Guest Blog: One Man's Mission (Part I) by Don Seibold
I am just an under-educated person who has a website on which I call myself Dr. I.Q. for two reasons: (1) it is where I examine what could be done to cure a sick state government, and (2)”Doctor I.Q.” was a popular radio quiz program in the 1940s on which contestants had to think at least a bit in order to win a small prize, and I want to make people think about what they might do to improve our legislature.
After an Air Force career I chose to adopt Alabama as the place to hang my shingle about 35 years ago. That military service enhanced the feeling of civic duty that had been fostered by taking a high school course called "Civics". One must wonder if such a course has been taught lately.
In about October of 2003, having always maintained an interest in government, I came to the realization that our state government was a real "basket case” and began to wonder what, if anything, could be done about it, and then began to search for a possible remedy.
Not having a computer, I asked a friend to do some research for me and he found what I was looking for, convinced me that I could and should, learn how to use a computer even at my age, and helped me get started with my website as a way of letting others know about the remedy I would suggest for changing our government structure and making it - at long last - a government of, by, and for the people of Alabama.
I learned that in the 1930s the people of another state united and decided to try to reduce the cost of their government by re-structuring their state legislature. What they have discovered in the years since is that their new form of legislature, besides being less costly, is also more efficient, more productive, more open to public scrutiny - and thus less corrupt, non-partisan and less influenced by special interest groups. What the people of Nebraska did back then, Alabamians could do today, but only if our citizens first obtain the constitutional right to an Initiative, or Petition, as some call it, and Referendum (I&R) process such as allowed Nebraska's citizens to put their re-structuring referendum up for a vote.
Therefore, the purpose of my website is to use it to in some way to help Alabama become the 25th state with I&R.
Both I&R and a restructured legislature will be difficult to obtain but it is possible with the help of voters, if they apply sufficient pressure on their elected representatives in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. Being over 72 years of age I don’t expect to see a restructured legislature, but our children and grandchildren can. Both issues will be strongly opposed by those who now hold the power – lawmakers, union leaders who control many of them, lobbyists, political parties, and other “Big Mules” who would lose a small part of their power if they have to give it to the voters who, after all, are supposed to own government, and certainly pay for it.
That said, obtaining only I&R will lead to better government for us, because it will give voters a “big stick” to hold over the collective head of the legislature that could be used to bring about real reform and accountability measures if the legislature continues to refuse to.
The words “big stick” are not used randomly. Teddy Roosevelt, whose foreign policy was referred to as “Walk softly, but carry a big stick”, was a proponent of I&R, and had this to say about it:
“the initiative and referendum should be used, not as substitutes for representative government, but as methods of making such government really representative. Action by the initiative or referendum ought not to be the normal way of legislation; but the power to take it should be provided in the constitution, so that if the representatives fail truly to represent the people on some matter of sufficient importance to rouse popular interest, then the people shall have in their hands the facilities to make good the failure.”
Tomorrow, in the 2nd and final part of my civic journey, I'll discuss my activies regarding I&R over the past two years, what obstacles I have learned about, what contacts I have had with people with some name recognition and the results of those contacts, and what progress has been made.
In the meantime, I invite everyone to visit my website, Dr IQ Examines Alabama Government, at http://www.doctoriq.com/index.html, study what is there, submit ideas, suggestions, comments and/or criticisms on the Contact Dr. I.Q. page, and to get involved and join me in this venture.