Third Party & Independents Archives

Delusion Destroys Democracy

Will Americans learn to trust their fellow citizens or stay stuck on stupidly backing serial political betrayers?

I have been watching films from the 1940s and 1950s about World War II. It was well known that Adolph Hitler was truly delusional. His delusions prevented him from accepting wisdom and facts from experienced military officers and others, and caused millions to suffer and die. Surely George W. Bush resembles Hitler psychologically. His obsessive delusions about his Iraq war are also causing incredible suffering and death, as well as squandering our nation’s wealth.

Our constitutional democracy makes it nearly impossible to free the nation from the grip of a seemingly sane but deeply delusional president. The present constitutional provision for impeachment is clearly inadequate. As with Hitler and other delusional tyrants, Bush has surrounded himself with sycophants that share his delusions, and perhaps nurtured them, and refuse to tell the emperor that he has no clothes. Congress, even under Democratic control, commits negligent cowardice. And our mainstream press has not rallied the nation to free itself from misused presidential power.

Also clear to some of us is that the delusional Bush has survived because delusion runs rampant across the nation, blocking populist actions in the national interest. Here are the main states of American delusion:

Millions of Americans persist in believing, contrary to all historical evidence, that changing control of Congress and the Executive Branch between Democrats and Republicans produces sorely needed reforms. But mainstream politicians are serial betrayers. Thus, people suffer from delusional political faith.

Millions of non-wealthy Americans believe that the economy works for them. This persists despite reams of facts that show how working- and middle-class people are not receiving their fair share of national income and wealth. They keep running on a debt treadmill that will not take them to the proverbial American dream. What they get is economic insecurity, inequality and injustice. Consumer confidence is an oxymoron. This is delusional prosperity.

Viral delusional thinking is that America sets the gold standard for democracies. The rest of the world, however, to its credit sees an arrogant nation with a government that uses its military strength foolishly and sees its policies rewarding the rich at the expense of all others. People from Finland to New Zealand question why Americans do not receive universal health care, why its workers are sacrificed for global trade and corporate powers, why millions of its citizens go hungry and homeless, why so few people bother to vote, why so many politicians are convicted of crimes, and why there are more people in prisons than in all other countries combined. Yet Americans by and large keep thinking that their constitutional republic gives them first class democracy. This is delusional patriotism.

So, what are we to do? Keep expressing dissent by marching and protesting in the streets? Keep signing petitions on the Internet? Keep demanding impeachment of Bush? Keep reading and writing angry diatribes on progressive websites? Keep voting for mainstream politicians from the two major parties, hoping for a political messiah? Keep obeying Bush by borrowing, spending, shopping and consuming to keep our debt-ridden nation afloat?

Such activities release anger, but are largely placebo self-medications, unlikely to provide the permanent solutions our nation needs. Protests serve more as entertainment for the nation than a force to tear down the rotten system. Scale is a problem. Maybe if one million angry Americans sat down peacefully in the streets all around the White House, defying police action for many days, just maybe the system would crack. Protests must have a revolutionary character. They must induce fear into the hearts of smug and delusional power elites – like Dick Cheney.

The real needs are structural reforms that combat the major societal delusions that are driving America downhill. We must attack the root causes of problems rather than provide temporary relief or cover-up of symptoms.

Delusional political faith and delusional prosperity require profound reforms in our political system. A new competitive political party is needed. One that is guided by a set of principles that both mainstream Democrats and Republicans can not opportunistically accept, because the principles clearly conflict with their rotten behavior. A recent New America Foundation survey of Californians found that “seven in 10 voters say they often feel they must choose the lesser of two evils; more than half the voters say California needs another major political party.”

Delusional patriotism is tougher to remedy. To revitalize American democracy we must have a national dialogue. Heed the words of the great John Marshall: “The people made the constitution, and the people can unmake it. It is the creature of their will, and lives only by their will.” And James Madison: “the people have an indubitable, unalienable, and indefeasible right to reform or change their Government, whenever it be found adverse or inadequate to the purposes of its institution.” Thomas Jefferson believed that the constitution-drafting process should be repeated by each generation of Americans. That’s what real freedom is all about. A great democracy must be much more than stable – it must be self-correcting.

