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Is National Political Change Possible

For most people, the world immediately surrounding them seems to be responsive to their individual intention, choice, and action. Our current form of Democracy reinforces the opposite perception, that national government is not responsive to the individual.\r\n\r\nThe effect of individual voting is limited by the creation of electoral districts that virtually insure a candidate of only one party, Democrat or Republican, has a realistic chance of winning election from term to term. Where the possibility of competitive two party races exists, the differences between the positions of the Democrats and Republicans have become smaller, further limiting voter choice.

Once a representative has been voted into office the impact of the individual decreases further. Lobbying groups in Washington persist as elected representatives come and go. These groups use their money, paid-free speech, to write legislation and regulations, gain government contracts, get tax breaks and subsidies, and advance their self-interest in all ways that can be achieved through manipulation of government.\r\n\r\nBig money lobbying effectively replaces the one-person-one-vote system, with a one-dollar-one-favor system. As a result, the activities of government are influenced in direct proportion to the distribution of wealth through the population. Democracy based on the individual is replaced by Democracy based on the dollar. A better word for our current system of government would be Cashocracy.

Can our Cashocracy be replaced by a true Democracy based on the principal of one-person-one-vote?  Changes in, use of legislative earmarks, limits on lobbyist gifts, campaign finance laws, and third party movements, will alter the system, but not raise the one-person-one-vote principal to power. A little thinking outside the box is required to envision a modern Democratic system that is truly responsive to the individual citizen.

Electoral districts can be drawn in longitudinal bands across states, based on census data, that divide the population of a state into appropriately proportioned congressional districts, thereby eliminating district rigging. Multi select instant runoff voting would, weaken the either or voting system, and give more choice to voters. Citizen nominating jury’s could select a fixed number of candidates for each national office and those candidates’ campaigns could be publicly financed. This would limit the influence of large campaign contributions and provide a diverse selection of candidates to voters. National voting could occur over a 3-day period on the weekend with a National Voting Holliday on Friday so that more working people could participate.\r\n\r\nCitizen jury’s could be assigned to monitor and report on the activities of their elected representative. This would reduce the secrecy that allows legislators to hide the influence of paid lobbying in the legislative process. All media outlets could be required to allocate regular prime time programming slots to citizen monitor jury’s that could describe the activities and issues addressed by their legislators.

Could these, or any other significant proposals for change, become reality? All human systems resist change. The Cashocracy primarily benefits the wealthy and powerful, about 10% of the population. Its vulnerability is in the fact that it benefits the few. It survives only through obscuring that fact. This weakness makes change possible.\r\n\r\nAll change, individual and social, starts with a perceived need. Once the need for change becomes conscious the obstacles to change become obvious and the structure of what needs to change becomes clear. A period of anguish is typical at this point because the old way causes pain and creating a new way seems impossible. Anguish then gives way to a new vision of the desired future and generates energy that fuels the impulse to move forward. The question of whether change is possible becomes irrelevant at this point.

Then there is the hard work phase, where the realities that hold the old system in place are encountered actively and replaced by new behavior and systems. This process continues until the match between the vision and the reality is satisfactory and the motive to change fades.

Ronald Regan ushered in the modern Cashocracy when he said, “Government is not the solution, it’s the problem” and began to remake government based on the big business model. Let’s kick off change toward real democracy with a new slogan “We need Democracy, not Cashocracy”. After years of hard work, pushing real reform, our government will function as a one-person-one-vote system. Then we will have a Democracy that is responsive to the intention, choice, and action, of the individual citizen, and we will choose what to make of it from there.

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