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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A few upcoming events

This Tuesday, March 11th is the date the Green Party is required by state election law to hold our precinct conventions.  Here in Travis County, rather than attempting to organize 218 individual precinct conventions, we will be holding a Consolidated Precinct Convention at the Brick Oven Restaurant at 1209 Red River at 7 pm.  Any resident of Travis County who:

1) is registered to vote (in Texas, there is a 30-day period from the date of submission of the voter registration form until you are actually registered, so you would need to have registered by February 8th — the 10th was a Sunday — to be eligible); and

2) did not vote in the March 4th primaries

can attend as a voting delegate (you will be required to affirm that you are willfully affiliating yourself with the Green Party of Texas for the remainder of the year and did not vote in the primaries) .

The next day, March 12th, we can begin collecting signatures for our ballot access petition.  Statewide, we have 75 days to collect around 44,000 valid signatures.  Signatures will be added to the count of delegates at Precinct Conventions.  If you come to your local precinct convention and sign a petition, you effectively count twice, so of course, I urge you all to do that, if you can.

Then, Saturday, March 15th we will hold our County Conventions.  For Travis County, it will be at 11 am, La Madeline Bakery and Cafe, 3418 North Lamar in
Austin.

The following Saturday, March 22nd will be the District Convention for Texas’ 25th Congressional District.  The specific time and location of this event is still TBA, but I will post it here very soon.