When a political system no longer deserves trust, citizens must trust themselves. Considering how doggedly our unrepresentative democracy stays under the grip of moneyed special interests and fails large fractions of Americans, more direct democracy aimed squarely at major reforms is desperately needed. That requires a lot more than protesting and ranting. Some urge citizens' assemblies, or national initiative elections. I and others believe that we have a constitutional right to Article V Conventions. However, elitist status quo forces have made the population afraid of such activities – a sick delusional, status quo bias belief. If it persists, Americans will not set themselves free of the oppressive forces that have hijacked their nation. They will keep venting their anger as dissenters or stay distractive consumers rather than work to return power to the people.

LET’S NOT DELUDE OURSELVES THAT ALL WILL BE WELL AFTER BUSH IS GONE. AS AWFUL AS BUSH IS, HE IS A SYMPTOM OF WHAT AILS OUR NATION. Our nation will remain in need of deep reforms. Millions of dissidents must wake up to what is really needed and rally around a revolutionary strategy.

Posted by Joel S. Hirschhorn at February 9, 2007 9:49 AM
Comments
Comment #207320

As important as this issue is, I predict it will receive little attention.

Joel S. Hirschhorn: Will Americans learn to trust their fellow citizens or stay stuck on stupidly backing serial political betrayers?
Joel, What Americans need is not merely trust, but they desparately need education to understand the basic human trait that is at the root of most of our problems (and all other governments, organizations, and society). Then, sufficiently understanding that root cause, educate, educate, educate. Educate others about the importance of Education, Transparency, and Power.
  • Responsibility = Power + Conscience + Education + Transparency + Accountability
  • Corruption = Power - Conscience - Education - Transparency - Accountability

Where:

  • Conscience = the source of moral and ethical judgment; a sense of right and wrong; a sense of caring. A good Conscience is not merely knowing what is right or wrong, but caring enough to do what is right, and provides the motivation to seek the balance of Education, Transparency, Accountability, and Power required for any successful society, government, or organization;

  • Education = an understanding of the importance of: Education, Transparency, Accountability, Power, Responsibility, Corruption, and the fundamental human desire to seek security and prosperity with the least effort and pain, and that some will resort to dishonest, unethical, or illegal methods to obtain it;

  • Transparency = visibility and simplification of cleverly over-complicated processes to reveal and identify abusers, create outrage, reduce opportunities for abuse, and discourage abuse and dishonesty;

  • Accountability = consequences needed to encourage law enforcement, encourage ethical behavior, and discourage abuse and dishonesty;

  • Power = force required to enforce the laws, discontinue abuse, ensure consequences, punish abusers, and discourage abuse and dishonesty; but unchecked Power without sufficient Education, Transparency, and Accountability breeds Corruption.

Voters can not arrive at a solution, until voters understand the basic root cause, and how to account for the basic human factor at the root of the Problem.
Then, voters have the one simple, responsible mechanism, right under their very own noses, that voters were supposed to be using all along to peacefully force government to be Transparent, Responsible and Accountable too !

  • Stop Repeat Offenders.
  • Don’t Re-Elect Them !

No doubt about it.
Bush and Cheney are truly delusional about Iraq, and it is (as you say): “causing incredible suffering and death, as well as squandering our nation’s wealth.”

Without sufficient education, slumbering voters are motivated only by pain and misery, and more of it is on the way. Some of it is already unavoidable.

Joel S. Hirschhorn: But mainstream politicians are serial betrayers. Thus, people suffer from delusional political faith.
Too many are brainwashed into pulling the party-lever (i.e. voting straight ticket). They are also tricked into wallowing in the extremely effective, clever, divisive, circular, distracting partisan warfare. It taps-into the voters laziness by convincing them to just pull the party-lever, by letting THEIR party do the thinking for them, by fueling the hatred of the OTHER party, and by tricking the voters to keep rewarding them by repeatedly re-electing them; essentially programming (by rewarding them) politicians for bad behavior.
Joel S. Hirschhorn: Millions of non-wealthy Americans believe that the economy works for them. This persists despite reams of facts that show how working- and middle-class people are not receiving their fair share of national income and wealth.
They’ll get their education.

