A Rotten Infrastructure of Democracy
By Roy D. Follendore III
Copyright (c) By RDFollendoreIII
The only known cure for a rotten democracy that reduces freedom is good old fashioned liberalism.
December 21, 2005
Democracy does not instantly equate to freedom and our forefathers knew this. They understood the dangerous power of mob rule and that is precisely why America does not have a purely democratic form of government. We pledge our allegiance to the flag and the 'Republic' upon which it stands, not to the democracy. Of course our Federal Government has been designed with checks and balances but those are representative of a broader physical balance. The underlying checks and balances of our modern nation exists between the faceless masses of voters and the botox elite, the weak, the strong, the rich and the poor, the land owners and the landless, the haves and the have-nots of our nation. But democracy goes much further than all of that and it is important to talk about it.
Most Americans pledge their allegiance to the mechanics of wealth, not democracy. The thing that they understand is that wealth is not linier. Because of democracy, those with more pay less for things. Those with perks have more than just cash reward advantages over those without. Those who can afford health care live longer. They can send their sons and daughters to the elate colleges that make a difference in their careers and they definitely don't have to send their sons and daughters to war zones. The rich democratically perpetuate their wealth. It is money that frees people to do things, not simply the abstract notion of democracy. Of course cash isn't a guarantee for freedom either. The continuation of freedom isn't guaranteed in the Constitution any more than wealth is.
Freedom may only be implied implied through the implementation of democracy and yet freedom is supposed to be every American citizens guarantee. The only problem is that citizens just can't use democratic freedom without cash and a credit card. That goes double for the uppity ups who make the 'democratic' rules. Politicians have to be rich to get democratically elected. Perhaps this is why in our system of democratic Government we choose to allow our politicians the opportunities to garner the economic perks that they can. Congressional politicians use their power to negotiate for themselves and their constitutes. (I once read that Congressmen have a statistical advantage in trading on the stock market and of course they do.) The moment an important Bill comes into existence, it begins to become a negotiation tool. Biased legislative riders load down the most important plans, laws and regulations passing through Congress. These are debated to the nth degree, until just before a final vote is to be taken. At that moment that Congressional Bill suddenly balloons.
Congressmen have been known to laugh when constitutes ask if they understand the Bills that are passed. It is humanly impossible to read and comprehend a large and complex Bill in so short amount of time. Each year there is so much terrible waste imposed upon our nation by such "democratic" processes that it is inevitable that our system is being put in jeopardy by very people who are supposed to be protecting it. When we then put into play the prospects that many of the appropriations imposed by these bills have hidden budgets we can see the true reasons why political decisions are constantly taking place by committees in secrecy. Of course everyone understands this, but the advantages to the Congressmen are so large that each year they do absolutely nothing about the problem.
The fact is that there can be no real freedom expressed through our system of government unless there is at least a two party system that is working for the same democratic objectives. The 'democratic' system that we have allowed our politicians to manage for us is constantly being manipulated in a biased manner for the wealthy and the new nobility of our country. The media has been fine tuned to generate an economic popularity contest, in practical terms it is not there to provide knowledge to the general public. The simple truth is that regardless of the pronouncements of a new millennia of freedom, democracy is a modern technology. It is working against the common man, as much as for him. After all, technologies have become the means by which politicians and bureaucrats can operate without a bridle and it becomes the means for denying their responsibilities. Some say that if only we had had this information at the right time, democracy could have prevented this. Others say that if only our democratic system had worked better we could have done that. The unending number of public disasters that the American citizen has been witnessing over the years bears witness to the fact that America does in fact have deep rooted problems with what we think democracy might do for us, when the simple truth is that it comes down to a few individuals who end up making the difference.
A big part of the problem is that we have continued to build and maintain the wrong systems within our democratic technological infrastructure. Our centralized form of Federal Government is becoming just as increasingly impossible to maintain as it is to constrain. Anyone who remembers the experience of learning to drive a car should be able to understand this. The natural response of a lack of control is to over control. For instance, when the Congressional leadership of our nation allowed our President to reorganize the Executive Branch, it also changed the nature of the command and control processes of Presidential power. The idea that Homeland Security might make our nation more safe depends more on Presidential accountability, but the fact is that there can be no real accountability of our President by this Congress. Democratic systems fail and can destroy themselves unless the votes are there to assure that minority issues are adequately considered. The harsh fact is that in a democratic system, the moment that decisions become so biased that all outcomes are certain, democracy becomes a dictatorship. At the heart of this thought is a patriotic lesson for us all.
If we truly want our nation to survive, the real threat for this millennia is not really coming from terrorism but from the rotten infrastructure of our democracy. When we allow our votes to be swayed by fear and vanity, we give into no less than the systematic destruction of our democratic process. The fact is that there are liars and cheats and thieves who are thriving in the heart of our nation. There are also those who don't care about wilderness and the creatures that exist in their habitat. There are those who could care less if by changing our environment, future generations suffer. Most of do not realize the fact that it is quite possible to elect a reverend Jim Jones a uniform representational America. Religion is simply a shield to hide behind and war is simply another form of opportunity for these kinds of people. The only thing that is cut and dried by the existence of our democracy is that it will fail us if we don't pay careful attention to the means by which we weld the manifestations of diversity. America needs its diversity for the same reason that it needs its ability and opportunity to argue both the reality and truth of our existence.
In an age where wars are being justified after the fact, car companies continue to build the wrong products and go broke, airlines have become the extensions of fear based federal security programs, energy companies are ripping off billions from consumers pockets, and home prices are out of sight, a change is required if a viable democracy is going to exist for anyone but the rich. The power that has been taken from the common citizens must be returned through systems that provide differences in opinions to be successfully argued to the American power base. Maybe the "dot com" boom had some things right. There was the notion that employees are part of opportunities for profit. Perhaps employees should no longer linger like commodities, but should share in the profits and responsibilities as partners. For such thinking the notion of economic democracy is necessary. For our economy this means that there must be both greater urgency and the essential rights ownership must be delivered to employees.
For its own 'democratic' welfare, America desperately needs stronger and more coherent action from civil rights groups, its labor unions and its free press. It also needs a stronger and more coherent scientific voice just as it needs a stronger and more coherent liberal voice of democratic reason. There is a ubiquitous aspect to democracy that can only be expressed though notions of liberalism. The purpose of democratic liberalism is not to overwhelm the ideological opposition but to require coexistence which supports all of the potential aspects for opportunities related to democratic values. The system in which we find our great nation is simply an empty shell without our ability to adequately represent this core democratic value. For democratic principles to occur, unbiased reason must somehow prevail over the blind conservative faith that everything works fine.
The only way that our rotten infrastructure of democracy is going to heal itself is by way of the openness of liberal reasoning.
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