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November 26, 2015


I was invited by a university professor to comment on the question of whether democracy can work given our present day political polarity. Following was my response, lightly edited, which I offer here in blog form.

How to respond to your provocative thesis that democracy simply may not work? Perhaps we can simply throw in the towel and agree with nihilists that government is not now and never was necessary, or with libertarians with their view that government is only necessary to protect assets and that individual freedoms trump collective agreement in any case. Several other ideas could be advanced in this connection to explain contraction or expansion of what government provides or refuses to provide to the polity, depending upon what undergirding views a majority of the electorate decides (or is told to decide by competing propaganda mills, all with their own fish to fry, like, for instance, softening up the hoi polloi for the coming corporate privatization of social security, education etc.).

I am not at this time in favor of the system I will be proposing here, but offer it as an alternative to the current gridlock we are experiencing (with Wall Street wolves feeding such intramural political battles to poison the idea of government with their privatization of public assets and ultimate corporate takeover awaiting its downfall).

Perhaps it is not democracy but rather its presentation that is the problem. After all, there are many successful democracies around the world these days which do not have a two-party system in which the many disparate views are herded into either one or two points of view on the issues. They have a parliamentary system with multi-party representation so that voters have a choice based on the real issues of the day, and typically govern by coalition of parties sufficient for the governing majority. Thus not all Republicans are Republicans and not all Democrats are Democrats. A parliamentary system allows voters a far greater choice and makes their representatives more sensitive to the voters’ real concerns than that of the rich and party hacks. I think a more responsive system would lend itself to a new respect for government and also offer a means of marginalizing those on the fringe where, for instance, a whole political party is currently held hostage to some 40 House members to whom “compromise” is a four- letter word.

I am, as earlier suggested, opposed to adoption of such a major structural change in how we are to live up to our democratic idealism, but if the present juvenile brawls continue and the process of governing remains hogtied, then I am open to suggestion. Democracy is our most important asset, far more important than the methodology of its presentation, so if the present trek to Third World status continues, then let’s call a Constitutional Convention and do the necessary.

Meanwhile, I hang on to the fleeting hope that we can have a democracy within a more enlightened two-party system in charge of adults who have not sold their political souls to the vested interests, but like as in the old slave song, “I grows weary,” (and I am not alone). When do we jumpstart real democracy by starting to govern in the public interest and not that of the narrow interests of the few with deep pockets? Ever (speaking of weariness)? Parliamentary democracy? Given our present political mayhem, it’s a thought.   GERALD    E

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