It’s on the way.
This supposedly rosy economy is being propped up by massive debt, borrowing, spending, and excessive money-printing.
When the painful consequences of so much fiscal irresponsibility finally arrives, the majority of Americans will hopefully finally understand that they let it happen by allowing themselves to be manipulated and controlled, and by rewarding irresponsible politicians by repeated re-electing them. It’s that simple.

Joel S. Hirschhorn: So, what are we to do? Keep expressing dissent by marching and protesting in the streets? Keep signing petitions on the Internet? … Keep reading and writing angry diatribes on progressive websites?
Yes. But we also need to help educate voters to reject the clever mechanisms (e.g. partisan warfare) used to manipulate and control the voters.
Joel S. Hirschhorn: Such activities release anger, but are largely placebo self-medications, unlikely to provide the permanent solutions our nation needs.
True. Facts and logic are needed.

Still, that may not be enough, but giving up won’t accomplish anything either.
Education, education, education.
Learn to recognze the extremely effective partisan warfare, reject it, and reject those that fuel it.
The destructiveness of the partisan warfare, and the need to understand the root cause can NOT be overstated.
Education is the only hope.
We will get it too, one way or another.
It may be (as it most often is) the hard way, but giving up won’t accomplish anything.
Yes, we may have to learn the hard way, and many painful consequences are already in the pipeline, but the longer we keep sailing toward the iceberg, the less time we’ll have to avert increasingly painful consequences.
The fact is, there is one very simple solution right under our very own noses.

    Stop Rewarding Irresponsible Incumbent Politicians by Repeatedly Re-Electing Them !
Joel S. Hirschhorn: The real needs are structural reforms that combat the major societal delusions that are driving America downhill. We must attack the root causes of problems rather than provide temporary relief or cover-up of symptoms.
Reforms are needed, but none will ever materialize without first addressing the root cause, and simple solution to our many pressing problems.
Joel S. Hirschhorn: That requires a lot more than protesting and ranting. Some urge citizens’ assemblies, or national initiative elections. I and others believe that we have a constitutional right to Article V Conventions. However, elitist status quo forces have made the population afraid of such activities – a sick delusional, status quo bias belief. If it persists, Americans will not set themselves free of the oppressive forces that have hijacked their nation. They will keep venting their anger as dissenters or stay distractive consumers rather than work to return power to the people.
Yes, by all means (i.e. an Article V Convention). But, also, Education. No organization, government, or society can thrive without a basic understanding of one (however unpleasant) human trait, and the importance of Transparency and Accountability to control Power to reduce Corruption.
Joel S. Hirschhorn: LET’S NOT DELUDE OURSELVES THAT ALL WILL BE WELL AFTER BUSH IS GONE. AS AWFUL AS BUSH IS, HE IS A SYMPTOM OF WHAT AILS OUR NATION. Our nation will remain in need of deep reforms. Millions of dissidents must wake up to what is really needed and rally around a revolutionary strategy.
You got that right.

Some think the last election fixed everything.
That is delusional too.
Especially when 90% of the same incumbents are still there (in Congress).
The problem is that voters have programmed politicians to be irresponsible by rewarding them by repeatedly re-electing them, regardless of how fiscally and morally irresponsible they are.

The voters will suffer the painful consequences, and they will only have themselves to thank for it.
Unfortunately, the innocent, younger and future generations will have to suffer too.

On the bright side, the numbers of independent voters is growing, because they are beginning to realize that the two-party duopoly are just taking turns being irresponsible and unaccountable.

A year has passed now, and still, no one can name 10, 20, 50, 100, much less 268 (half of 535) in Congress that are responsible; don’t vote for pork-barrel, waste, growing an already bloated government; are not FOR-SALE; and don’t look the other way. Education is needed to start publicizing every vote of every politician to reveal the nefarious reasons why they vote the way they do, and why they continually refuse to adequately address the nation’s most pressing problems, and a myriad of no-brainer, common-sense, responsible reforms.

