I want to address the major U.S. issue of ideological division, which is also present in many other of the world’s democracies, albeit at a lesser level. It seems to be a societal trend that is moving us towards the fringes of political thought and toward the specter of autocracy and popularism; basically, we are moving towards ideological domination by the far right and far left.
Virtually every pundit is decrying this movement regardless of whether they support far right ideas or far left ideas. Almost everyone will say the political/ideological division is in crisis. The fringe positions are becoming more entrenched, and communication between the two sides is diminishing rapidly. The end result could very well change democracies drastically, and even eliminate them.
If I may say so, it’s more than time to stop crying about it, and actually propose ideas to bring the country’s focus back towards the moderate middle on both sides of the fence. Fringe ideologies will always exist and, to a limited extent, should always exist in a democracy, but letting them dominate national policy, laws and regulations is asinine and dangerous.
A reality check, if I may. We, the moderate middle, are definitely in the majority by a long way, so why don’t we stand up against this destructive nonsense coming from the fringes. The question is, how can we do it?
I have a few ideas that could start us off!
First, the fundamental concept of democracy, of any variety, is citizen participation in the selection of representatives. It doesn’t matter if you are talking about American-style systems, British parliamentary system or any of the other interpretations of democratic style out there. Citizen participation remains the bedrock. I exclude the fake democracies of places like China and Russia, where citizens are hoodwinked into believing they live in a democracy when they don’t.
If participation is the bedrock then voting is not only your right, it’s your obligation. Voting should be a legal requirement with penalties for non-compliance. That’s the only way to guarantee a truly democratic result of any election. Sure, any system can be manipulated and rigged, but 100% participation in the vote makes the job of manipulators that much more difficult.
In the case of the U.S., where each state can determine the system it uses to elect national officials, is an insult to American citizens since you’re ability to make your vote count depends on where you live. How can you, as American citizens, be equally represented when the system that elects your representative depends on geography and not your equal rights as a citizen?
Second, the Electoral College system is an archaic and totally undemocratic system and should be abolished. The system for electing representatives for national office should be standardized across the country. States’ rights advocates will scream bloody murder at this idea, but the U.S. is a country and citizens’ rights across the country should be equal. A naïve, I know, but a fundamental right that every citizen should enjoy, especially from a country that sees itself as the harbinger of democracy. I should also include the right to vote of U.S. citizens living in Puerto Rico, Guam and any other U.S. jurisdiction.
Third, another idea to make representation more effective for citizens, which has often been discussed, but almost never acted upon, is term and age limits for public officials of all descriptions. 25 and 80 year old congress people, 30 and 90 year old senators, 40 and 80 year old Supreme Court judges and 40 and 75 year old presidents should be banned. At one end of the spectrum, they don’t have the experience or maturity, and at the other end, they don’t have the mental or physical capacities. We can argue over the exact age limits.
As I am writing this the U.S. Supreme Court is considering a case that proposes giving state legislatures the legal right to determine the results of elections regardless of what the people say. To be blunt, I don’t give a damn what twist any lawyer tries to put on the Constitution’s wording, that is blatantly undemocratic, immoral in a democratic society, totally un-American, and a major step towards autocracy. We, the moderate middle, must actively head in the opposite direction before we are no longer allowed to. It is indicative of the current state of political and ideological division, and the lack of integrity in all public officials, that the Supreme Court even agreed to hear this case.
I am putting out a formal request to all my readers to send me, either by commenting on the end of this blog, or through my email, your suggestions for the steps we, the moderate middle, need to implement to stop this divisive rot in our ideological and political systems before it’s too late. That may sound overly dramatic to our comfortable sensitivities, but the danger this movement poses is real, and can definitely happen in any democracy, including that of the United States. Please help me put together this action plan and I will keep you posted on progress through this blog site. Thank you and, looking to the future, thank us.