There seems to be a growing sentiment that we no longer live in a country with a representative government. This view point which I see as passing the buck and a bit exaggerated, has gained credibility throughout the ranks of occupy wall street among other places.
Do I think we are in a lot of trouble and need to make some course corrections before we collapse? Yes.
Do I think that the politicians in Washington do not represent our best interests? Sure.
Do I think that we now live in a fake democracy where the people have lost their power? Absolutely not.
We still have freedom to make up our own mind, cast our one vote per person, and elect officials into the government. And we do. Frequently. We are just terrible at it.
The problem is that we elect the official that had the best marketing campaign. Commercials continually drum us with reasons why a particular candidate is the equivalent of Satan and why another is the solution we have been waiting for. They use misleading information and manipulation, sure. But the real success lies in their ability to persuade people to support real policies that the politician will champion as a result of financial backing.
So we the people vote for a candidate based on the fact that we believe what they are going to do is good for us. They do what they said they would do. And its not good for us. They still represented what we voted for.
Lets say that again: They represent what we voted for.
Simply because someone else persuaded the majority of us to do it, doesn't take away from that fact.
So while you point your fingers at wall street executives and politicians because you are disappointed in the job they are doing, remember that while you have every right to do that (and I certainly agree with you), we the people have complete control over the hiring process. Propaganda has dictated what we the people think, but we always held the power to vote how we think.
The issue here is the fact that it is so damn easy to co-op what the public thinks. And the public is so unwilling to drop their emotion, swallow their pride, and admit that they were taken for a ride. Feel free to fire the politicians and be critical of the corporations that lobby for their own interests, but never forget that ultimately the power they have is a direct result of we the people handing it over with a smile on our face.
What's the answer?
Well there is short term and long term. There is how we have fixed things in the past and how we should truly become better as a people.
The short term answer is to create rules that prohibit corporations to donate huge sums of money to politicians and to prohibit marketing of any kind to be done on behalf of candidates or parties. To restrict, basically, any information about the election to debates and strict news reporting.
The perfect response to creating a pendulum swing in the other direction… which will lead to another crisis down the road.
The problem with that is once you have legal outlines that draws a line in the sand like that, no matter what your intentions are, you create a situation that can be abused down the line. Control of information is simply a slippery slope we don't want to travel down.
The fact of the matter is the information handed out in this country by the major media players is already controlled by an alarmingly small group of people. If we decide to take that power away and hand it to the government (a liberal solution replacing a conservative one) I would be more in favor of it than the current situation, but we still have a problem. We still have a situation where the information can be compromised by those in power. "For the good of the people". Hello ministry of truth. Great today, bad tomorrow when folks figure out how to use it.
So where does that leave us? Well throughout history you see how power eventually corrupts one side or the other and the propaganda machine allows an imbalance of power that implodes and leads to destruction and rebirth. My question for the American people is, aren't we ready to move past that? Isn't it time to take the next step?
People have stood up and complained that there are issues we need to fix, an imbalance in the system, and an inappropriate order of priorities for our elected representatives. If we succeed and the system is balanced again, we fix the problem essentially, but still leave us vulnerable.
And the door has already been opened.
Information has never been so abundant and accessible as it is now. And there are plenty of folks cashing in big time. Winning today does not stop the problem from arising very quickly once again.
What we need is a cultural enlightenment. We need to keep the disappointment in our representatives but drop the self-entitlement. We need to be held accountable. We need to realize as a society that while we are not expected to know the details of the decisions being made, we are expected to look at what we are told with a critical eye.
Passing along an email with no citations or peer reviewed facts should be looked upon as rude and insulting.
A commercial with more romantic language than facts should be viewed as condescending.
And peer reviewed information by experts in their fields should be the first and most reviewed information the public should use as testimony for what is good for this country. And by that I don't mean the CEO of a company, or that one economist in Tennessee with a radical belief. I mean the collective opinion of professions specific to the topic in question. Economists, anthropologists, medical doctors and researchers, etc participating in a peer reviewed process.
We don't need to know the answers, we just need to stop believing every answer presented to us because emotionally we are attached to the commercial by a company that has no face and we know nothing about.
Because in a work setting, you can get mad at your employee for screwing up, but if you are their manager and gave them the power to make that mistake, then ultimately your boss will hold you responsible. We the people are mad at those we hired. We are responsible for the hiring. Its okay to make mistakes, but lets learn from them and demand more of those who wish to represent us. Lets demand policies that are in congruence with opinions from experts. Lets ignore and discredit propaganda and marketing that does not have a transparent source nor a transparent and legitimate citation to back their facts.
Lets demand a discussion in Washington that is a legitimate discussion on how to govern this country and not just theater to cover up the true agendas.
There are those who think the people complaining are self-entitled jerks looking for handouts. Do I think my generation and those coming after me have been raised on the idea that mediocrity should be rewarded? Absolutely. But that doesn't mean that the problem is not very real - it just means we are less likely to realize that we are going to need to do some work to change too.