We must challenge faulty assumptions about democracy as if our life depended on it—because it does.
Democracy, as it should be practiced (Direct Democracy, unfettered by people in power) is not the primary issue. The issue is Capitalism, which has failed spectacularly to be serve all but the obscenely rich. There has not been ‘real’ democracy in this country, ever.
Even in the deep red state of Idaho, I have never heard anyone talk about a preference for military rule. The authors should be addressing the real evil of unfettered capitalism and it’s destruction of lives and environment.
The 5 republican appointed Justices gave us Citizen’s United and its step-up of big money control over democracy. Trump and republicans are on a record pace to appoint more corporate judges for lifetime appointments. Between these judges and a huge number of brain dead Americans, progressives have their work cut out for them.
I would love to participate in our “democracy,” but I don’t have the money to buy a representative.
" There has not been real democracy in this country, ever."
Yes, by my definition, that real democracy is participation in political power by all Americans; especially, participation in military power… you are absolutely correct! The average American has no political power when it comes to thwarting the political power of the “obscenely rich” and the world wide terrorism of our military.
1.7 million voters left the top of the ballot blank in 2016.
In Nevada, where voters can choose “None of the Above,” 29,000 did.
Seems to me, democracy would work better if voters had better choices.
Democracy in the USA is controlled by limiting the choices of candidates of the two major parties, although we Americans could decide to vote for minor party candidates and change the game.
I think the democracy that Ms. Moore Lappe is talking about involves citizens doing much, much more than just voting and complaining about the choices. Participatory democracy involves the citizens themselves becoming the policy and program choices, not sitting on their ass and expecting to be spoon-fed individuals to make those choices for you.
Voting in elections is only a miniscule part of what participation in democracy is about, but if you are preoccupied about candidates and elections, you can at least start your democratic participation by joining the local committee of the party of your choice and having a part in selecting those candidates.
Much easier to do so, if we use electoral systems that invite multiple candidates and parties.
The present system that predominates in the US - where voters have one single vote that must go to one single candidate, and the candidate who is “first past the post” with a plurality of those votes wins the seat - very strongly tends to generate duopolies.
Better systems - like Rank Choice Voting, or Score Voting, or Approval Voting - allow voters to weigh in on every candidate on the ballot, do not promote “lesser evil voting,” do not generate “wasted votes,” and do not “naturally” generate duopolies.
i’ve contacted the Center for Election Science, which works to promote adoption of such voting systems, to see about getting them included on the Movement Organizations page of the new Field Guide to the Democracy Movement that Moore-Lappé and Eichen are promoting.
I’ll put my long record of participation against yours any day, Yunzer, but thanks for the lecture.
Using the common view of democracy the US certainly is a democracy. Citizens vote for people to represent them in government, there is an independent judicial system, and there is a free press. Countries can certainly function without being democracies. Russia and China are good examples. Russia sort of pretends to be a democracy and China makes no pretenses that isn’t a democracy. One of the problems with democracy is that it requires citizens to be knowledgeable about current events and the working of government to function at its best. In the US millions of people fail to live up to these basic responsibilities of a citizen in a democracy. To some extent it requires work and many either don’t want to put in the effort or simply don’t care. Our democracy is clearly in danger because in the last election a fascist was elected. This can happen in a democracy and for the first time it happened here. So what we are seeing is all the central elements of democracy being attacked. Democracy requires debates using true facts and so we are seeing the free press attacked and higher education attacked. Democracy requires an independent judiciary and we are seeing attacks on certain judges. The electoral system itself is under attack. Laws are being passed ot suppress the votes of certain groups and a commission to investigate voter fraud was established even though voter fraud hardly exists. The 5 out 6 Americans who do not support military rule (it should be 100% of Americans) need to get more active in democracy or they could wind up living in a dictatorship in the not too distant future.
At what point does a democracy become so dysfunctional and contaminated by big money that you would be willing to call it a plutocracy? Just wondering, because it’s a paradigm shift many of us have already made.
There definitely is a problem. I think that I will leave it up to the political scientists to make the call. One thing is clear that the person who spends the most money on a campaign doesn’t always win. And I believe many politicians often vote based on what they believe or what their constituents are saying rather than on large campaign contributions that they have received.
Democracy, as such, is itself not “failing” — in fact it is rarely being given a chance to be practiced. It is not in fact being promoted in the sense of carefully being in place during our most common transaction … as it ought to be. The largest factor in its weakness is being constatnly under attack by well-heeled forces who have both the will and means to attack every time they see a success in practice.
THAT is hard to combat. Every success of democratic process, however, has the ability to stimulate more supporters. This inertia must be celebrated and increased to achieve a definitive win over the greed-driven forces that leverage our demise as a people and planet.
The only chance to practice democracy in any appreciable sense of the term in this country is at the local level and that’s possible in certain locations and on some issues and only for select segments of the population. Once a contest between candidates or issues attracts enough dollars, even that disappears. This is what happens when you infect democracy with capitalism. Yes, it is important to nurture any embers of a democratic movement, but as long as those embers can be legally smothered with money, they will never burst into flames. Public financing of elections and the political process is an absolutely necessary first step. We’ve used the same principle, effectively, in this country for public education. You as an individual or corporation can’t pay to get the curriculum and public school personnel you personally want, you and corporations shouldn’t be able to pay to get elected officials and policy you personally want.
That is truly disturbing!
True, the person who spends the most money doesn’t ALWAYS win, but statistics show a very strong correlation between money spent and those who do win. It’s not that politicians don’t pay attention to what their constituents are saying, its that they give more attention and sometimes, much more, to certain select segments of what that constituency is saying and that’s invariably the segment that can foot the bill to run a campaign. Study after study shows that what the actual majority of those constituents want has little effect on public policy. If we pin our hopes on the the few instances where politicians do put the majority of what their consistency want, first, it’s game over. That strategy has been a long running failure. It’s given us the dysfunctional system we have now. If we keep doing things the same way, we get the same results. Waiting for candidates to all get religion isn’t much of a strategy. The hell with the pundits. They feed out of the same trough. Come on, LRX, you can do better than this.
The is no question we need campaign finance reform. However, I think some people exaggerate how bad the current system is. The average person sitting at home can’t possibly understand much of the legislation that is voted on which can be hundreds of pages in length In fact, the members of Congress often have little idea what they are voting on. Often they are surprised they voted for something that was hidden in a bill. However, the average person can certainly support organizations that reflect their views. These organizations, while certainly not as well funded as the big corporations, often do have experts who can review legislation and they can have lobbyists. By being organized in this way the individual can have much more power in Washington than by acting alone. It is really often corporations versus organizations, both top down and grassroots, that battle over legislation.
We’ll know that democracy in the US is dead when only 1% of the population actually bothers to vote.
Try guessing who that 1% will be…
The only way to save democracy is to use democracy. When citizens vote for Big Money candidates they are telling those candidates it’s okay to take Big Money.
The only way to make then stop taking Big Money is to not only not vote for them but cast a vote against them.
All citizens that want small contribution candidates can work together to demonstrate and create demand for small contribution candidates by participating in the One Demand campaign financing approach (www.onedemand.org).
Citizens can commit to only vote for small contribution candidates for Congress (includes the Senate) in 2018 in both the primaries and general elections. If there are no small contribution candidates on the ballot citizens commit to casting a write in vote to register a vote against the Big Money candidates and demonstrate and create demand for small contribution candidates in future elections.