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Why America Does Not Yet Have Real Democracy

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  • Strongly Liberal
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    Seattle, WA
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    On this anniversary of the Declaration of Independence I thought I would share with you a video address that speaks to how and why the spirit of the original Declaration has been virtually lost, along with Democracy, and it has been replaced with the kind of plutocratic rule that most of America’s Founders (especially Thomas Jefferson) fought against.

    The introduction posted on the speaker’s Web site, on a page titled Real Democracy vs Plutocracy, includes an analysis of Thomas Jefferson’s and James Madison’s views on Democracy, along with the text of the address.

    Here is the introduction::

    The speech in the video on this page is designed for the widest audience possible. However, it is especially designed for all the average Americans who work hard for a living but have become painfully aware that your standard of living is or will be far lower than your parents' standard of living. And you have become increasingly aware that the present outlook for your children and their offspring is not good, for a large variety of reasons.

    “You know something is terribly wrong, and terribly unfair. But, you may be confused, because even though the facts of the matter are clear, those facts are being blurred and even contradicted by certain politicians, ‘experts,’ commentators and others you see on television, who have steadily and increasingly been presenting a message leading you to believe that it is you, the people, who are to blame for the problems you face.

    “They tell you that all you need to do is be more self-reliant, work harder, be more ambitious and more frugal, and simply invest and save your money for retirement or a rainy day. And, they claim, if you merely do that you will enjoy the fruits of your labor and live in fulfillment of the American Dream.

    “However, that is deceptive propaganda designed to create guilt in you while enabling and entitling the wealthiest few, and that propaganda was cunningly designed to establish the plutocratic political economic system you now live under.

    “Furthermore, another part of that myth is that the American form of 'Democracy' is a model for the world. But that is why the speech in the video presents a reality-based, Jeffersonian point of view, which shatters the myth.”

  • Liberal
    Independent
    Durham, NH
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    As always, you are right on Guy!
  • Independent
    Ft.myers, FL
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    pr Wrote: As always, you are right on Guy!
    Yes I fully agree; I wonder however what direction this country will take after the elections.
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    HERE is a very short montage of videos, on the same theme ---- our Democracy is in grave danger, from whom, and WHY. It won't take very long, some of it is funny, and you will learn a lot. (It also goes well with Guy Dwyer's beautiful eloquent speech given to us immediately above). GOD BLESS YOU ALL.

    VERY IMPORTANT --------- youtu.be/RfKSSnYxAnk

  • Independent
    Ft.myers, FL
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    eternal flame Wrote:

    HERE is a very short montage of videos, on the same theme ---- our Democracy is in grave danger, from whom, and WHY. It won't take very long, some of it is funny, and you will learn a lot. (It also goes well with Guy Dwyer's beautiful eloquent speech given to us immediately above). GOD BLESS YOU ALL.

    VERY IMPORTANT --------- youtu.be/RfKSSnYxAnk

    GOD BLESS YOU ALL? I never noticed that; did you ask this "human" invented thing if "it" approves your statement? May be "it" wants only to bless ISIS? or an Eskimo, how do you know? Give me "its" cell phone please.
  • Strongly Liberal
    Independent
    Seattle, WA
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    eternal flame Wrote:

    HERE is a very short montage of videos, on the same theme ---- our Democracy is in grave danger, from whom, and WHY. It won't take very long, some of it is funny, and you will learn a lot. (It also goes well with Guy Dwyer's beautiful eloquent speech given to us immediately above). GOD BLESS YOU ALL.

    VERY IMPORTANT --------- youtu.be/RfKSSnYxAnk

    Thanks. As always I appreciate your comments and it's good to hear from you (and the others). The video montage you provided a link for is interesting, and I have some comments about it.

    First, I like much of what Noam Chomsky says, especially about Social Security. But I feel I should say I disagree with him about some of his views, like the intent of America's Founders and Framers of the Constitution regarding Democracy. In my opinion, Chomsky does not help our cause when he claims James Madison was against Democracy. That why on the page about the speech I posted there is an analysis of Jefferson's and Madison's views regarding Democracy that refutes Chomsky's conclusion. It shows how and why Jefferson and Madison wanted a Democratic Republic.

    As for Ayn Rand, it's good that your video reveals how the Libertarian Tea Partiers love her. I think it would help if more people understood why Ayn Rand thought what she thought, and it would help if more Americans understood how and why Ronald Reagan reflected Randian thinking..

