Threats to democracy

You Can’t Have a Functioning Democracy Without High Quality Infrastructure By The Daily Take Team, The Thom Hartmann Program, April 16, 2015

American democracy is doomed by Matthew Yglesias, VOX.com, March 2, 2015

America’s Democracy is No More; Can We Ever Restore it? By Michael Payne, NationofChange, April 19, 2015  Democracy is a government governed by the people and many citizens believe this is still how the United States is running. But in today’s society, unfortunately, we are living in a country controlled by the wealthy…Without any doubt the only force that can restore this democracy is the massive power of the people; nothing else will do it. So we the American people have a choice. We must either find a way to ignite that power or we will guarantee that we and our children and those who follow will live their entire lives in this oligarchy that now rules America.

Can American Democracy Survive Against Rising Political Corruption and Privatization? America is becoming more like the illiberal pseudo-democracies and kleptocracies.By Robert Kuttner / The American Prospect March 13, 2015

The Increasing Concentration of Capital Precludes Democracy ‚By Tariq Ali, — Book Excerpt The Extreme Centre: A Warning, Verso Books, Truth-out.org, March 19, 2015: 

Downsize Democracy For 40 Years, Here’s What You Get By Murray Dobbin / The Tyee, posted on Alternet.org, January 26, 2015 New signs civilization is veering towards collapse.… The Trilateral Commission (TLC) could be said to be the birthplace of neoliberalism, a political theory that suggests progress depends upon “liberating individual entrepreneurial freedoms and skills within an institutional framework characterized by strong private property rights, free markets and free trade.” Alarmed by the spread of the liberal state and its economic and social interventions, the The Trilateral Commission (TLC)  was founded to reverse the welfare state and re-establish capital to its “rightful” place at the pinnacle of economic and political power. (It still exists but has been supplanted to some extent by the World Economic Forum.) The TLC book concluded, in the words of its American co-author Samuel Huntington, that the industrial countries suffered from “an excess of democracy.” He wrote “the effective operation of a democratic political system usually requires some measure of apathy… on the part of some individuals and groups.” He bemoaned the fact that “Marginal groups, as in the case of blacks, are now becoming full participants in the political system.” The TLC was just one of a growing number of institutions — forums, think-tanks, academic clusters, major media outlets — focussed on the same theme: that expectations of what government could provide had risen to a level that was now threatening the proper functioning of capitalist democracies…Walker told a group of worried corporate CEOs from British Columbia that “if you want to change society you have to change the ideological fabric of society.” In short, you had to launch a culture war against the activist state. It would be a war against democratic “excess.”…Fast forward 40 years and any new book with the title The Crisis of Democracy is likely to be chronicling the result of four decades of systematic assaults on the liberal/social democratic state. Indeed in contrast to Huntington’s “excess of democracy” complaint, the phrase “democratic deficit” has now been used by scores of writers and commentators…But it is the consequences of this decline and erosion of democracy that should be the most important focus of critics and citizens alike. The exceptionally successful four decades campaign to change the “ideological fabric” of society has put western civilization on a track to irreversible collapse according to a major study sponsored by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. The study focused on population, climate, water, agriculture and energy as the interrelated factors that determine the collapse or survival of civilizations going back 5000 years. According to a Guardian report on the study, these factors can coalesce and lead to civilization’s collapse if they create two critical social features: “the stretching of resources due to the strain placed on the ecological carrying capacity… and… the economic stratification of society into Elites [rich] and Masses (or ‘Commoners’) [poor].”…advanced, sophisticated, complex and creative civilizations can be both fragile and impermanent.”…the signs are so dramatically obvious… if you monitor the political debate in this country the two most important trends in our society and the world are virtually never mentioned except rhetorically. There are no serious policy prescriptions. Mass denial reigns. Or, as Freud stated, we are “knowing without knowing.” Elites won’t save us. Theoretically, of course, neoliberalism says the state should not intervene in the efficient functioning of the market — resulting in prosperity for everyone. But the theory, according to neoliberalism authority David Harvey, was simply hijacked by the elites to fleece the system — bailing out the financial sector with trillions of taxpayers’ dollars and failing to re-regulate, while gutting labour and environmental regulation. Government actions reveal neoliberalism as “more of a practical attempt to restore elite class power than as a theoretical project driven by the works of [Friedrich von] Hayek or Friedman.”…

How Soaring Inequality May Lead the World Down the Path of Fascism By Janet AllonAlterNet , January 2, 2015

