In the midst of a global pandemic, of which our country leads the death toll, which has devastated the hollow American economy and pushed millions of Americans to the brink of homelessness, Congress has still taken no action to extend the public benefits allocated in the CARES package. After taking care of the corporate masterclass that lines their pockets with legalized bribes in the form of campaign contributions, Congress has elected to take cruel inaction, twiddling their thumbs as food bank lines stretch on for miles.
If it is truly the case that evil Republican henchmen in the Senate like Lindsey Graham and Mitch McConnell are the sole reason we aren’t seeing landmark legislation passed, why hasn’t the House passed a bill that rises to the occasion? A Democratic House of Representatives could easily choose to pass a bill including rent cancellation, UBI, and all of the other expanded social programs the working class desperately needs if they are ever going to truly recover from this massively devastating economic meltdown. Nancy Pelosi could go on TV every night pointing to this historic bill passed in Congress that would alleviate the suffering of the masses, hammering the Republicans senselessly until they were forced to relent or watch their chance at reelection crumble. They could do that, but they aren’t. Why?
No time was spared approving the likely single greatest upward transfer of wealth in US history, when Congress harmoniously agreed to let Wall Street pillage the Federal Reserve, creating trillions of dollars out of thin air to spuriously stabilize the stock market with an influx in fictitious capital. Once the patsies in power had done the bidding of their master class, they then pretended that everything would be fine, not acknowledging the ticking time bomb they’d set for the unemployment benefits, which were the last remaining lifeline for millions of once working Americans now totally displaced after the shutdowns.
Now, nearly 2 weeks after the last bolstered unemployment checks have been cashed, those same stooges of the powerful stand before the hungry and scared Americans telling them their hands are tied, and that they will not act as they are about to let them lose their homes in a pandemic, just like they let them lose their jobs. They will continue to assure each and every one of their constituents that their hands are tied, that the polarization in Washington is too intense to pass such a piece of legislation.
President Trump’s flimsy executive orders further underscore the point that our representative government no longer represents us, so much so they are subject to the foolish whims of the executive branch. This arrantly antidemocratic behavior brings light to the extreme hollowness of our “democracy.” How can our society be considered a representative democracy, when by and large, Congress is out of step with Americans on nearly every major issue?
How much more clear does the public have to be that we are uninterested in pumping trillions of our tax dollars into a war that has taken the lives of more than 200,000 innocent men, women, and children overseas? Every successful presidential campaign since George W. Bush has paid tremendous lip service to bringing home our troops, But still, Congress continues to approve the colossal, always growing military budget, in spite of their assurance that Trump is the single greatest threat to the world order.
Or how about the war on drugs? More than two-thirds of the country support the legalization of cannabis, and yet this arcane, racist law, is still responsible for hundreds of thousands of arrests, wasting tax dollars that would be better served strengthening our communities, and more importantly destroy young lives while allowing megacorporations like Phillip Morris to buy up market share before they inevitably remove the federal schedule 1 classification of cannabis.
We are trapped in a system that has never been truly by and for the people, and we must demand a change. The justification for this system fed to us in the public school system is that our founding fathers, in their tremendous wisdom, understood that the working people of this country couldn’t be bothered to develop an opinion on the matters of governance directly, and instead needed a proxy to make the decisions for them in Washington. While this logic was dubious at the time, perhaps it held more weight when the information was far less freely disseminated. In the age of the internet information, it sounds like a farce, it’s time for the people to truly have the power to represent themselves directly.
But how would direct democracy come to be? How would it be run, and more importantly, who would decide what the people would vote on, as opposed to our representatives? Surely it won’t happen overnight. A humble introduction could come in the form of a survey portion of the census, where public opinion can be gauged accurately on issues like the ones outlined above. In instances where the results come back dramatically out of step with the current law, such as the federal prohibition of cannabis, a law which according to the PEW research center more than 2 thirds of the country opposes, a ballot measure could be introduced. Then we would simply allow the public to vote on the matter, in exactly the same way that people would participate in a direct ballot initiative at the state and local level. If the votes were counted and a majority of the people supported a new law or opposed an existing one, the change would be enacted.
Allowing the public to do a once-every-decade course correction will serve as an extremely modest introduction to direct democracy. The proposal would in no way jeopardize the safety of our election, cause an undue intellectual burden on our population, infringe on the sanctity of our electoral system, or any of the other absurd criticisms that would be lobbed by the elite to dissuade people from demanding the right to truly influence the government, in a meaningful, direct way.
While these once-in-a-decade ballot initiatives would not address all the urgent issues that need to be addressed, they would serve as a constant reminder to our representatives in our government that the people have the power in our government, and allowing them to wield it would underscore the lack of action taken by our representatives, when we desperately needed them to respond. Now that information is now freer than ever before, so should our democracy.