    Right-wing Republicans, like Libertarians and the “Tea Party,” love Laissez Faire government. That’s why Ayn Rand has become a cult hero to many of them, along with Ronald Reagan, who was a champion of Laissez Faire government. As you know, some of them even consider Rand a prophet. However, even though Ayn Rand was probably well-meaning and had some good insights, she was sadly mistaken about some very crucial issues.

    You may know this, but Rand was born in 1905 in Russia, and her family was financially ruined after the Russian Revolution of 1917. She grew up hating Russian Communism, and she moved to America. Then, when the wealthiest few and the capitalist economic system became so corrupt in America that it caused an economic collapse in 1929 followed by the Great Depression, she simply misunderstood and therefore feared the New Deal of President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

    Ayn Rand did not recognize how needed and necessary Roosevelt’s reforms, regulations, safeguards and protections were, and she feared his regulations would be like those of Soviet Communism in Russia. And, since she hated government control because she had seen what it had done in Russia, especially under Stalin, she supported Laissez Faire government that left capitalism unregulated. She believed it was the only social political economic system that "protected individual rights" and ensured “free enterprise.”

    In the 1980s Ronald Reagan and the Neo-Conservatives revived that Randian ideology, touting “free enterprise and free markets” and claiming that “big government” was antithetical to freedom. But, unfortunately, all that was propaganda and rhetoric designed to make the American people forget or ignore the lessons of history, and forget or ignore how and why Laissez Faire government had almost brought about the ruination of America before Roosevelt saved it in the 1930s and ‘40s.

    That is why real Democrats believe in Jeffersonian Democracy, and in Roosevelt's New Deal. They believe that government must promote the general welfare, ensure justice for all, and properly and sufficiently regulate and oversee big businesses, corporations and banks; that we must provide an adequate safety net to provide for those who need financial assistance and other care; and that we must legislate to make the vast majority prosperous, because widespread prosperity will benefit the whole country in many ways.

    As you know, Roosevelt's New Deal and Democratic success in the 1930s and ‘40s enabled the Middle Class to grow very large and great by the late 1940s and ‘50s, making it very clear that widespread prosperity produces widespread well being. Moreover, it produced more prosperous taxpayers who contributed more to make the whole country better.

    Of course this is elementary to you and others here who are politically savvy, but it is these simple but forgotten or ignored truths and facts of history that need to be told now, again and again, to counter the Randian, Reaganite ideology..

  • Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Colorado Springs, CO
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    Guy -- Thank you for sharing another intriguing line of thought regarding our representative democracy. Especially the history of the Federalists, and the differences in thinking between Adams and Jefferson in our history is well worth reading. There is also much truth in the contention that our representative form of government has evolved more towards what the author define as "plutocracy", although I would disagree that we are there yet. "The concept, of course, is not new. The sociologist, Robert Michaels, in his 1911 book, Political Parties: A Sociological Study of the Oligarchical Tendencies of Modern Democracy, introduced the concept of the Iron Law of Oligarchy. His thesis in 1911 was that all large scale social organizations are incompatible with democracy because they require to be organized along bureaucratic principles and that bureaucracies inevitably develop oligarchies. The leaders of the bureaucracies will "amass resources (superior knowledge control over the formal means of communication with the membership, and the skill in the art of politics) given them power at the expense of rank and file members." Or to put it more succinctly:

    "Large-scale organizations give their officers a near monopoly of power"

    "Michels expressed doubts about whether the rank and file possess the skills necessary to compete with the leaders, a concept he phrased as the "incompetence of the masses". In order to prevent the development of an oligarchy, the regular members must be involved in various activities of the organizations; however, reality of time constrains due to work, family and leisure will reduce the amount of time that most such members are willing to dedicate to active involvement in organizational activities and politics. This is compounded by the rank and file lack of education, and corresponding sophistication of the leadership."

    "The masses are incapable of taking part in the decision-making process and desire strong leadership."

    Michaels case study was the German Democratic Party of his day, but his theories have been widely cited by other scholars in describing the bureaucracies and tendencies towards corruption and power grabbing in all large organizations including trade unions, large churches, and those concerned with social welfare or special interests. With respect to our political parties, the necessity to solicit funds from large donors to be elected is a corrupting process that favors those politicians that are beholden to their wealthy oligarch donors. The gutting of campaign finance laws by the Supreme Court is just a part of the overall process that has become inherently corrupt. Even well intentioned candidates like Barack Obama and Bernie Sanders (if he would be so fortunate as to become President) have a hard time functioning within the various special interest groups that now populate our government bureaucracies (e.g. Tea Party, Christian Evangelicals, military), without the ability to compromise their ideals and values as they seek to make progress on the issues of the day.

