Friday, March 11, 2011

Democracy in Crisis

Hearing about popular vote being overturned in Missouri yesterday is yet another blow that makes the average American voter feel powerless. This time, a 52% vote to PROTECT PUPPIES being raised for profit was shot down by state legislature. Apparently, even if people create a proposal, get it on the ballot and get a majority of voters to support their proposal, state lawmakers can vote to never let it see the light of day. This can happen even when 76% of voters support the proposal!

What are voters to do in this situation? Fox News asked us; why vote at all? Indeed, many Americans already agree with this way of thinking. Only about 50% of Americans vote in national elections, compared to 80% in other "democratic" countries. Researchers at University of Rochester tell us that more Americans talk about politics than people in comparable countries, but we don't vote because we don't trust the government. Our faith first dropped in 1974, when every democracy around the world trusted their leaders more than us, except for Italy. Since then, our faith in national government has only declined.

Why is this happening? Maybe because, "85% of Americans believe corporations have too much power in our government, and people have too little?" That's what Sandy Haski from talks about in the video below. It shows an increasing corporate influence over American elections since the 1800s.

The only problem now is, how can we really pass laws to limit corporate power? If public proposals can be overturned by legislators, and all current legislators were elected by corporations, we seem to have a roadblock.


  1. Well, there's only one thing corporations want from us; our money. So while we still have some left, we wield a bit of power as consumers. But perhaps what really needs to happen in the US is a full blown protest against the government like they do in Europe. It seems like the governments there listen to their citizens more. And finally, the American citizens should demand that the House and Senate all step down, since thay are not doing what they were put in there to do.

  2. Corporations are tyrannical institutions which control most of the essentials of modern life. Without active and organized political participation by the populace they manage to staff and control the government. The Democrats are mostly the party of capital-intensive businesses and the Republicans of labor-intensive businesses. I think there are both long-term and short-term solutions. In the long term, corporations should be gotten rid of. You can't have a functioning democratic political system without a democratic economic system. I think corporations should be owned by their workers who should be able to elect their own managers and make decisions on how their firms will function. Profits would then be shared. Co-ops have a long history in Europe although they haven't been central with the exception of the anarchists in Spain during the civil war. There is no reason why these types of firms couldn't compete in the market. With economic democracy the state would also become healthier. Candidates would no longer be invested in. They would have to compete on a more even footing.

    In the short-term we can continue to organize around issues like consumer rights and organize around issues that are important to us. FDR and the New Deal is a good example. FDR has two major constituencies. Capital intensive business (which overwhelming supported the Democrats) and organized labor. There was eventually conflict between the two constituencies but not before the latter could have significant effects and helped transform the country. Nixon is another example. He was the last liberal president we had. A lot of the social programs that came out of his administration came about because of the movements of the '60s. But before you can organize you have to work on developing consciousness. The Republicans have been a lot better in providing (false) answers than the left has, largely because the Republicans have had greater financial resources. But I don't think it's hopeless. Public dissatisfaction can be channeled into productive avenues.

    - Rudy

  3. Dear Annemarie,

    I did actually find a petition online that is asking all our Congressmen to step down from their positions. Direct quote from our Declaration of Independence: "whenever any Form of Government becomes is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government."
    So on paper we have the rights you are talking about and someone is trying to push this movement through a petition. It's worth taking a look at, I do believe.