Have We Ever Had a Democracy?

Since the housing crash, and the Great Recession it triggered, large numbers of people have finally awoken

From the stupor of their preprogrammed lives to realize that something is wrong. Then came the 2016 primaries and presidential election, when many realized that the voice they thought they had in our elections doesn’t exist. The most we, as the electorate, were able to do was to thwart the establishment’s plan to install Hillary Clinton… for now.

She might perhaps still rise again, like an undead threat in a Halloween movie, if the current recount efforts bear fruit — a two-sided sword for those of us who want progress. On one hand, we want to punish the DNC for ramming Hillary down our throats, when the majority of Americans clearly wanted Bernie Sanders as the “Democratic” nominee and president. On the other hand, we could really use the precedent of a successfully-exposed election theft, since serious election theft has been going on for such a long time now, covered up by the corporate media, and flying beneath the radar of so many of us.

No matter how this goes, our long-held feeling that our political “representatives” work only for their corporate and robber billionaire paymasters has not only been confirmed by the remove-all-doubt Princeton study, but also by the dirty 2016 “Democratic” primaries, where election theft was blatantly obvious to many of us.

Logically, this then raises the question: is our democracy being stolen? Or, worse: has it already been stolen? Or… dare I ask the really big question: did we ever have a democracy?

What if I were to tell you the answer is no?

Would you bear with me and hear me out?

A warning: to look into this, you may have some hesitation to overcome. Nothing is worse than being born into hell, except perhaps finding out about it. Can you accept the idea that most of us (including probably you) were born into a rigged society whose lauded democracy was nothing more than a sham and that the odds have always been stacked against you, before you were even born?

To answer the big question, we need to come to terms with what the word “democracy” really means to us.

How about this: democracy = having a say in our affairs? Rather than abstract definitions about the people governing, isn’t it ultimately this sense – the sense that we have a say in our affairs – which the word democracy means to us? Isn’t this why we hold democracy so dear? Doesn’t this shimmer of light in the dark, the sense that we may change things, calm us down and give us hope when our world seems rigged, broken, or unlivable?

I would like to examine this notion from three angles: judicial, economic, and political; since these three major battlefields of our lives, unlike many others, are entirely man-made.

1.The Justice System:

When it comes to our justice system, I have long bemoaned that it only gives “justice” to those who can afford it. People with loads of money can buy expensive lawyers and achieve practically anything. They can even afford bogus lawsuits with which to bankrupt or otherwise ruin their targeted defendants. People without much money can rarely afford a trial, bogus or otherwise, let alone proper representation. It’s one of our construction sites where little has been achieved since our first American Revolution. It’s one of the reasons we might need a second revolution.

2.Economy:

An economy which works primarily for 1% of the population, satisfyingly well for a few percent more, decreasingly well for a rapidly shrinking middle class, and hardly at all for the bottom 50%, doesn’t really smell of something a democracy would install, does it? Furthermore, one very fundamental aspect to keep in mind, one which we often overlook in our many daily struggles, is that most of our places of work have always been undemocratic! They are privately owned by a few rich people who can lord it over us much as the feudal lords of times past. From this place of huge diverted profits came the plutocratic takeover of our political system through both illegal and legalized bribing of our politicians. Therefore, we not only need to clean up our politics, but also our concept of business ownership and governance. Why should only CEOs get company shares and make all the decisions themselves? If workers held a commandingly large share of their companies (just like they do most of the work) would they vote to move production to places like China or replace themselves with machines, only to then turn themselves out on the street and leave all the future profits to a single owner or a group of shareholders in which they are not included? I think this thought is worth mulling over. Incidentally, this is a “socialist” thought; so we may very well suspect that the demonization of all things “socialist” with which most of us have been brought up is an underhanded tactic of our Big Money lords to keep us from looking at ideas that might solve our problems. Maybe we should take a fresh look at socialist proposals.

3.Politics:

As far as politics, a.k.a. our public sphere, for over thirty years our supposed political “representatives” haven’t been representing us, but rather the billionaire class, as they are being handled by an ever-growing army of registered business lobbyists, now 42,000 strong (furthermore supported by several times this number in unregistered aides) — completely dwarfing our handful of “representatives.” And this in a system where we rarely get to directly vote on any issue, anyway, but merely get to pick a bunch of people to represent us for the next two or four years, hoping they will always know what we want and fight for our needs and wishes. In reality, nowadays, the super rich decide who can run for office by means of campaign financing and, once their picks are in office, make sure they do their bidding by having their lobbyists continue to bribe them. Long ago, some elected officials used to actually do work for us some of the time, so that back then we had something like the beginnings of a democracy in the political arena; however, as I have pointed out, this democratic seedling in our public sphere has been thoroughly taken over by the super rich and their army of lobbyists. Before our fledgling democracy in the public sphere was co-opted by the lords of the democracy-free business world, we never even got around to try more advanced democratic mechanisms, such as citizen votes on all popular issues, leaving only the boringly-mundane day-to-day governing and less critical law bills for our chosen representatives to sort out.

To summarize, rich people rule in our judicial, economic, and political spheres. Only our political sphere once had a brief germination of democracy before our very undemocratic economic sphere put an end to it. How is democracy to succeed when it is only implemented among the least powerful in society while the most powerful keep all their power? And, yet, if we who hold little personal power unite, our sheer numbers can overpower the plutocrats. Next time, we should disarm them, though.

So, to answer the big question of this article, our bid for a democracy was squelched before it ever really got off the ground. We have never had a democracy, only the illusion or rapidly-ended beginnings thereof. I think it is time we start working towards real democracy.

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