“The two greatest obstacles to democracy in the United States are, first, the widespread delusion among the poor that we have a democracy, and second, the chronic terror among the rich, lest we get one.” –Edward Dowling
I like the positive tone of the following piece. It’s good to remember that in spite of everything, things can still be changed. One of the most powerful weapons for maintaining the status quo is to make us believe nothing different is even possible, so why try to change things. Apathy will never improve the world, it’s not even good for our mental health!
However, I also think our power elite may cynically allow us some token gains here and there, just to keep our discontent from boiling over. Gay marriage? Why not, if that shuts us up about prosecuting Wall Street thieves and gangsters. Legalize pot? Maybe. If that will keep us from noticing the loss of decent jobs and our meager social safety net. Labeling GMOs? Ooh, that one steps on so many corporate toes … But we may even get that, if we stop bothering our empty heads about blanket surveillance, drone warfare and all our heavy-handed military ventures. I say we should take these half-loaves, any time we can. But never be fooled — a few grudging concessions don’t mean the rulers of the universe have had an epiphany, and will henceforth treat us all with compassion, respect and fairness. For the serious, fundamental changes we need, for justice and basic human rights, we’ll have to yell and fight and push together from now on. It’s not like we have something better to do — so let’s get to work!
“What’s right and good doesn’t come naturally. You have to stand up and fight for it – as if the cause depends on you, because it does.” –Bill Moyers
The Power and Potential of DIY Democracy
Published on Thursday, May 22, 2014 by Common Dreams
by Blair Bobier
A seismic shift in the American political landscape has gone largely unnoticed. Yet, the implication of this political earthquake knows no bounds.
On Tuesday, voters in two Oregon counties—one of them rural and conservative—voted to ban GMO’s. In 2012, voters in five states legalized gay marriage and the recreational use of cannabis. What is so remarkable about these victories is not just the incredible, rapidly shifting attitude of the electorate, but the fact that these successes came from voter-led initiatives. In other words, these independent grassroots victories do not owe their success to any politician or political party.
In fact, for years, activists who have pushed for marriage equality and cannabis legalization have been operating at the fringe of the political establishment. Certainly, neither the Republicans nor the Democrats—the country’s dominant political forces—have embraced these two issues. Perhaps nothing else better demonstrates both the shortcomings of the U.S. “representative democracy” and the potential of DIY Direct Democracy.
“If the people lead, the people will follow. And that’s what’s important.”Our so-called representative democracy is neither representative nor democratic. It is a hoax, a paradox, a cruel joke. It’s an open secret that money buys elections; that Congress panders to their contributors and that popular support for issues generally fails to translate into political support inside of the Capitol. But now, the joke may be on our elected representatives.
Remember the old bumper-sticker “If the people lead, the leaders will follow”? Now it doesn’t really matter if the leaders follow. If the people lead, the people will follow. And that’s what’s important.
If such seemingly radical change as banning GMO’s, ending cannabis prohibition and ushering in an era of equality can be achieved at the ballot box, what else can be accomplished through citizen-led initiatives? The answer: just about anything. In fact, citizen initiatives have already produced publicly funded local elections and, in cities from Minneapolis to San Francisco, major democratic improvements in the way in which local officials are elected. The initiative process can be used for virtually anything that could be legislated—subject only to the limitations of your imagination and your state’s constitution.
The success of activists in these three areas demonstrates the power of an alignment of an unrecognized majority of voters. A majority of voters in jurisdictions from coast to coast have shown their support for issues that their elected representatives won’t touch with a 10 foot pole—or on which they’ve been slowing…“evolving.” The beauty of DIY Direct Democracy is that it is issue-based and transcends political parties, political affiliation or no affiliation at all.
Elected “representatives” won’t reflect the views of the public until we have serious political and electoral reform which addresses our winner-take-all elections, lack of public funding for political campaigns and the corporate domination of the election process. However, the success of the DIY ballot initiatives proves that the American People are more open-minded, future-focused and solution-oriented than their “democratically elected” representatives. Our government is out-of-touch and the methods we use to elect it are corrupt and mired in the past.
DIY Direct Democracy is the future of American democracy. And it’s here now.
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