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Opinion | NationStates Has Marginalized the Masses For Too Long

Most everyone would agree that regions are run by a firmly established elite — an increasingly megalomaniac clique of leaders who are unwilling to relinquish their power. Though this trend doesn’t present itself in all our politicians, especially those who put their constituents before their politics (kudos to the Communist Bloc), this represents a growing reality where nations that opt not to join the WA Assembly, decide to stay off the big forums, or choose to hang low are disenfranchised simply because they aren’t willing to dedicate most of their personal lives to THEIR region. It’s not the bureaucrat’s region; it’s not the party’s region; it’s not the police-state gendarmes’ region. It is our region, and it is these nobodies, those who have faded away, which keep many principal regions in the spotlight, help attract new recruits, and contribute to the success of government.

When looking at the marginalized peoples, we must ask ourselves whether granting them equal suffrage, representation, and easy access to information (which is a key step on the road to equality) would change anything. After all, most everyone would agree that the assiduous pursuit of citizenship or World Assembly membership is usually a key marker of political ambition. So, why should we give people who fail to do this, who fail to show their determination to contribute, any power in government? Why should those who show only apathy in the face of their region be rewarded with the greatest privilege of a citizen. . . the power to vote and influence legislation? But to analyze that question, we must see the ‘inactivity’ of those regions not as a condition of their isolation, but as a condition of a political machine. They are, quite simply, the victims of an omnipresent political-machine, bred out of the very nature of politics, that takes many names but exists in all regions. These nobodies are outmaneuvered by fanatical regimes and cutthroat politicians, and forced to conform to the stereotype that they, simply and plainly, do not care. Just look at the fourth provision, under Article II, Definitions, in the 2016 Citizenship Act of the Communist Bloc:

(4) “Citizen” shall refer to individuals whom have a nation in The Communist Bloc and have been approved for forum citizenship.

Later on in this law, they give administrators the powers to deny citizenship to any applicants, on the basis of questionable loyalty, which I totally agree with. We should not do away with applications for verification and the vetting procedure that ensures that regions can not assert ghost influence on other regions. But why must these applications be confined to “forum applications” instead of an easily accessible, quick telegram that any new recruits can fill out and send to the government? After all, making application information and registration much simpler DOES NOT pose a security risk. Opponents will argue that doing so will undermine current systems. Enemies could use political operatives and puppets states in order to gain citizenship, citing the fallacy that the easy ability to apply for citizenship means the easy ability to invade a region and establish a foreign political machine. I am not saying that we should revamp measures aimed at establishing a secure process of vetting applicants. It is a necessity to ask them security questions, both on the behalf of the government, fellow citizens, and stability of region. But by posting these applications on NS, we cut down on the hassle to get to the first rung on the political ladder, the quest for citizenship (i.e. the painful process to even find the application), without cutting down on security precautions. And let’s not forget that foreign nations who are hell-bent and intent on taking down the system could still apply for citizenship, even with the application on the forum. There is no difference in who we let in, but there is a huge difference in the availability of the application to the public.

I am sure that we can all remember times when we became inactive, abruptly left the political scene, or just took a well-deserved hiatus. We were willing to chase after our political ambitions with unparalleled fervor, but found that our personal lives demanded more of us than our online roles as citizens. But just as we have all required some personal time, away from our regions, we must recognize that some member-states have less time to give to their region, choosing to use it to talk to friends, visit family, maintain schoolwork and a job, read, binge-watch Netflix, etc. So why should we discriminate against the masses who maintain a lower internet presence, yet compose the bulk of our populations on NS? We shouldn’t, tout court. That is no justification for the systematic exclusion of the masses and the bare recognition of this is a first step in the fight for freedom and equality.

But one of the many hurdles that manage to give even the most seasoned politicians vertigo, is the vast network of information, both regional and interregional, that eludes the common member-state. The news networks, the industry of culture which pervades in politics, roleplay, and regional relations, are a vital component in our ability to exercise our voting privilege. I can’t cast my vote if I don’t understand the argument; without that coveted info, we are blind. And political blindness is a dereliction of our duty to our region and a must-have when we choose “aye” or “nay”. But that vital part of exercising OUR right to suffrage is left encoded in dispatches, discord announcements, and forum posts and is often stretched to horrendous lengths with abstruse legalese, ephemeral esoterica, and blistering tirades. If you are looking for recreation in NationStates and you aren’t willing to dedicate over 30 minutes of your valuable time each day to politics, then you are now out of luck. Not only is that information out of reach, but it is also indecipherable without an encyclopedia full of context. That information, which acts as the medium between voter and representative, is restricted to the class that overwhelmingly assumes the helm of leadership and manipulates the malleable masses into ensuring a political oligarchy — them. Through sly intimidation, they keep the valuable and underrepresented base of nations in the political gutters in order to ensure they can ride out infinite terms to their political apotheosis. This is the time to decry that injustice and to say enough-is-enough.

We cannot coerce people to vote. Our privilege is a choice, and we must recognize that NationStates is home to a plethora of abandoned nations and inactive member-states who, regardless of electoral rights, will not exercise their duty to their region. But the people who don’t have access to vital information, the basic privileges of suffrage, or the ability to deal with the forums, servers, and social web that expands with every oligarch’s cyber click, are the ones who lose the most. These aforementioned things serve as the main buffer that separates the masses from their inalienable rights. We have a responsibility to ALL constituents. Whether they vote or not, that is their decision. But the illegal denial of their rights is just one of many obstacles in peace, prosperity, and fun. To address this, there is only one solution to this problem. Every member-state must be guaranteed EASY, QUICK access to daily or weekly information, either on a regional dispatch, through a regular telegram, or quick notification. Every member-state should be given voting rights, so long as they register with their region in a citizen application (which should contain all necessary precautions for regional stability), available to everyone and taking only minutes. We must establish a democratically-elected commission, a sort of liaison with member-states that primarily operate on NationStates and works to protect marginalized groups, helps introduce popular issues to the regional legislature, and works to turn public reform into law. This would act as the true voice of the people and would help forge a strong relationship with the long-ignored base that now yearns to be free. Finally, regions should cooperate to endow the citizenry with universal representation and should increase its efforts to limit the hitherto monopolized terms, increase access to civil services, reduce the hassle that inevitably comes with receiving regional news, and inform the masses in politics and power. We have the power to change activity, inclusion, voter-turnout, and democracy in NationStates, all for the people. This is not just a problem. This is a crisis that has existed since day one and has been forced into the forgotten trash bin of history. Yet, our strong, supportive base, which contributes to our cohesiveness as a state and makes many regions great, continues to languish away. This is the time for change and recognition, the time to remember that the political elite, which will immediately decry fascist atrocities, continuously fails to act when it comes to destroying the shackles that bind hundreds of member-states to their condition. We must change the political landscape on NS and only we, the dutiful citizens of NS and the unwilling participants of a political machine, can do that.

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