Why Democracy?

Why are we really in Iraq? Why are we losing almost 1,000 of our service members every year, wounding and psychologically damaging thousands more, and killing hundreds of thousands of Iraqis every year while displacing and wounding millions?

There are many answers, but most of them boil down to corporate influence in our political system.

Why are we the only industrialized nation without universal health care ranking 37th in health care outcomes while spending more per capita than any other nation?

Many have written very long and detailed analyses about this, but the short answer is corporate influence in our political system.

Why are our public schools failing to achieve the educational outcomes most of us believe they should? Why is the cost of college rising faster than inflation? Why is it that thirty years ago a family could be supported by one income and now it is a struggle for most even with two? Why do we have ever increasing problems with homelessness and illegal immigration? Why is Congress unwilling to impeach the most blatantly criminal administration in our nation’s history?

There are long answers to each of these questions, but the short answer to each of them is corporate influence in our political system. And there are many more questions that could be asked about the degeneration of our society, to all of which the short answer is the same.

So how do we exorcise this demon? The way we will get corporate influence out of politics is through increasing democracy.

To be part of the solution

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In our current system, elected officials are a small fraction of a percent of our population. It is a small enough number that it is financially feasible to purchase influence. It is a far more subtle system than the simple quid pro quo corruption of a dictatorship or oligarchy, but it is nevertheless based on the influence of money and its ability to keep people in power.

However, if we were all involved in the decision-making process…even if only 10% of us were involved, and our democracy were so rudimentary as to require only a simple majority for everything, it would mean 15 million palms to grease. That’s at least 30 times the number of elected decision-makers in our current system at all levels of government. Furthermore, with the doors open to all to participate, it would be far too difficult to select the right number to lobby on any issue.

Well, that’s a very nice idea, but our constitution defines our system as a representative republic. Transitioning to democracy would require constitutional amendments, wouldn’t it?

Certainly, that would be one avenue, and enshrining the principles of participatory democracy in our constitution would create a permanence to provide assurances to our progeny that democracy would continue. We should hope that we can eventually reach a point where we can codify democracy into our constitution. However, my idea for the short-term solution to the problems inherent in our current system is a de facto democracy that we the people put in place piece by piece.

Here’s the basic plan.

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