Wednesday, June 7, 2017

If Our Government is So Bad…..Why Not Change it?

By Jeffrey J. Weiss

If any form of government does not secure “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” then it is the duty of the people to abolish it -- Those instructions came from Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence.

In fact, it may be time for a Constitutional Convention or if nothing else, a dramatic citizen awakening to reboot this 228-year experiment.

The status quo, as long as the Supreme Court maintains the notion corporations are people and money is speech, means the power of the dollar will not yield.

It is inconceivable a population of 325 million has so few choices; everyone, it seems, is voting for the lesser of two evils.

The Republicans attack government, govern to cripple the public sector, suppress the vote, and then run against the dysfunction.

Certainly they should be amenable to reform or if nothing else, for the rank-and-file to break into factions.

The Democrats claim a wide umbrella, but offer few bold initiatives on issues like climate change or moving beyond our war economy.

Even Barack Obama buckled on single payer health care, arguing it was futile to fight the medical industrial complex; change was, therefore “politically impossible.”

Martin Gilens and Benjamin Page researched Congress and concluded the will of  the majority is secondary to wealthy donors; they argued we live in a plutocracy, or rule by wealth.

Gallup polls show approval of Congress is the same as having your wisdom teeth pulled.

This climate should be breed libertarians, greens, or anybody else who disdains our two parties.

Contrast this disenfranchisement with recent elections in Europe.

In March, eleven parties won parliamentary seats in the Netherlands -- a country of  16 million; this was because of proportional representation voting, a system most  parliaments enjoy.

In PR, a party receives seats in parliament based on the percentage of votes received.  For example if the libertarians earn five percent of the vote in a 100-seat chamber, they receive five seats.

This gives bargaining power for libertarians and provides choices  across the board.

Mark Rutte, the new Dutch Prime Minister, can only serve at the pleasure of the lower house; there is nothing like the gridlock we are accustomed to because a simple parliamentary procedure called a “vote of no confidence” can topple a government and call new elections.

This makes the system fluid; the country does not waste time with lame ducks or even countdown faraway election dates.

These elections are in a few months, not enough time to burn billions of dollars like our last presidential election.

Another feature is that a party can replace its own Prime Minister like in the United Kingdom when David Cameron stepped aside for Theresa May.

In our world, one and two-party systems are almost defunct; we are more like authoritarian regimes than other republics in that respect.

After the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln said government of the people could not perish; today Jimmy Carter cautions we navigate “a system that is a little more than legalized bribery.”

We deserve more than two choices and to live in a republic where every vote counts.

Jeffrey J. Weiss teaches in the Social Sciences at Des Moines Area Community College and peace education director for the Catholic Peace Ministry.

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