From the Prop Zero Department of Modest Proposals and Crazy Ideas: the Libyan strongman Muammar Qaddafi should be exiled to California.
There’s a weird kind of cultural affinity there, particularly given the strong resemblances between his utterances and the state’s leading cultural figure of the moment, Charlie Sheen. Both say strange things, both attribute superhuman powers to themselves, both are getting poor reviews in the newspapers, and both are surrounded by women – Sheen’s “goddesses” and Qaddafi’s all-female posse of bodyguards.
But there’s a more profound reason why California and Qaddafi are a good fit: his views on democratic governance match up nicely with how California is organized.
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Consider this passage on direct democracy from the dictator’s infamous Green Book, as quoted in this smart piece from Foreign Policy magazine:
"The mere existence of a parliament means the absence of the people, but true democracy exists only through the participation of the people, not through the activity of their representatives. Parliaments have been a legal barrier between the peoples and the exercise of authority, excluding masses from power while usurping sovereignty in their place...
"The Green Book presents the solution to the problem of the instrument of governing. It indicates for the people the way to pass from the eras of dictatorship to the eras of genuine democracy. This new theory is based on the authority of the people, without representation or deputation. It realizes direct democracy in an orderly and effective form."
In case you didn’t catch all of that, Qaddafi is arguing that representative government is a farce – and that it should be replaced with a direct democracy, where the people can govern themselves directly “without representation or deputation.”
That almost perfectly captures the direction in which California has been moving. Because our system of direct democracy is so inflexible – and allows the people to impose their own judgments (however incoherent) – our representatives -- those darn middlemen -- have little power to govern us. Unlike other countries and states that use direct democracy as a supplement to representative democracy, California has been steadily replacing representative democracy with direct democracy.
Mr. Qaddafi, if you feel like liberating your people and leaving, consider California. Politically, you’re a Californian at heart.