When elected officials no longer advocate for those who elected them, it is time for people to demand a voice in their government.
In Wisconsin, we have seen a Legislature that for more than a year has refused to act to safeguard Wisconsinites from COVID-19. Gov. Tony Evers declared a health emergency that could run for just 60 days if the Legislature did not vote to continue it. In spite of the pandemic extending into its second year, the Legislature never allowed the emergency declaration to continue nor did it offer its own plan for implementing protective measures.
We have a representative democracy in which citizens elect representatives to vote on laws on their behalf. We are increasingly seeing our elected representatives divide themselves into opposing camps based on their party affiliation. When people no longer matter, the opportunity for people to directly involve themselves in their government becomes paramount. This power exists already in the form of recall elections and referendums. However, Wisconsin lacks the “initiative process” that allows residents to offer proposals to be voted upon directly by the people.
When those we elect refuse or no longer give voice to the people and when political parties are so polarized that gridlock ensues, the people must have the option to directly make government work for them. Nonpartisan organizations such as the League of Women Voters or Democracy Found could promote this direct democracy reform statewide.