Ominous headline, but what is the best way to get a point across in our society?
Voting doesn't count for anything - we don't have referendums for pretty much anything, plus we only vote for a person, not an individual action. One may "represent" the other, but this representation only extends to the view of the person voted in, not the views of those who voted him in. The two are different, very different. Furthermore, thanks to our FPTP system, it's possible for the elected to be voted in by a minority of people.
In spite of that though, the established "guidelines of contact" go through our elected representative. But e-mailing/faxing them seems to go ignored (fair enough if standard form letters are used, but, thinks I, not if they all just get sent through the same website, wherein each will may have its own view). Writing a letter is apparently the best thing to do, as it gets their attention the most (time and effort, you see) - although bizarrely there's no reason why it doesn't suffer from the same "grouping" effect that the government attribute to faxes/e-mails.
(This "grouping" also ignores the fact that many of the people who are most interested in an issue will have gone to the site, and so are likely to submit an entry through it. Hell, the politicians rely heavily on the same kind of "central dissemination and propagation of ideologies" that they decided against listening to - gah.)
Also, in my experience, it takes a couple of weeks to get a (usually standard form - how ironic) reply to my letter, saying they'll keep me updated. While the stiff, creamy paper is lovely to hold, it can feel like I've just been entered as a reference number in a spreadsheet, rather than actually having my point of view/reasoning taken into account. Perhaps if I put in some drawings, or write it in blood next time...
Going up the ladder, and getting into the realms of the "professional democratic partner", the next effective way is by using face-to-face techniques. At the bottom of this, there are a few people who willingly get in touch with their politician, and organise a meeting. OK, so I only met one - John Gilmore, who set up much of Usenet, the Well and EFF. There are at least 2 problems with doing this though:
- I'm too busy doing other things to even organise the meeting, let alone go to it.
- My politician is probably equally busy.
Thus, he's probably not going to be too bothered about seeing me, unless I'm the King, or someone equally important.
Which leaves the problem - how do ordinary people get their point across?
Note that this may also highlight the gap between politics and employment - the more people work, the less time they have to actually do something politically.
Which is why the next step in the ladder is professional critique - the summoning of people in an industry/institute/organisation to present evidence to a council, who may (or may not) use this to influence their decision when making a decision. This assumes that a) there aren't pressures on the process elsewhere, and b) people are actually summoned in the first place.
Ater that you get the MPs, the ministers and the Cabinet members themselves, which is "ultimate political profession".
And all this is why protestors would probably be better off putting their placards away, signing up for political studies, and trying to become PM. If enough of them give it a go, then one of them is bound to make it in the end. They just need to think long term about the situation, rather than react a day too late.
(Of course, then they'll get sucked into the system, and just become one of them...)