American Politicians Are a Bigger Threat to Democracy Than ISIS By Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, TIME, November 5, 2014 — The lying campaign ads, shady voter ID laws and sanctioned dishonesty should be illegal—and those complicit should be arrested…The election season highlights not our dedicated patriots vying to improve the country, but the greedy villains who are subtly but devastatingly destroying the democratic process like a creeping and relentless rust…This is the democratic ideal we so love: an informed population weighs the positions of those running for political office, then selects, through majority, the person they think will best represent them in government. It’s so beautiful in its simplicity and sincerity that it’s no wonder those hungry for freedom worldwide would want to embrace it. But here in America that ideal is facing the same fate as an extra in The Walking Dead who says, “I’m going to go on night …The two most egregious examples of this betrayal are in misleading political ads and in partisan lawmaking that is meant to obstruct fair voting practices…The recent push by the GOP in many states to force a form of voter ID as well as reduce voting hours has rightfully been described by many as a modern version of the poll tax, which was declared unconstitutional in 1966. .. Poll analyst Nate Silver determined that ID laws could reduce voter turnout by 2.4 percent, a margin that might sway close races toward Republicans. U.S. Circuit Judge Richard Posner, who was appointed by Ronald Reagan, said that such ID laws exist only to “discourage voting by persons likely to vote against the party responsible for imposing the burdens.”… This deliberate act to sabotage the democratic election process is worse than anything ISIS could do and yet we not only permit it, we vote people who support it into positions of power…Ironically, much of the battle over the Second Amendment right to bear arms is the fear that someone will take over the country, remove our freedoms, and we will not be able to fight back. But that’s what’s happening now…We need to do two things to stabilize the listing ship of democracy… laws deliberately restricting voters from voting. We have to join together on principle and vote out such sinister people, even if these voting restrictions benefit your party. Because this isn’t about giving your party more power, it’s about having a party that supports the democratic ideals of the Constitution…Win because you’re right, not because you’re the better liar… we should be enacting more such laws and enforcing them more diligently. These laws should include punishments that range from assessing huge fines capable of crippling a campaign to prison. Do those punishments really seem too steep for someone destroying the democratic process? Some may say my outrage shows political naiveté or hyperbole. But I don’t think it’s possible for a black man who has lived in America for 67 years to be politically naïve. Instead, of spouting grimly sophisticated cynicism of pundits, I still believe that the inherent goodness of the process can defeat the greed of the politically ambitious and ethically vacuous…

Who rules America? By Allan J. Lichtman, The Hill, August 12, 2014 A shattering new study by two political science professors has found that ordinary Americans have virtually no impact whatsoever on the making of national policy in our country. The analysts found that rich individuals and business-controlled interest groups largely shape policy outcomes in the United States. This study should be a loud wake-up call to the vast majority of Americans who are bypassed by their government. To reclaim the promise of American democracy, ordinary citizens must act positively to change the relationship between the people and our government…The study also debunks the notion that the policy preferences of business and the rich reflect the views of common citizens. They found to the contrary that such preferences often sharply diverge and when they do, the economic elites and business interests almost always win and the ordinary Americans lose…Ultimately, Gilens and Page conclude from their work, “economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence.” Rich individuals and business interests have the capacity to hire the lobbyists that shadow legislators in Washington and to fill the campaign coffers of political candidates. Ordinary citizens are themselves partly to blame, however, because they do not choose to vote…Although average Americans cannot match the economic power of the rich, large numbers of modest contributions can still finance PACs and super-PACs that advance our common interests. If only they vote and organize, ordinary Americans can reclaim American democracy and challenge the politicians who still echo the view of old Vanderbilt that the public should be damned.

Republicans’ Insane Political Strategy: Ruining Our Country Hurts the Democratic Party By Thom Hartmann, AlterNet, May 13, 2014  …For six years now, Republicans have been hard at work damaging America and the American people… they know, consistent with the Republican Chaos Strategy, that most Americans, when they go to the polls, won’t realize that it was exclusively the Republicans who were responsible for this. They only know there’s a Democrat in the White House, and so they think that the Democrats must have something to do with it. The Republican Chaos Strategy is brilliant, and will continue to work as long as they can keep the American people ignorant of who controls which branches of Congress and how Republicans manipulate the filibuster in the Senate. The Republicans frankly make no secret of it: Newt Gingrich, who was there, bragged about it… The only way to stop the Republican Chaos Strategy is to educate the American people as to how the Republicans, for the majority of the Obama presidency, have been able to systematically and intentionally damage our economy and our nation for purely political purposes. This should be the single-minded focus of the Democratic Party between now and November.

