Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Perfecting Democracy

Posted in response to this question on Quora

Democracy: Is  there  any form of  governance which could  serve as a better  alternative for  democracy?

I'm not qualified to comment on politics in India.  I can, however, respond to your interesting question about democracy, from the perspective of an American citizen.

The question is interesting because it calls attention to the meaning of democracy.  There is an enormous difference between true democracy - 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 is working because we have been taught to believe political parties are 'right' and are inevitable.  If we are to achieve genuine democracy, the first step must be to learn why and how parties pervert politics.

A major factor in the perversion is political 'campaigning'.  Campaigning is a very expensive process and the costs are corrupting.  The parties need immense amounts of money and raise it by selling their only product - laws.

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 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 you seek, you must first make clear how and why the systems that claim 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 you 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.

Don't scoff.

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.

Fred Gohlke

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