Posted by: d.a.n at February 9, 2007 12:29 PM
Comment #207331
Will Americans learn to trust their fellow citizens or stay stuck on stupidly backing serial political betrayers?

I might be cynical but I’ll bet on the later. And that’s to our detriment.
What America needs are leaders that will tackle the problems facing this country and do something to actually solve them. But we won’t get them from either major party.
While our politicians sell their soles and the welfare of this country to the highest bidder they ignore the problems this country faces. Oh they give lip service to them. Like the promises immigration reform we heard during the election last year. Where’s immigration reform now? And why weren’t our politicians doing something about it long before 06?
Just changing the party in control of Congress and the White House doesn’t do on bit of good when both parties are full of corrupt politicians selling us down the river for their own gain.
When the voters of this country finally wake up to what’s going on up there in DC, then, and only then, will we get the government of the people, by the people, and for the people, back. But by then I afraid it just might be to late.

Posted by: Ron Brown at February 9, 2007 1:27 PM
Comment #207333
A year has passed now, and still, no one can name 10, 20, 50, 100, much less 268 (half of 535) in Congress that are responsible;

OK d.a.n, I’ll list 10.
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
9.
10.

How’s that?

Posted by: Ron Brown at February 9, 2007 1:32 PM
Comment #207336

Joel, with our population calling each other baby killers, traitors, scam artists, corrupters of youth, and indolent, shiftless pigs at the public trough, it is pretty hard to see how Americans will ever trust each other again. Look at how short lived the unity after 9/11 was.

Posted by: David R. Remer at February 9, 2007 1:54 PM
Comment #207341

Amen David. There are two United States of America now and its not going to get any better.

Posted by: kctim at February 9, 2007 2:11 PM
Comment #207344

Funny! (in a sad way).
Ron, check this and this (about clean elections) out.

In a voting nation, an educated electorate is paramount, and this Article 5 Convention could raise awareness, and provide a valuable vehicle for more voter eduation. While simply not re-electing irresponsible incumbents is the easiest approach, that simple solution is lost on too many voters, who prefer to wallow in the petty partisan warfare (and I used to be one of them).

I agree with Joel Hirschhorn.

Most voters don’t seem to understand that we are in trouble, and it could get much worse, and the majority of voters are most likely about to learn some very painful lessons if there are not some major reforms soon.

Some painful consequences are already unavoidable. It’s likely to start with an economic melt-down (possibly as bad as the Great Depression), created by 30+ years of massive debt, borrowing, spending, and excessive money-printing. The money-printing will get worse too, because the Fed and government will see no other way out of the mess, but it will only postpone the painful consequences. We are running out of time. Few realize it because they fail to realize that this supposedly rosy economy is being propped up with massive debt, borroing, spending, and money-printing. It can’t last foreever. It has lasted for too long already, as evidenced by the $8.7 trillion National Debt, the $12.8 trillion Social Security debt, the $450 billion PBGC debt, the hundreds of billions of unfunded Medicare liabilities, the unfunded liabilities for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the unfunded liabilities for the Medicare prescription drug system, not to mention the massive cost of the national healthcare system being contemplated now … possibly the last straw.

David R. Remer wrote: Joel, with our population calling each other baby killers, traitors, scam artists, corrupters of youth, and indolent, shiftless pigs at the public trough, it is pretty hard to see how Americans will ever trust each other again. Look at how short lived the unity after 9/11 was.
Yes, but voters will get past that when it becomes too painful, and we are getting closer every day to it.

When it gets painful enough, they will do something about it.
That something could make things better, or worse.
If we wait too long, it could end up very badly (civil war, totalitarianim, a Great Depression, etc.).

If we are smart, we’ll simply stop rewarding bad politicians by repeatedly re-electiong them.
That’s the simple thing we were supposed to be doing all along, to peacefully reform government.

