Letter: Politics in the electronic age
Through petition and legal appeal, Aspen’s municipal government has become a dysfunctional hybrid of the City Council, city manager and town-meeting forms of government. The council makes a decision that is unpopular, and the townsfolk make the exceptional effort to petition against it. The dysfunction comes from the amount of time, money and work that are consumed by both the city and the people to settle the vexing issue.
The municipalities of the original New England colonies subscribed to the town-meeting form of governance, and many still do. This is considered to be the epitome of democracy, as everyone with a stake in an issue gets to vote. The council/manager form has evolved over the past 100-plus years as a way to expedite the decision-making process — a trusted few make the decisions for everyone, saving everyone from having to attend many, sometimes lengthy, meetings. We pick the candidates who are most likely to represent our values and entrust them with our future.
Fortunately, we are now living in an age of information and electronic wizardry. We are able to share ideas from wherever we may be with others wherever they may be. Internet access is virtually universal. It is now possible to legally vote on even the most obscure and inconsequential issue with the ease of making a PayPal payment. I believe that the time has come to take advantage of technology in this way. We deserve better representation — who better to provide it than ourselves? We can dismantle our current council/manager system and replace it with an electronic/cyber town-meeting system.