On social democracy, that inexplicably unmentionable phrase that truly embodies the spirit of We, the People

Whenever I am in a conversation with non-political-junkies–at dinner, say–with people who start complaining about the government this and the state that, and people inevitably head into a discussion about why we are better off not letting the government or the state have so much power, I always chime in: HEY! You are forgetting something! The government is US. The state is US.

When the State-That-Is-Us has control, this is a good thing. Trouble is, that’s not what we’re seeing. We are not under the control of ourselves–of us–but rather, we’re under the control of the wealthy, namely corporations and their interests. That’s why our own money, our tax dollars, never seem to get spent the way we want–on excellent public education for all American children, affordable health care, clean air and water initiatives, programs to feed our hungry and provide shelter for our homeless, energy-efficient public transportation that would relieve us of our miserable hours-long commutes in bumper-to-bumper traffic, and so on–but instead get spent, one obscene trillion-pile after another, on endless wars, bailouts, subsidies for Big Oil and of course, Big Agribusiness, and money-pit “security” agencies that violate our Constitutional rights and treat law-abiding citizens as guilty until proven innocent. I’m sure you can think of more.

The government is us. And to my mind, the only way to even begin to make leadership behave that way is to completely change the way elections are funded and do away with all forms of campaign “donations” as well as halting altogether the corporate lobbying of sitting leaders.

Campaigns would be publicly-funded; candidates for public office would be given a strict limit as to what they could spend on a campaign.

Imagine what could be accomplished if, instead of spending months and years in “pre-election money-grubbing-and-vote-pandering mode”, a leader could actually lead. No more mudslinging attack ads (too expensive!) and no more ridiculous talking-point pageants masquerading as debates. Imagine candidates running for office solely because they are leaders answering a call to duty. Imagine them getting elected based solely on their leadership abilities–their knowledge, their talent, their record of doing good work on our behalf.

Imagine having leaders who are beholden to no-one but us, the we in We, the People.

It would not be impossible for the United States to implement a truly American-people-controlled system of governance–a social democracy–indeed, I would argue that social democracy is the closest thing there is to an actual embodiment of what the Founding Fathers intended for the country, and one only need read the wise and poignantly beautiful writings of Jefferson, Madison, Adams, et. al. to confirm this.

But given the range of theatrical talents, the vast and tentacular wealth, and the predators’ amorality that characterize the beasts we currently face, it is dispiritingly unlikely that we ever will.

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