I think we need to realize that the concentration of wealth we are now experiencing in the United States also confers a concentration of power that allows a small percentage of the population to effectively “rule”. The entire theory of the government the founding fathers set up was to prevent a concentration of power in the hands of one individual or group.
I feel the major problem with our government is that we have a “free market” for politicians that results in the “best government that money can buy”. Our political campaigns have turned into mere advertising where complex ideas are dumbed down to catchy slogans with high emotional content, but little in the way of actual ideas or specifics. We have a legislature made up of millionaires who must raise huge sums just to run for office. It would be foolish to assume they aren’t beholden to those who have the money they depend on.
Our system of government has endured for over 200 years, because, by and large, the will of the people has managed to be carried out and because it has made compromises that seem to suit most people. Most of us are mostly middle-of-the-road in our beliefs. Now our political system has become gridlocked, fossilized into two opposing camps who are unwilling to budge, and our legislative process is being held hostage to legislators whose number one goal is staying in power and pulling us to one side or the other.
The 21st Century will belong to those who understand the world is rapidly changing, and who have governments that are able to assist their citizens in adapting to meet those changes. History, if it shows anything to us, would seem to indicate that one needs private enterprise and effective government. (Think of the US between 1945 and 1980) It also shows us that countries with a high level of financial inequality don’t do too well. (South America would be a great example of this) It is no coincidence that the fortunes (in every sense of the word) of the middle class began to decline as big money took over the political system. The fact that financial inequality has sharply risen over the last 30 years is evidence our leaders have not been looking out after the interests of their constituents.
It’s time to end the sideshow spectacle of American politics. It’s NOT a panacea that will end all problems or solve all issues, but unless we return the reins of the government to those who represent most Americans instead of just those who have the money they need to get re-elected, we can look forward to a future of gridlock and government by crises.
You’re not restricting free speech if you give everyone the same opportunity to be heard. With this being the era of the internet, one person can get access to the entire world (or at least the portion that has internet access) by starting his or her own website. This is something that has previously not been possible and could usher in a new era of representative democracy.
So far, campaign finance reform hasn’t really gained traction. Obviously, it’s never going to be popular with whichever party happens to be “in power”, as those who have it owe allegiance to the system and people that put them there. We also have a supreme court that has conflated money with speech and granted corporations rights that should be reserved for citizens.
It would seem we will then need to come up with a voluntary system. We now have the ability for one person or group to gain access to the population of voters without vast financial resources. All it will take is for one person to step up to the plate and declare something to the effect of:
“I will not take campaign donations from any one person or organization in amounts greater than $500 and challenge my opponents to do the same.”
Yeah, I know, that’s a longshot, but I do think it’s a way “We The People” can take back our government. Technology has provided us with a way to take money out of our political system:
It is up to us to do it.