Tuesday, March 6, 2018

America is Not a Democracy, It’s a Republic

All this whining about America losing its democracy is entirely wrong-headed. The income-gap is high on the list, gun-control reads large and job losses connected to free-trade agreements are all major targets.

These are not targets without merit, but the cause is not a loss of democracy although they may well be democratic issues. Confusing Democracy with Republic clouds the issue and makes logical discussion difficult.

All of the above complaints are Republican issues (and by that I don’t mean the Republican Party).

The United States was conceived (and remains) a Republic. When Benjamin Franklin was asked by a lady upon leaving the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, “What kind of government have you given us, Mr. Franklin?” his answer was, “A Republic, madam, if you can keep it.”

If you can keep it were wise words by perhaps the wisest of our Founding Fathers. We as a nation struggled with that through slavery, presidential assassinations, wars and civil strife of the most difficult kind. And we struggle again at the moment. But we sustain.

A Constitutional Republic means we are governed by those we vote for and not by the ballot itself. Our founders recognized that the general population (quite correctly) was too ignorant, uninformed and politically biased to govern itself. It still is, no matter Facebook, Google and Twitter.

And so here we are. Surely not you and me, but all those ignorant others out there, who fail to have sense enough to share our view.

So how did those who govern become so out of touch with the reality of the nation’s yearnings? Indeed what are those yearnings?

Take a nice, crisp yellow legal pad and jot down your personal yearnings. Probably they are not so much liberal or conservative as they are widely held. 

We yearn for a chance for ourselves and our children to advance; for no one to be starving or homeless on the street; a retreat from the endlessness of wars; public services that work reasonably well, the job we hold doesn’t go down the tubes and a sense that the values that made us a great nation will remain in place. In other words, the common yearning is for something to do, something to love and something to hope for. 

All those somethings have apparently gone awry and we now find ourselves at one another’s throats, confused and angry. Collectively, we are a frightened nation and fear in any nation leads either to collapse or fascism.
That’s a political problem for sure, but it’s not a failure of democracy, It’s a failure of our Republic; those who represent us. Remember Franklin? “A Republic, madam, if you can keep it.”

Well, if we are to keep it we must take it back. Our representatives, those the founders declared more trustworthy than we common folk, have been systematically paid off by power and money; the power of promised jobs after their ‘service to the country’ and the money of those who offer those jobs.

On the promised jobs side, Democratic Representative Dick Gephardt left office to become a lobbyist and his lobbying agency, Gephardt Government Affairs Group, earned close to $7 million in revenues in 2010 alone from clients including Goldman Sachs, Boeing, Visa Inc., Ameren Corporation, and Waste Management Inc. 
What do you suppose made Dick so valuable? Possibly, his Rolodex of every sitting congressman and he is but a single example.
On the money side, Wall Street alone spent $2 billion on candidates in the 2016 election. Add in the banks, military contractors, billionaire citizens and political action committees (PACS) and you come up with some pretty serious money.

In any other nation, we would call this fraud and bribery, but our Congress enacted their version of fraud and bribery into law. A law for their own benefit, the greedy bastards. The Supreme Court went along with it. You or I would have been locked up.

They made the money-tree perfectly legal and disproved the fact that money doesn’t grow on trees. As Will Rogers said, “we have the best government money can buy.”

I frequently ask myself, why would any sensible man spend millions to run for the House or Senate, only to be paid $175,000 to $193,000 in salary? I frequently answer myself that the salary is inconsequential. The salary cannot possibly be the point. The point, the actual driving force, is access to the power and money tree.

The scumbags who dominate our locked-up, dysfunctional, hair-tearing and pathetic Congress lied to us to get our vote. They knew it would work. It had always worked. They grabbed the power and money and ran off like thieves in the night because they knew in their black little hearts that America didn’t give a shit.

Yet 90 million of us failed to even show up for the 2016 elections. We proved we no longer give a shit. So don’t bitch and moan about the state of the nation, off-shoring of jobs, guns on the streets and rampant economic inequality.

Get out there and give a shit. The mid-term elections are in November and even fewer voters turn out for them. Yet the mid-terms will select all House members and 1/3 of the entire Senate.

Get up from the sofa, set down your beer, close up Netflix and let dear old dead Ben Franklin know that we absolutely can keep our Republic. The women of America are doing just that, with more than 6,000 independent groups across America insisting that candidates meet their expectations for every office from local school-boards to Congress.

Those expectations are both varied and specific, depending upon the issues. But they, along with the surviving kids from the Parkland shooting are doing the work we have too long left to others.

There are no others. Others have failed us for forty years.

Join them, support them and cheer them on to take back our inheritance as Americans before our Republic is truly lost. Make the 2018 mid-term elections a #MeToo moment and vote for your Republic.