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Crowdsourcing Our Way Out of the Democracy Crisis

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Posted on Jul 14, 2014

    Rolling Rebellion in Seattle. Photo by Alex Garland

By Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers, Popular Resistance

This piece first appeared at Popular Resistance.

More Americans are fed up with the phony democracy that exists in the United States. Across the nation people are engaged in democracy rebellions as many re-examine the nation’s roots, especially with the 4th of July weekend just passing.

The Declaration of Independence proclaims that when a government does not support the rights and needs of the people, then

“it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

Have we reached that point? Many think so.  A recent poll found 74% of Americans agree the broken political system needs to be fixed first. The poll found that “corruption of government by big money and frustration with the abuses of the political ruling class: incumbent politicians, lobbyists, the elite media, big business, big banks, big unions, and big special interests unites Americans.”  And, “the battle lines of the new political order are emerging. When presented with the proposition that ‘the real struggle for America is not between Democrats and Republicans but mainstream America and the ruling political elites,’ over 66% of voters agree.”

According to the poll, Americans see the sad reality of the state of the country and are ready to rebel:

-      “Eighty-six percent of all voters believe political leaders are more interested in protecting their power than in doing what’s right for the American people.

-      Eighty-three percent believe the country is run by an alliance of incumbent politicians, media pundits, lobbyists, and other interests for their own gain.

-      Further, 79% believe that powerful interests from Wall Street banks to corporations, unions, and PACs use campaign and lobbying money to rig the system to serve themselves and that they loot the national treasury at the expense of every American.”

We have highlighted how representative democracy often does the opposite of what super-majorities of the people want (see also this and this). The people see this lack of representation and turn off — half do not register to vote and in most elections tiny minorities of registered voters bother to vote. Recently there have been reports about how government no longer represents the people but represents a small minority of the wealthy (see these three reports here, here and here). Academics are beginning to describe the United States as an oligarchy, plutocracy or managed democracy.  All this adds up to: The US government has lost its democratic legitimacy.

Americans Faced Blatantly Undemocratic Actions

Repeatedly the people of the United States are shown how anti-democratic the government really is.  We saw this multiple times just in the last week.

The power of the big business corporate interests is regularly seen in the government where there is massive crony capitalism and corporate welfare. Policies are designed to help the corporate interests even if it means undermining jobs at home and expanding the wealth divide. The government is pursuing rigged corporate trade deals like the Trans Pacific Partnership in secret. This week, TPP negotiators fled thousands of miles across Canada to avoid protesters and public scrutiny.

We also see it with President Obama’s landmark legislation, the Affordable Care Act.  While sold to the public as providing healthcare to all and controlling the costs of healthcare, Obamacare will do neither. It is really a market-based approach to healthcare which enriches the corporations, e.g. insurance, pharmaceutical and for-profit hospitals. Although fewer people are uninsured, they still face financial barriers that make necessary care unaffordable.

In addition to corporatism, the US security state is an affront to real democracy. Thanks toEdward Snowden who blew the whistle on the NSA, we now know the government is conducting dragnet surveillance of our Internet communications and telephone calls.  This week it was revealed that most of the people caught in the targeted NSA surveillance (not the dragnet searches) were not terrorists or people threatening the United States but commonplace Americans.  We also learned that in the Muslim community, no matter how patriotic someone was, they were likely to be targeted for surveillance.

The Snowden case, and other cases involving whistleblowers, show another failed aspect of US governance – the courts. Hillary Clinton joined John Kerry in urging Snowden to come home and face prosecution claiming he could defend himself in court. The reality is there is no way he could receive a fair trial. In fact, prosecution of whistleblowers has proven itself to be more like the court in Alice in Wonderland which was a mockery of due process and where the trial concluded with the Queen calling out: ‘Sentence first, verdict later.’

This week Snowden applied to have his political asylum extended in Russia and it is likely to be granted, because people around the world see how unjust the United States has become. A government official in Russia said that Edward Snowden’s temporary asylum is likely to be extended on the grounds that “his life is endangered.”

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