By Matthew Van Grinsven
I would like to thank Bernie Sanders for initiating this political revolution. I agree with most of his ideas, but his strategy is ultimately flawed. He is attempting to reform the Democratic Party instead of getting our democracy back.
I don’t have enough time to engage why we are not a democracy now but I can quickly share a couple illustrations that display this; the approval rating of congress according to Gallup and the mainstream parties’ presidential nominee’s net favorability ratings. When a democracy is supposed to be government by and for the people why would we so greatly disapprove of our representatives?
So, where do we go from here? The four keys to taking back our democracy are:
1. Reverse the Citizens United decision by constitutional amendment. Corporations are not people and money does not equal speech. Money cannot drive our policy nor sway our politicians any longer.
2. We must always vote and vote our conscience. We cannot ever sit out an election and we must never vote based on fear.
3. Break up big media. Six corporations own 90% of the United States’ media. They wield an enormous amount of influence in our media saturated world. We likely are in the midst of a media oligopoly. And on the horizon we have legislation further deregulating print and television media. We must reduce the percentage of markets that large corporate media conglomerates may own local outlets in. The FCC’s regulation of media ownership is for the public good and to make sure we don’t end up with a single new station and a single paper. In this scope six is not much better than a monopoly
The leaks of the past week have proven how much collusion exists. From a major online source, Politico, allowing the Democratic National Committee toedit stories to e-mails being exchanged by the DNC and NBC. (At this point I suggest they merge and just call themselves MSDNC.)
4. Install ranked choice/instant runoff system at the polls. The winner-take-all, two-party system needs to be decimated. There is a common belief that we must change the Democrat party from within electing more progressives at local levels and slowly moving up the ranks. This is an idea set forth BY the Democrat establishment. Attempting to change one of the two mainstream parties is work that will take a generation. And the establishment counts on people not staying focused long enough or caring for that long. And they are right. The establishment is more likely to change you, than you change the establishment. I’ve seen it happen time and time again.
Listen – EVEN IF we had two party system with everybody thinking at least one of the two parties was great, we would still be in this mess. The inherent problem with a two party system is that we are stuck having ONLY two choices. Most of us think one of the two mainstream parties is at least a bit better than the other so we feel a duty to whomever our party nominates. When the party games the primary we don’t have a meaningful choice. No other viable choices exist. And with a system dominated by only two entities – corporations only have two targets to influence and dominate. Now if we were in a system where we thought the party we liked had been corrupted, we could all say, “Hey Debbie Wasserman Shultz GET BENT!” and go to a different party. However, because we have a winner-take-all, two party system, when we don’t like what “our” party is doing we have the choice to not vote or vote for another party’s candidate, say Green, Libertarian, America Delta, Constitutional, Prohibition, Nutrition, or America’s Party – and yes, those are all parties with candidates for president of the United States – and if we do that we are told that you’re supporting the mainstream party we don’t like a.k.a. the eviler of two evils. UGH! Having the two party winner take all system changes the power dynamic of the party to member relationship to a system where the power resides with the party, instead of it coming from the people.
There is NO choice to leave in the mainstream party’s collective mind…..being all other choices have been rendered irrelevant. And how about that fear based voting? Instead of voting FOR people and policies we support we are “forced” to always vote AGAINST a candidate or for the lesser of two evils. Who is sick of doing that too much in their lives? If you don’t like it, you want ranked choice /instant runoff voting.
This is the problem with Bernie Sanders’ most recent strategic system. He’s told people to join the party. He’s told people to vote for Hillary Clinton, even though the primary was rigged against him. He’s told people to run for office…..and they have, as Democrats. This has done nothing but REINFORCE the two party system. It has BOLSTERED the leverage of the Democratic Party establishment. Who says that this is the best way to change our political climate? Again, it has been initiated by the establishment. I say, let’s start fixing our political system immediately and get to the representative democracy we deserve.
Like the lands and grooves on a key, we will not take back our democracy in the United States until all four of these actions occur. There is no magic bullet to singlehandedly serve our democracy on a platter to us. In order to unlock democracy we must turn these four keys.