Marking also offers some views on energy independence (o.k.), a vague call for personal responsibility as the solution to health care costs (dodging the issue), and securing the borders (any daylight between him and pro-immigration Black Hills neighbor Thad Wasson?).
What really catches my attention, though, is Marking's call for electronic democracy. Far from the pointless Tea Party hyperventilations of "Republic not a Democracy!!!" Marking actually thinks we need more direct democracy. In an October 11 comment in the Custer County Chronicle, Marking calls to task editor Norma Najacht for a little "RNAD" ramble:
Walt Whitman, in about 1860, noted that democracy \"is a word the real gist of which still sleeps, quite unawakened . . . It is a great word, whose history, I suppose, remains unwritten, because that history has yet to be enacted.\" Whitman\'s words are as true today as then. The ideal of democracy has never been achieved, not in ancient Athens, not even in modern Switzerland. And pure democracy may never be achieved on the level of the nation-state. That said, this beautiful concept must be kept alive and vigorously defended. It will always be the standard by which we gauge the shortcomings of all other forms of government, most especially our own.
...A constitutional republic was the best we could do in colonial times. It was a revolutionary departure from oppressive monarchy -- the system the founding fathers really feared. In the past 233 years, however, our world has changed a bit. At least one founding father, Thomas Jefferson, knew that \"laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind.\" Alas, our institutions of government have not kept pace. Furthermore, if modern technologies can take us closer to democratic governance, why settle for something less? [B. Thomas Marking, comment, Custer County Chronicle, 2009.10.11]
Marking's #1 goal is to use modern technology to allow us, the voters of South Dakota, to directly control his work in Congress:
Within 90 days of being sworn in, my staff will set up a secure computer system and register all interested South Dakota voters, so they can begin voting on national policy issues (domestic and foreign). The majority decisions of these referenda will dictate my voting on bills brought to the floor of the House. (Relax. If the internet isn't your thing, we'll accept paper ballots.) [B. Thomas Marking, "Goal 1," campaign website, retrieved 2009.11.06]
Wowza! That's actually a cool idea, a step more radical than the relatively simple participatory but non-binding information system I've conceived of for the South Dakota Legislature (shades of OpenCongress.org). Mr. Marking has even written a novel, Amendment XXIX, on the issue.
I suspect even amidst Tea Party fervor, South Dakota's voters (and the mainstream media, which needs a much simpler two-party battle narrative) probably won't give half a hoot about independent candidates. But I hope Mr. Marking can get his foot in the door and start a conversation about electronic democracy.
What would Jefferson do? Given the Internet, he might side with Marking and recognize that today's tech tools make possible a direct, lively democracy that the Founding Fathers couldn't make work in horse-and-buggy days.