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Just Don’t Call It Democracy

What do we want, what are our demands? That’s been a question many have raised, and answered, particularly since the Occupy movement in 2011. Many complained about Occupy at the time because it seemingly did not have any demands. The focus was on Wall Street and the 99/1% theme and the narrative that our government works for the 1% and not the 99%. There were lists of demands going around at the time, some with 15-20 items ranging from ending the wars and establishing public banking to addressing climate change and jobs programs.

But in the end wasn’t it and isn’t it about one primary thing – democracy? That’s what Occupy was all about, the fact that our government operates for the rich and powerful and the rest of us can eat dirt.

OK Class, listen up.

A Democracy is “a government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections”  (Merriam Webster), or

“Democracy is a form of government in which all eligible citizens are meant to participate equally – either directly or, through elected representatives, indirectly – in the proposal, development and establishment of the laws by which their society is run. (Wikipedia)

Democracy is supposed to be socially equal and classless, i.e, the rich bastards are not supposed to have all the power. Democracy is Power to the People.

There are two basic forms of democracy, direct democracy and representative democracy. Our country uses both forms, primarily representative. Direct democracy exists only at the state level and below in the form of referendums and initiatives placed on the ballot. Citizens in states that have voted to legalize marijuana and gay marriage have practiced direct democracy. Citizens can raise and lower their taxes to fund schools and libraries through direct democracy.

Some like to argue that our form of government is a Republic as opposed to a Democracy. That’s an argument that goes back to this nation’s founding when “all the young dudes” with the wigs were sitting around smoking weed and thinking about what kind of government was best while their slaves and women folk stayed back on the plantation. Primarily the arguments were about direct democracy versus representative democracy, or democracy versus a republic as James Madison argued.

Whatever, it’s still all about electing representatives and a President who are supposed to represent all people, not just the rich. Or was that “We the People, All Men are Created Equal” talk just rubbish?

Some argue that this form of representative government is actually an oligarchy, not a democracy. An oligarchy is defined as a small group of people having control of a country, organization, or institution.  The word Democracy comes from the Greek words Demos, meaning people, and Kratos, meaning power. Power to the People. The hippies had it right, man. The number of representatives in the House of Representatives in 1791 was 69 while the U.S. population was just over four million. That’s a ratio of about 58,000 citizens to 1 representative. Today there are 435 House Representatives “representing” 316 million U.S. citizens. That’s a ratio of about 734,000 citizens to 1 representative. That’s not Power to the People, that’s power to a small group of individuals, i.e., an oligarchy.  And those individuals are controlled by another small group of individuals, the .001%.  A small group of people controlling a small group of people controlling the rest of us idiots.  We in the United States of Free and Brave People call that Democracy.

(Note: Back in those glorious days of the early 1900’s when this country was completely hijacked by the bankers in 1913, Congress passed the Apportionment Act of 1911 capping the number of Representatives at 435. Over one hundred years and no change. Wonder why?  I guess they thought 435 was just the right amount of representation we citizens needed.)

Tell me how that is democracy. How is it that one person can represent the interests of over 700,000 people? Even with all the outside pressures from corporations and billionaires and RICH PEOPLE, it’s not possible. It’s not democracy, not unless you reinvent the word. It’s not “Power to the People”, that’s for sure. I’m 59 years old and I’ve never, ever, ever been asked by a politician what I thought about an issue prior to their votes in Congress. I always wondered about that when I was young – how do they know what my opinion is if they don’t ask? I learned, as we all have, that is just not how it works. Our opinions don’t matter.

Then when you consider what has become of this “representative” democracy, it becomes just that more ludicrous. The two party system that is corrupt as hell. The inability of third parties to become part of the game. The billion dollar elections, Citizen’s United, the thinktanks and lobbyists, the billionaires, the millionaire/billioinaire Congress and Senate. The CIA and NSA and the CFR. There’s just no way this representative system of government can be called democracy, the power to the people.

Which brings us back to what do we want. Sure, we want to end the wars, feed the people and save the planet. But we can’t do that without democracy and we do not live in a democracy. Is that what we want? Do we want a democracy or don’t we. It’s that frigging simple.

We’re back to where we were over two hundred years ago. We need the same discussions.  The system of government installed for this country doesn’t deliver democracy. There were many back then who predicted this would happen. They said the people would have to rise up and make changes, even carry out another REVOLUTION.  They even put that in the Constitution.

The funny thing about Americans is how prideful we are about our “democracy”, and yet we live our lives under an illusion. The United States of America is nothing but an illusion. But it’s still up to us. We can change things if we want, it depends on what we want. Do we want democracy or do we want to continue this silly and self defeating game of voting for an oligarchy that doesn’t represent us? Do we really want to address this question? That’s the first thing we have to do, address the damn question.

We can have direct democracy. We can have that Power to the People we’ve dreamed of since that first toke over the line in 1969. We can create a system, such as breaking the large nation-state into small, manageable units and establishing thousands of local assemblies that debate the issues and then collect the votes nationwide. We can implement a national initiative process to vote nationally on gay marriage and legalizing weed and ending imperialism and saving Social Security. We can create democracy. First we have to decide if we really want it, democratically.  Because we can’t have it with the system now in place.

A good first step  is to organize a boycott of the Democratic and Republican national political parties for the 2016 election process. Over half the eligible voters are already boycotting this undemocratic system. Join them if you haven’t already and let’s make it official. We can call the shots here, it’s what this country is supposed to be all about. Power to the People.  Let’s demand democracy. We can say we want a new government, one that is democratic. That’s where it all starts.

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