US Constitution revolution for real democracy
US Constitution revolution for real democracy
By Tom Crumpacker Noted by Thomasgguo
Pending a radical change to the US Constitution progressives can forget genuine democracy, says Tom Crumpacker. Meanwhile commercial oligarchy（government by a small group of people, often for their own interests ） will continue to promote raw power rather than rule of law in a parliamentary system outwith the control of ordinary people
Too many US progressives seem to accept the myth of United States democracy. We hear and read of all kinds of change strategies and tactics, which have one thing in common: a belief that winning elections by progressive candidates will solve our problems. But until we have a real democracy this won't happen, and we should have learned this sometime in the last 50 years. Without real democracy, we cannot peacefully or successfully address the calamitous(a sudden terrible event causing great loss and suffering ) problems which face us, such as economic crisis, war, unilateralism, authoritarianism, corporatism, environmental destruction, loss of privacy and liberty, discrimination, poverty, wage, health care, education, etc. In society these crucial issues are addressed by laws, which derive from political power. With no real democracy, electoral strategies and complaints about issues are just so much hot air. What US progressives have in common, whatever their specific issue or interest, is a desperate（ready for any wild act and not caring about danger because of loss of hope :suffering extreme need, anxiety or loss of hope; full of risk or danger; done as a last attempt and with little hope of success; extremely difficult and dangerous grave） need for democracy.
Thomas Jefferson [1743-1826] once predicted(to see or describe a future happening in advance as a result of knowledge.) that every generation would need its revolution. Politically speaking, we seem to be on the verge of entering a new dark age, where relations between people, classes, groups, governments and nations depend on raw power rather than the rule of law. Our national political system was structured 217 years ago by white, male property owners in what was then thought to become an essentially agricultural and mercantile society based in small communities and states. Limited powers were granted to a federal government of three separate branches.
Since then, enormous technological, economic, scientific, geographic, demographic (statistical study of human population) and other factors have completely altered the power relationships then contemplated. Nevertheless, we are still attempting to operate with what is essentially the original structure. The only basic changes we've made have been extending the vote to the propertyless, racial minorities and women, and centralizing the public funding and decision-making power at the federal level.
Although our rulers frequently say that we have a democracy and seek to impose our institutions on others, the only accurate words to describe our system as it now functions are commercial oligarchy(government by a small group of people for their own interests ) or plutocracy(a ruling class of wealthy people). The core of the historic idea of democracy is the possibility of collective decision-making about collective action for a common good. The reason humans have been trying to achieve this vision at least since the days of ancient Athens has to do with freedom. To the extent people can participate in the important decisions which affect their lives, personally or by true representation, the decisions become theirs, they implement them, and society's need for coercion diminishes.
The United States was not originally intended to be a democracy (except for one branch of the legislature). Populism(a person who claims to believe in the wisdom and judgment of ordinary people) was feared by those who set up our government. It was first called a republic, and, like Rome and all the rest, has now morphed into empire. Our important decision-making is done by a power elite(a group that is of higher level or rank) consisting of big business-corporate, military and political, as described by C. Wright Mills in his 1960 essay "The Power Élite." By funding the politicians and mass media, our élites acquire the power to use them to obtain public acquiescence in the societal decisions they make privately.
The problem is that most of our national politicians are not representing the public interest (common good); rather they are representing the powerful private interests which fund them, on the theory that some of the benefits will “trickle down” to the people. They are pursuing self-interest, seeking to retain their offices which bring them wealth and power – as encouraged by our dominant “laissez faire” ideology. In a democracy people can protect themselves by forcing the politicians to set the societal rules which govern their relations.
Our rulers seek to justify our “interest based” system by calling it pluralist. In this type of system, where advertising in the media is crucial, economic power produces political power, political power produces economic power, and the role of the people disappears. The purpose of a political system is to allow for an appropriate degree of social change within an appropriate degree of stability. Today, progressive change in and within our system has become impossible. Our mass consumer society, which binds us together not by our values but by enmeshing(to catch in a net) us in a net of commercial relations, has become an overwhelming(very large; too great to oppose) depoliticizing force.
The seats in our House of Representatives (our “people's house”) have become virtual lifetime appointments, encouraging allegiance(loyalty, faith , and dutiful support to a leader, county, idea) to private rather than public interests. David Brower has called it the House of Lords. Our Congress has delegated its legislative authority to an imperial presidency. About half of eligible Americans no longer participate in national elections. Bush, who was elected by 27% of the eligibles, says he represents those who agree with him. With a winner-take-all electoral system, only two parties are possible at the national and state levels. They have morphed into one two-pronged party purporting to help special interests and status groups. The growth of alternative, people based parties founded on values has been made impossible by entrenched laws, impossibility of funding and exclusion from the mass media and public debate.
There are plenty(a large quantity or number) of good ideas out there which need to be explored publicly and considered in a revision of our Constitution. Such as (1) a parliamentary system with proportional representation, where people could find participation and representation by voting their values; (2) public control of, or at least significant input in, the broadcast media (the airwaves are public); (3) selective decentralization of political and economic units so that real democracy could function, such as return to the original federation idea and further; (4) elimination of campaign expenditures, replacement with public funding or at least anonymous(done or made by someone whose name is not know or stated), limited contributions; (4) limitation of size, function and activities of corporations, return to public control (originally they were public institutions); (5) elimination of our Senate; (6) elimination of gerrymandering, re-draw House districts based on population and geographical affinity only; (7) term limits; (8) elimination of Electoral College; (9) elimination of lobbying - where expertise is necessary, replace with public commissions; (10) provision for accountability and recall of representatives; (11) articulation of implied right of privacy in Bill of Rights; (12) clarification of Congress's responsibility to declare war, military for national defense only.
Many more political reforms are needed and they all have their benefits and drawbacks(difficulty or disadvantage). The point I am trying to make is not which are appropriate; rather, I think it is now too late to work through the system. The system cannot be fixed by working through it because it is not functioning. It is no longer in the people's control. If we keep trying, we are wasting our precious time, and the other problems like war, ecological(the scientific study of the pattern of relations of plants, animals, and people to each other and to their surroundings) disaster, economic crisis, might do us in first.