Sunday, June 7, 2015

The Irony of Democracy

One of the great ironies of contemporary American life is that the greatest democracy the world has ever known (that would be us, the United States of America) and the land that spends half of its annual tax receipts exporting democracy around the world, is not a democracy itself.  A democracy is a nation-state where the people rule.  All we are is a nation-state where the people VOTE, but the people do not rule.  You don’t need me telling you this, you know it.

This sorry state of affairs is the single reason why I wrote my book and why I write my blog, that we are not a democratic land where the people rule and what we must do to become a true democracy once again (well, that and I like to write and I like seeing my ideas and words in print).

What ARE we then, if not a democracy?  Lawrence Lessig thinks we are Lesterland, a nation-state where the Lesters rule.  Greg Palast thinks we are "The Best Democracy Money Can Buy."  Maybe we are an oligarchy, where a few rule the nation-state.  Or a corporatocracy, where corporations rule.  Or a plutocracy, where the rich rule.  Or a kleptocracy, where the thieves rule.  Or fascism where big businesses have taken the reins of democratic power for their own purposes.  All these apply, all except democracy, because the people clearly do NOT rule.

Let me add a new name to the mix: dollarocracy, a nation-state where money rules.  Not your money, not everyone’s money, but big enough money to make a dent: a few very wealthy families and individuals, and the Fortune 500 list of big enough corporations to make a serious dent.  In a true democracy, it is “one person one vote.”  In a dollarocracy, it is “one dollar one vote.”  Actually, it is more like “one million dollars, one vote,” you can play if you can pay.

One of the biggest challenges faced by this movement (to restore our rightful democracy) is keeping a critical mass of people interested for a long enough time to pass a Constitutional amendment that ends corporate personhood and stops protecting money as speech.  That may be a very long time, maybe 5 years, maybe ten years.

One of the problems is naming our movement, as it has no name that participants have agreed upon.  Some call it “reversing Citizens United,” the Supreme Court case that reaffirmed corporations’ rights to have rights.  Some call it unravelling “Corporate Personhood.”  Some call it passing a 28th amendment to the Constitution.  Some call the challenge “Corruption in Government.”  Some of these names are not expressive enough, others are not memorable enough.  I’d like to put out there for your consideration, the following: Down with the Dollarocracy, Damn the Dollarocracy, Doom the Dollarocracy, Destroy the Dollarocracy.  I want something memorable, and sexy, and terrifying. 

Suggestions welcome.  Let’s make our movement memorable and sexy and terrifying!

Addendum: Sunday, 10/04/2015
I wondered aloud what to call our "movement."  I wonder no longer.  It should be called "The Democracy Movement."