    Having said that, I do have serious reservations about what kind of government we might find if a Constitutional Convention was convened. Consider, for example, that various states have proposed convening a Constitutional Convention for the single purpose of passing a balanced budget amendment. According to Fox News we are very close to reaching that 2/3rds threshold of states supporting such an amendment. Yet such an amendment, if passed, would be an economic disaster for the United States, forcing an austerity program on the masses, and especially the poor and middle class, considerably worse than the Greek situation of today. It would only exasperate the inequality between the oligarchs and the masses, yet the "incompetence of the masses" to think critically about the implications of such an amendment is scary. In fact it would be the final nail in the coffin of our so called democracy.

    And if the Constitutional Convention were to be open to putting "everything on the table" to rewrite our Constitution, just what kind of new organizational structure and bill of rights would emerge with so many of the red states dominating the convention? Not a pleasant thought. The people that we have elected to our state governments in those red states give a chill down my spine. I would NEVER want them deciding on how we should reorganize the executive branch of our government. They are just not capable.

    I have some further thoughts, but I'll leave those for now. We can discuss before I move on.

  • Strongly Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Portland, OR
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    I second Schmidt. Thanks for sharing this Guy.

    Schmidt Wrote: Having said that, I do have serious reservations about what kind of government we might find if a Constitutional Convention was convened. Consider, for example, that various states have proposed convening a Constitutional Convention for the single purpose of passing a balanced budget amendment. According to Fox News we are very close to reaching that 2/3rds threshold of states supporting such an amendment. Yet such an amendment, if passed, would be an economic disaster for the United States, forcing an austerity program on the masses, and especially the poor and middle class, considerably worse than the Greek situation of today. It would only exasperate the inequality between the oligarchs and the masses, yet the "incompetence of the masses" to think critically about the implications of such an amendment is scary. In fact it would be the final nail in the coffin of our so called democracy.

    I fully agree that this would be a terrifying development and one that many of these red states who rely almost wholly on the federal government to get by will wind up deeply regretting.

    It will be interesting to see what happens if this actually comes to fruition. The Constitution doesn't really state how a Constitutional Convention would actually work. Article V reads:

    The Congress, whenever two thirds of both houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose amendments to this Constitution, or, on the application of the legislatures of two thirds of the several states, shall call a convention for proposing amendments, which, in either case, shall be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of this Constitution, when ratified by the legislatures of three fourths of the several states, or by conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other mode of ratification may be proposed by the Congress; provided that no amendment which may be made prior to the year one thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any manner affect the first and fourth clauses in the ninth section of the first article; and that no state, without its consent, shall be deprived of its equal suffrage in the Senate.

    There's no guidance on how this Convention would actually be handled. Will every state have an equal number of representatives or will it be based off of the population of each state? Where would the Convention be held? Who gets to choose where it's held? Will they only discuss the balanced budget or will there be an unlimited number of proposed amendments?

    The only bright note about this whole charade is that 3/4 of the states would still have to ratify any proposed Amendment and that will be a lot harder. Blue states may be underrepresented in this hypothetical Constitutional Convention, but they could easily thwart the passage of any Amendment to the Constitution if they aren't happy with it.

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    Hi Guy: It is so good to have you back at the hub. Times are getting really exciting, aren't they? I personally am afraid of Ayn Rand, since her ideas make many people think that selfishness is good, and that altruism is bad, -- which is the "opposite" of what our Christianity teaches us. And Judeo-Christianity is basically the heart of our national heritage, given us by our brilliant (ahead of their time) Founding Fathers. I am constantly amazed to find out they knew things way in the 1700's that we think are NEW. Like Thomas Paine's "Agrarian Justice" (1797) described how our govt should provide for widows, orphans, wounded soldiers, the disabled, & for all those who reach 50 years of age, -- a govt subsidy -- paid for by taxes. Amazing, how much that sounds a whole lot like Welfare, Social Security and Medicare, doesn't it? (And -- It was just considered the decent Christian thing to do,. to help your fellow human beings)..

