Democracy is, apparently, on its last legs in the United States.
I like to try to reduce politics to playground activity because it makes more sense than any other approach I’ve yet seen.
So, recognizing there will be blurring of issues, I will make gross generalizations that try to summarize the current situation in ways that the average grade school student would readily recognize.
In particular, Democrats have to take the ball and bat back from the Republicans.
Polls show support for issues time and again amongst the public that get little or no traction in government. That’s standard fare. Examples include gay marriage, legalization of marijuana, gun control, abortion rights, equal protection for minorities under the law, and, perhaps most of all, a government that does something-anything. In all these arenas having a majority of support–or even a significant level of support combined with a strong moral or economic basis–amongst the public reflects not at all on the reality of our government.
So maybe an even better statement: the people need to take the ball and bat away from the politicians.
But today’s crisis is more specific than most. Plus, it is rather ironic, if you recall des Toqueville’s ernest warning. He was one of America’s earliest and most influential critics. His famous warning remains popular today: “American government is in danger of a tyranny of the majority.” But des Toqueville hadn’t imagined a minority so willing to see the country itself fail.
It is the minority that threatens democracy today.
What has driven this disgruntled minority is, at its heart, the facts that:
They (i.e., their financiers) don’t need most, if any, of the services provided by the government.
They don’t like the party that has been in nominal control since 2008.
They don’t like the President at all, and are dedicated to seeing him fail.
They don’t like the direction the demographics are taking.
They have realized the power they can wield by saying “no” to everything is far greater than they would hold if the vote of the people counted.
And they have, with the way things work today, the power to say “no” to everything.
They have taken the ball and won’t play any more. The only course left us, the people, is to take full control via voting the naysayers out entirely. It’s time to hit them over the head-the only real defense against psychotic bullies on the playground.
To be fair, though, a lot of the fault in government today lies with the party supposedly currently in power and, specifically, the president. They have done very little to take advantage of the majority of voters they’ve managed to garner at the last two presidential elections. (I’m convinced the reason they lost the House in 2010 was that they did nothing with the tremendous mandate they came away with in 2008.)
But helping the tyrannical minority by throwing out members of the majority who haven’t been strong enough only makes it easier for the minority to keep a hold on the ball. A good example is how giving the naysayers the House in 2010 because the wishes of the people in 2008 hadn’t “seen light,” wound up with a more moribund congress, not a more active one.
So we have to also understand who is trying to stop playing and, at least for the moment, direct our wrath only at them.
As Ben Franklin warned, we are on the verge of “not keeping” the republic the founders had so carefully crafted.
This conflict is strongly rooted in the financial system we’ve grown very fond of, capitalism. The problem, as well as the strength, of capitalism is the fact that some people can get filthy rich under it.
In a democracy, a richer class is always going to be disproportionately more powerful than a poorer class. That may seem counterintuitive, but the fact is that money buys votes, and does so in a myriad of ways. That’s just how it works.
With time, this imbalance of power is only going to increase. The supreme court’s decision in Citizen’s United made it worse, but that was, itself, only a symptom of the basic problem. Money selects for its own benefit, and time only increases the effect. At least as significant in the acceleration in the power of the rich has been the increasing gap between the incomes of the two classes.
That the monied class has decided to take its ball and go home is really not so surprising.
But if the people are going to continue to play anyway, they’re just going to have to take it back.
I’d suggest a little carpetbagging is in order. Let’s start urging strong Democratic populations to migrate to Republican held districts in which the balance of power is marginal. Several recent polls have indicated that such a move is, by itself, a strong predictor of significant improvement in the lives of poor people, anyway.
Why not even give financial aid based on making such a move and registering to vote? The best way to use your majority in a republic is to spread it around.
We could even be more crass by using the Citizens United case as a rationalization for financing such a tactic a few months before the 2014 election. Have no doubt that the other side won’t be hedging any of its bets in finding ways to use their deep pockets to disenfranchise the force of numbers that is our strength.
For sure, one thing is clear to me. All is fair in “whatever it is that the naysayers have decided to play” instead of “playing ball.” All they care about is “keeping the nigras down.” And if we don’t recognize that, maybe we deserve the disapprobation.
It’s proven totally fruitless to try to negotiate with them. So, like has been done in California, we just have to start playing hardball, just as the naysayers have been doing ever since Obama was elected the first time. We have to elect majorities large enough to do something, including changing the rules (especially in the Senate) to exclude the tyranny of an irresponsible minority.