Unfortuately, politicians have a very powerful control mechanism to control voters. Even some of the smartest people in America are vulnerable to it. It is extremely effective at tapping into peoples’ own laziness, rather than do their own thinking for themselves. The extremely effective partisan warfare can not be overstated. Recognizing and rejecting it is paramount.

Posted by: d.a.n at February 9, 2007 2:23 PM
Comment #207378

I don’t delude myself. We’re a lot less free than most think. However, there is a world of difference between Bush and Gore. Gore would have been a fantastically better president, and that would have made a difference.

Posted by: Max at February 9, 2007 3:44 PM
Comment #207393

Yes d.a.n, it is sad.
Thanks for the links. I’ve seen the one on clean election before. I’ve been home with a sick youngin the last couple of days and have been trying to find it.
The one on the Article V conventions I haven’t heard of before. I’ll sure enough check it out closer.
The boy’s starting to bounce off the walls. He’ll be able to go back to school Monday.

Posted by: Ron Brown at February 9, 2007 5:23 PM
Comment #207409

“and why there are more people in prisons than in all other countries combined”

Because of the War on Drugs. Yet few, even among progressives, want to talk about the ills of our obviously failed War on Drugs.

Posted by: Richard Rhodes at February 9, 2007 7:07 PM
Comment #207438

Richard and Joel.

It is totally false that there are more people in prison in the US than in all the rest of the world combined.

The US has the most in prison, yes, but if you only combine number 2 (China) and number 3 (Russia), the total surpasses the total in the US.

The US may or may not, however, have the highest rate of imprisonment per capita. The reason I say “may not” is that this is one statistic that is notoriously fuzzy. A lot of nations aren’t too keen on releasing reliable figures about such matters.

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at February 9, 2007 10:33 PM
Comment #207473

My opinion?

The stars are not all set to fall on us and impale us with their sharp twinkling points.

We’re doing better than we think. Our biggest problems are the things we don’t face because we’ve so successfully scared the shit out of ourselves about things. The world is a survivable place, you know. Typical Americans will live into their seventies. You are not likely to die in a terrorist attack, or to be invaded by a foreign power.

We got substantial problems, but we need cooler heads to deal with them, and less ideological bullshit. We also need to stop confusing great power with God-like power. We can’t prevent all disasters, though we can always make sure that some don’t get worse than they have to be. We’re going to get knocked on our ass on occasion, despite everything we do to prevent that. The key here is responsibility, honesty, among other virtues like them.

We do need to deal with our fiscal issues, and stop beating around this particular Bush with the old Club for Growth line. We have had tax rates far greater than what we have now with periods when government share of GDP or debt share of GDP were far greater. Yes, it will likely take sacrifices to get out of this, but for Heaven’s sake, don’t rule out taxes. It’s that inane fear of taxation that’s gotten us into our current difficulties. Like it or not, we’re paying for a big government. Like it or not, we have the Congress we have. All good solutions must start from and change the current position. You’re not going to get your ideal starting point.

You will have to get other people to agree with you, especially some people you might feel tempted to call “idiots”, “deluded”, “depraved”, “Demonic”, or even worse, “liberal”. Refrain from that, as you might just want a helping hand from the person you’ve just been browbeating for being subhuman.

Some folks might look at disdain at people who are protesting, but they’re missing something: those are people who care enough to take time out of their lives and do that.

If we continue to get into this game of convincing ourselves that people will do nothing, care for nothing, and are too unintelligent to care for themselves, we will only justify further a system of cynical elitist power, since after all, that is all which such a population deserves. Only when we recognize that people can overcome the lowest common denominator of behavior and strive for something more can we honestly and full-heartedly inspire them to do just that. If we seek only to manipulate the system to our desires according to technicalities and the cynical use of power, then we will shape ourselves towards that and become no better than those whose power we resent.

Those who seek purity in politics at all costs usually cost themselves their purity of character. Politics is imperfect, as people are imperfect. It will always be a struggle to maintain standards and uphold decency in government. The difference between general corruption and accountability is how effectively fight our own imperfection at the same time we deal with that of others.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at February 10, 2007 12:04 PM
Comment #207479

LO,

You have the facts correct, but Richard and Joel have a good point…we are less free than meany think.

