I am disturbed by a trend in our current political climate: Elected officials repeatedly disregarding the expressed will of the people.
We live in a community that is enclosed in layers of governments, one encasing another, like Russian dolls. On the local level, we have a city government that is a mix of a representative democracy and a direct democracy. That is, we elect fellow citizens to represent our will, but we also have to power to express our will directly through referenda.
This is also true on the regional level, i.e., the Kenai Peninsula Borough. Again, on the state level, we have a mixed democracy, with elected representatives and direct referenda. On the federal level, of course, we must trust that our elected representatives will respect our will, as we have no constitutional power of direct democracy.
In recent years I have watched with growing concern as our city, borough, and state elected representatives have repeatedly acted to thwart the will of the people. Again and again the people have gone through the arduous process of petition and election to establish referenda only to have the very citizens we elected to office overturn our will with their own highly crafted legislation. It makes my head spin!
Do our representatives really believe that they better know what is good for us than we do? Or are they just crass cynics who use the power of a representative democracy to pursue their own personal interests, be they monetary or ideological? If the latter, we should, by all means vote them out of office. If the former, they should resign from office, since the people who put them there didn’t understand what they were doing.
To those of you who hold office on the city, borough, and state level I say, represent the will of those who put you in office or step down.
If you are unaware of this ongoing conflict between the voters and our elected governments today, investigate and reflect upon the history of the following items:
• City of Homer: retail sale of cannabis;
• Kenai Peninsula Borough and City of Homer: repeal of grocery sales tax; amd
• State of Alaska: repeal of daylight saving time.