In the light of recent events, it would seem as though the people have finally began reaching their long sought objective of deciding nearly everything. But is this really convenient? Surely not for due legislative process. My question wonders more about the practical convenience of yielding to overwhelming popular sentiment at every turn, instead of relying in the theory of congressional representation.
What I refer to as recent events can be summarized in the following: The Arab Spring, the Occupy Nigeria protests of last week, the Occupy Wall Street movement and, most recently, the withdrawing from discussion of the SOPA project. All of these happenings have found fueling and spreading mainly through social networks, operated independently and uncontrollably by people around the globe who are merely expressing their opinions, And by so doing, making traditional political process and structure aside. The way that laws are getting passed and rejected by people is both a revolutionary´s dream and a traditional politician´s nightmare.
Politics was initially designed to be representative. In a way, it slowly became exclusive by centering decisive power on those elected who did not always represent popular will. The advent of social networks has not only granted people greater power to share their content and make themselves visible on the web; it has also given those on the sidelines a voice. The problem is, and I can only imagine how many haters I am about to harvest due to this comment, that those on the sidelines do not always understand the big picture.
Take Occupy Wall Street. The self proclaimed 99% decided to abandon their jobs, or the quest for them, to take to the streets and protest against the very policies that shape the countries and economies that sustain us. Sure, there are many immoral things going on. But then again, it is what we have and it is what we have worked with. Dismounting it would mean blood on the streets, which these so-called peaceful protesters will not have, because partly it would be their own. And God forbid they will actuallyfight. Most of them protested during their off time from work, where they had to rush immediately after so they can carry on with their lives.
Now take the SOPA project. A project seeking to prosecute those who steal (in every possible sense) from a large portion of the world population by pirating their work, finds itself stopped before it is even debated in congress, and all because those used to pirating and benefitting from it refuse to understand they live in a society where we all must pay our dues and earn our place by adjusting to the rules. Such rules normally include equality of opportunity for all, as well as the right to work and be paid for it. But according to those who oppose SOPA, they should not have to recognize others´ work, but cry treason and discrimination should they not be paid.
This twisted idea of injustice has its origin on the also twisted idea of liberty some hold to be sacred. Humanity is free as long as it respects others, and stealing is disrespectful. In that sense, I believe that opinion must be respected and honored, but not necessarily followed. What has happened with the SOPA project, as well as the OWS movement is proof that the government, as guardian and keeper of citizens and their rights, needs to develop structures and mechanisms to effectively control what happens on the web, for the sake of political process and society itself.
To conclude, and as a conservative that I am, may I restate here that the State holds the legitimate right to use force to defend and protect its citizens and their interests.