The stars are not all set to fall on us and impale us with their sharp twinkling points.

Beautiful metaphor, Stephen, I love it. I agree we are not on a course for facism. I also agree talking in a demeaning and punishing way to people will not get them to follow you. (excluding the masochists of course)

Posted by: gergle at February 10, 2007 12:51 PM
Comment #207521
Stephen Daugherty wrote: You will have to get other people to agree with you, especially some people you might feel tempted to call “idiots”, “deluded”, “depraved”, “Demonic”, or even worse, “liberal”. Refrain from that, as you might just want a helping hand from the person you’ve just been browbeating for being subhuman.
Joel Hirschhorn, nor anyone in this thread said anyone was “idiots”, “depraved”, “Demonic”, or “liberal”.

He is saying many voters are delusional about certain things only, and he is correct.

Especially those that are so fond of fueling the circular partisan warfare , which fuels the hatred of the OTHER party, divides the voters by pitting them against each other, and distracts the voters from more substantive issues and the irresponsibility of THEIR own politicians.

Stephen Daugherty wrote: Some folks might look at disdain at people who are protesting, but they’re missing something: those are people who care enough to take time out of their lives and do that.
Depends on what they’re protesting about. If it’s mere partisan warfare, that disdain is justified. If it’s all truly responsible (which is ALL of us), then the protesting is justified.
  • (01) Some voters love THEIR party, and badly want to believe that THEIR party is the solution to so many of the nation’s pressing problems.
  • (02) Some voters, as time goes on, become disillusioned.
  • (03) Some voters switch parties.
  • (05) Some voters become complacent, give up, and tune out.
  • (04) Some voters don’t care or don’t have the slightest idea.
  • (06) Some voters don’t see any party as all that different from the OTHER.
  • (07) Some voters reserve the option to vote for the best candidates (or lesser of two evils), regardless of party.
  • (08) Some voters are blindly loyal to THEIR party, no matter what.
  • (09) Some voters hate the OTHER party, more than they like THEIR own party, and love to fuel the destructive partisan warfare.

Now that Democrats are the new IN-PARTY (with a very small lead; not what one would call a clear mandate), it’s interesting how those of the new “IN PARTY” are saying things like:

  • The stars are not all set to fall on us and impale us with their sharp twinkling points.

  • We’re doing better than we think.

  • We’re going to get knocked on our ass on occasion

  • It’s that inane fear of taxation that’s gotten us into our current difficulties. Like it or not, we’re paying for a big government. Like it or not, we have the Congress we have.

  • You’re not going to get your ideal starting point.

  • Politics is imperfect, as people are imperfect.

  • It will always be a struggle to maintain standards and uphold decency in government.

I could have sworn I saw lots of Republicans sayin’ the same things when they were the IN-PARTY.
It sounds a lot like paving-the-way for mediocrity, at best.
It soulds like excuses, at worst.

Perhaps it is because Congress is still ignoring the nation’s most pressing problems, and some are starting top notice it?
It’s amazing how attitudes change when the IN PARTY / OUT-PARTY trade trade places.

I think the Article 5 Convention is a good idea, that will raise awareness, provide a vehicle for more voter education, and increase voter interest and participation in government. What’s to fear?
Is government so dysfunctional and fragile, that it can’t survive it?
If so, we’ve got bigger things to fear.

Posted by: d.a.n at February 10, 2007 6:30 PM
Comment #207625

Dan-
You’re a partisan, just not for a party. You’ve got your set of beliefs, and more power to you for that, and you want people to agree with you. You have, though, all the blind spots that any other subjective person(that includes, roughly, everybody), and as such, you can be wrong. You can insist on a policy that if it came to pass would be mistaken, or if relative effect weren’t in question, intolerable to a majority of the country. We all like to think that if we ruled the world, all would be right, but that is a delusion most people share, even the wise from time to time.

