Let’s Reform Our Democracy to Properly Represent The Interests Of All Americans
Welcome to my website where you can find more on my recent book, The Democracy Amendments, an archive of my periodic Vermont Public Radio commentaries, opinion pieces, plus brief details and links to democracy building events I support as an activist, and a gallery of photos drawn from activities I’ve enjoyed. Thanks for visiting.
Letter to the Editor — submitted to The Economist on July 18th, 2018
America’s dysfunctional politics (The Minority Majority, July 14th) is, at root, a system problem. The way it currently is structured and financed has many inter-related parts contributing to its failure to provide proper representation for the broad public interests of its citizens – the very reason colonists broke from Great Britain, declared independence, and founded our country.
Today, despite our many ideological differences, Americans all have a common interest in achieving this goal of proper representation.
A system problem cannot be repaired by correcting only a few of its many dysfunctional parts, and a broad enough movement cannot be mounted, much less be successful, without a strategy that is broad and comprehensive enough to be understood by tens of millions across party lines to, if enacted, actually repair the broken system.
Sadly, such a strategy and movement doesn’t yet exist in America. Instead, the Boards of Directors of hundreds of activist non-profits, direct their organizations to push back against the continuing erosions of voting rights, consumer protections, and more that are merely symptoms of the systemic political dysfunction. To be fair, outcomes would be worse without this pushback.
Meanwhile, the majority of these same activist non-profits have, unsuccessfully for decades, continued the strategy of pressing Congress to reform the structure and financing of our political system. It hasn’t worked. Our Founding Fathers believed that, if we came to this point in the future, Congress would never initiate comprehensive reform. It’s simply not in Congress’s interest.
For this reason, our Constitution provides, in Article V, an alternate way that we citizens can use to have much more control over reform proposals. We can press our state legislatures to call a Constitutional Convention to propose amendments. Properly worded amendments will strengthen our Constitution so that our elected representatives have much more incentive to prioritize the broad public interests of citizens over narrower private interests.
Sadly, the Boards of Directors of most of the hundreds of activist non-profits do not support such a strategy. But Boards of Directors have a duty to members of their organizations, to accomplish the goals set on behalf of their members. When not making progress toward these goals, and instead only pushing back against the symptoms of political dysfunction that continually erode progress towards these goals, it’s time to re-assess that strategy.
South Burlington, Vermont