US Is an Oligarchy Not a Democracy, says Scientific Study by Eric Zuesse, Common Dreams,  April 14, 2014

Concentrated Wealth and Democracy Are Incompatible by MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT, February 4, 2014

On the Sabotage of Democracy by Bill Moyers, Moyers & Co., October 4, 2013

Is American democracy headed to extinction? By Stein Ringen, March 28, 2014

Mitch McConnell: We Must Rewrite The Constitution Because ‘Elections’ Haven’t ‘Worked By Ian Millhiser,  ThinkProgress.org, July 13, 2011

Our Democracy Is at Stake  by THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN, New York Times, October 1, 2013 – This time is different. What is at stake in this government shutdown forced by a radical Tea Party minority is nothing less than the principle upon which our democracy is based: majority rule. President Obama must not give in to this hostage taking — not just because Obamacare is at stake, but because the future of how we govern ourselves is at stake.…structural changes in money, media and redistricting…are superempowering small political movements to act in extreme ways without consequences and thereby stymie majority rule. If democracy means anything, it means that, if you are outvoted, you accept the results and prepare for the next election. Republicans are refusing to do that. It shows contempt for the democratic process. President Obama is not defending health care. He’s defending the health of our democracy. Every American who cherishes that should stand with him.

Democracy: government by the people; the common people of a community, as distinguished from any privileged class …What’s wrong with this picture? On every key issue of public concern…the government in this supposed democracy has gone against the wishes of the majority of the public. Clearly, whatever it is, this is no democracy we are living in today… A Profound and Jarring Disconnect by Dave Lindorff, Common Dreams, January 5, 2011

The U.S. Behaves Nothing Like a Democracy, But You’ll Never Hear About It in Our ‘Free Press’ By Noam Chomsky, AlterNet August 15, 2013

Political dysfunction spells trouble for democracies By E.J. Dionne Jr. , Washington Post, May 19, 2013 ……We should consider whether democracy itself is in danger of being discredited. Politicians might usefully disentangle themselves from their day-to-day power struggles long enough to take seriously their responsibility to a noble idea and the systems that undergird it[there are] two streams of discontent the world’s democracies face. One is material. The other might be called spiritual… politicians might contemplate their obligations to stewardship of the democratic ideal…

10 Ways Our Democracy Is Crumbling Around Us By Les Leopold, AlterNet, April 5, 2012  - Our democracy is in grave danger. In fact, it may already be fatally wounded as a financial oligopoly increasingly dominates American politics and the economy…here are 10 reasons to worry.
1. Money and Politics
Our democracy is supposedly rooted in the idea of one person, one vote. But the introduction of big money into politics distorts, and perhaps, destroys that ideal.…all candidates, regardless of party, spend most of their time begging for money, not legislating. You can’t get elected without kissing the oligarchs’ rings.
2. Voter Disenfranchisement
3. Our Skewed Distribution of Income — Ratio of CEO Compensation To Average Employee Compensation in 2000 — Japan 10:1…Britain 25:1…U.S.…365:1
4. Tax Breaks for the Super-rich
5. Wall Street Bailouts
6. Deficit Hysteria
7. Crumbling Social and Physical Infrastructure
8. The Failure to Create Jobs
9. The Revolving Door
10. Worshiping the Market Gods

 

 

Democracy in America Is a Series of Narrow Escapes, and We May Be Running Out of Luck by Bill Moyers, CommonDreams.org, May 17, 2008  - …The reigning presumption about the American experience…is grounded in the idea of progress, the conviction that the present is “better” than the past and the future will bring even more improvement. For all of its shortcomings, we keep telling ourselves, “The system works.” Now all bets are off. We have fallen under the spell of money, faction, and fear, and the great American experience in creating a different future together has been subjugated to individual cunning in the pursuit of wealth and power –and to the claims of empire, with its ravenous demands and stuporous distractions.
…there is a class war and ordinary people are losing it…The conclusion that we are in trouble is unavoidable…statistics that show real wages lagging behind prices, the compensation of corporate barons soaring to heights unequaled anywhere among industrialized democracies…extremes of wealth and poverty cannot be reconciled with a genuinely democratic politics. When the state becomes the guardian of power and privilege to the neglect of justice for the people as a whole, it mocks the very concept of government as proclaimed in the preamble to our Constitution…Our democracy has prospered most when it was firmly anchored in the idea that “We the People” — not just a favored few — would identify and remedy common distempers and dilemmas and win the gamble our forebears undertook when they espoused the radical idea that people could govern themselves wisely.

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