I’ve been raised in conservative surroundings by liberal parents, grown up the first part of my life under Republican leadership, essentially part of that party, then grew up progressively more liberal, and then went to one of the most conservative universities in the country, only to return to a liberal household in a Republican community, arguing with conservatives of all stripes for the last three years. Rather than being alienated from both parties, I see a great deal from both sides. I know what these people want, what they believe, and why they believe these things. I know what motivates many evangelicals. I know what motivates many who are secular.

I’ve got my beliefs, and few would think me half-hearted about them, but there’s another side to me that understands the reasoning behind the other side, the emotions, the beliefs that support what many would consider irrational or even evil thoughts. I understand the necessity for the debate, for the conflict, and why simply solving things all in one fell swoop would never work.

The word delusion disrespectfully implies insanity, and insanity disrespectfully implies the inability to think for oneself with a clear mind and heart. Our Democracy is founded upon and works best upon the premise that opponents, if not utterly rational, are rational enough to be dealt with by political arbitration, rather than armed conflict, forced takeovers, and other means of wresting power by involuntary means.

The use of the Article Five Convention to force a constitutional convention short of the sufficient and contemporary public support for such a wholesale change in our overriding law smacks of such disrespect. Unless people are involved from the start, it will be a half-hearted and half-wrought process, and it will be the worse for it.

So will any political change. As bad as things can get, we are best served by political strategies that build consensus rather than trying to manipulate them into existence. This is the serious work of those who are willing to consider more than just their own conception of how this nation should be governed.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at February 11, 2007 5:13 PM
Comment #207682

Excellent article Joel. Someone once said that the price of liberty is eternal vigilance. For a democracy to be meaningful, it requires a citizenship to do more than just vote every so many years. And even then, in many of our democracies, too few actually bother to make that minimal effort.

I am not hopeful that the masses of citizens in democracies are willing to take on the true responsibility of citizenship, and indeed I believe that the powerbrokers depend on this, with their Straussian ideology. In order for them to do so, I believe, as d.a.n. often says, an existential crisis will have to arise, causing massive hardship to the masses until such time as they reach rock bottom and say “No More”, just like an alcoholic has to come face to face with reality before he or she can start to control their disease. Democracies can only work for the welfare of all, if enough of the people are prepared to hold those they elect accountable and ensure their elected leaders know who their true masters are. The fact is, the masses are too distracted by ephemeral nothingness to ever raise their eyes to see the true nature of what is happening in our societies, leaving the path of the future clear to those who would advance only their own megalomanical agendas. Roll on the revolution.

Posted by: Paul in Euroland at February 12, 2007 7:16 AM
Comment #207729

Joel and Paul, some very good comments and observations.

Two fundamental flaws in our Constitution at its inception were non-universal suffrage and failure to anticipate and check and balance political parties.

Our founding fathers inability to assent to universal suffrage, meant that voting was never rewarded as it should be in any democratic election, nor made a national right, holiday, and cause for celebration. To this day we have many state laws that restrict voting rights and remove them from citizens, and conduct elections on workdays which clearly favors the more powerful and affluent.

Our founding fathers failure to anticipate and check the power of political parties has resulted in the current system we have of selling government and the nation’s future and policies to the highest bidders.

Yet, for large millions of Americans the Constitution is a bit like the Bible, not to be questioned, modified, nor made into a living prescriptive guide for the elevation of humankind in changing times and circumstances. Thus, we live with a flawed system that both fails to reward and celebrate democratic elections, and tie the fortunes of politicians to the fortunes of the people and the nation’s well being.

Many work much of their lives to correct these flaws in our nation’s beginning, as many worked to overcome slavery and other ills of the mindset of the 18th century, with huge success. Perfection is not possible in any government.

Perfection can never be the goal of government as it is defined differently from one individual to another. But, governance of, by, and for the people, their lot, and their progeny, with the goal of improvement with each generation is an achievable and most noble of ideals for government. Were it not for political parties seeking ever to limit the people’s options to those which preserve their power, America would truly be the best and greatest form of democracy on the planet.

Posted by: David R. Remer at February 12, 2007 2:14 PM
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