There is an enormous difference between what Abraham Lincoln called “government of the people, by the people, for the people”, and the pseudo-democracies that engulf us.
The pseudo-democracies are actually oligarchies because the governments are controlled by political parties and the parties are controlled by a small number of people. These institutions are profoundly undemocratic. They raise unscrupulous people to public office by controlling the options the people are allowed to vote on, and those who control the options control the outcome!!! This travesty works because we have been taught to believe political parties are right and are inevitable.
We’ve been misled.
Its true partisanship is natural. We align ourselves with others who share our views. Through them, we hone our ideas and gain courage from the knowledge that we are not alone in our beliefs. Partisanship is healthy when it helps us give voice to our views. It is destructive when it achieves power. All ideologies, whether of the right or the left, differ only in the extent to which they can impose their biases on the public. The danger is not in partisanship, the danger is in allowing partisans to control government.
If we are to achieve democracy, the first step must be to understand how parties pervert politics. A major factor in the perversion is political campaigning. Campaigning is a very expensive process and the costs corrupt the process. The parties need immense amounts of money and raise it by selling their only product – the laws we endure.
To make matters worse, campaigning has a corrosive effect on the candidates. It is a training course in the art of deception. It is centered on deceit, misdirection and obfuscation rather than integrity and commitment to the public interest. Furthermore, campaigners are lionized by their supporters and suffer the insidious effect of repeatedly proclaiming their own rectitude. These things have a debilitating effect on the candidate’s character and a destructive effect on society.
The result of this corrupt process is corrupt politicians. They cannot resolve national debts. They led the U.S. into war with fictitious threats of WMD, Weapons of Mass Destruction. They maintain laws allowing the growth of huge corporations that suck trillions of dollars out of the world’s economies to the detriment of the humans among us. They gut and repeal laws that protected us from monstrous banks and then called them ‘Too Big To Fail’. They are, as Senator Evan Bayh of Indiana said, unable to conduct the people’s business, and, as Senator Ted Kaufman of Delaware said, under the suffocating influence of money.
To attain the alternative we seek, we must help people understand how and why the systems claiming to be ‘democracies’ fail to serve the people. Until a nation understands its political distress is caused by what we’ve been taught is ‘the best system on earth’, the people will not support a change.
Then we must devise an electoral process that seeks out the individuals best suited to resolve the issues of the time. The process must let those who do not wish to participate step aside, while advancing individuals with the integrity, the intellect, the energy to serve the public interest.
There is no shortage of such people among us. What we lack is the means of seeking them out and raising them to public office.