    I WISH that WE ALL who KNOW about the Founding Father's IDEAS (like "Paine's Agrarian Justice") to pay widows & orphans & the elderly and handicapped, & wounded soldiers, & everyone who reaches the age of 50 yrs old (men & women alike) would be given govt money, (paid for by taxes), essentially exactly like our Social Security, Medicare, & some of our Welfare programs of TODAY. And we should ALL tell our fellow Americans that these are not weird ideas of "socialism" or "communism" --- but these ideas are directly from our USA Founding Fathers --- in 1797.

    Thomas Paine was brought to America by Benjamin Franklin, and he was the crusading journalist who created many familiar quotations: "These are the times that try men's souls" --- & gave life to the phrase describing the Enlightenment, as THE AGE OF REASON. Another timeless phrase, "We have it in our power to begin the world over again." Paine lived to see his old friend Thomas Jefferson get elected President in 1800.

    Years ago, Congress was going to build a monument to Thomas Paine. They got the permission for it. But apparently the money for it was never provided. (It was a Republican Admin). It is very tragic that Paine had been shunned most of the last years of his life, Due to some ugly slander, because a few of them said he was not a Christian. He died penniless and alone, with only 5 people who went to his last rites. So he had to be buried on his own property, under an apple tree, because no Christian Church would allow his body to be buried there. Another strange mystery, some person later "dug up" his body, to send it to England, supposedly to build a monument there, (in Paine's birthplace). But somehow, the body got misplaced enroute, & was never seen again.

    This fantastic heroic figure, a man given a great deal of credit for the American Revolution, & for his timeless classic writings, many he printed himself (for free), & for his exceptional bravery to aid the French Revolution, (that put him in a dungeon, in France, for several years, alone). He was sentenced to death, and all the stress & horrible conditions of prison, made him ill for the rest of his life. -- HOW COULD WE EVER REPAY HIM? I think we should try to find out the exact plot of land set aside for his Monument several years ago, and GIVE HIM A MONUMENT ---- at long last. //// Does anybody "second the emotion" ?

  • Strongly Liberal
    Independent
    Seattle, WA
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    Eternal Flame,

    I too like much of what Paine wrote, and I too despise the right-wing attacks on Obama.

    Obama's strategy, while frustrating for those who wanted him to retaliate strongly, have been restrained and measured, which has turned out in the long run to be in his favor and to his benefit.

    Generally speaking, I think most Americans can see who the good guys and bad guys are. But you know evil loves to masquerade as good, and many Americans are easily fooled into following demagogues who appeal to the ego and to pride and prejudices.

  • Strongly Liberal
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    Seattle, WA
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    Schmidt and Jared,

    I thank you for your kind comments, and I understand your concerns. They are similar to what I have heard from many others on other sites, especially Democratic Underground and OpEdNews.

    I think such concerns are based on the assumption that our present partisan political climate with the “red and blue” states will continue and persist. And granted, it is indeed very possible that this climate will persist for a while, perhaps even for a good while. Human nature being what it is, people resist making changes, even when they know they should make changes for the better. They usually procrastinate and wait until problems reach a crisis point.

    Nevertheless, negative and unproductive human nature can be overcome by a good idea whose time has come, and I believe it is but a matter of time before the political climate will change because of that.

    Of course a reality we must face is this: “Article 5 of the Constitution stipulates that new amendments may be proposed either by two-thirds of both houses of Congress, or by a national convention assembled at the request of the legislatures of at least two-thirds of the states. The amendments must then be ratified either by approval of the legislatures of three-fourths of the states, or by ratifying conventions held in three-fourths of the states. And Congress has discretion as to which method of ratification should be used.

    “Critics claim we could never do that, considering how many politicians in Congress and in state legislatures would initially object. Regardless of which side of the political isle they are on, they still enjoy the benefits of political office, the financial support, the favors, gifts and bribes from lobbyists, the great income, and the great retirement income and benefits. Therefore, they would be against any amendments to the Constitution that would comprehensively reform and alter the U.S. Government.

    “However, politicians do what is politically expedient to get re-elected, and if it became clearly evident that a majority of Americans clearly wanted a Constitutional Convention -- and even wanted the specific things outlined in The 21st Century Declaration of Independence -- do you think legislators would ignore the people’s desire? Would they not fear being tossed out of office if they did not comply with the people's wishes?

    “Ultimately the power is with the people, even though most of the people have successfully been duped and fooled into thinking that they are powerless and helpless, and that they need to follow and support a conquering political hero who will fight for them. That’s what keeps the whole partisan political system and the contest for the throne going.

    “Here’s the truth: Even though our political system is deeply flawed and needs reform, our government still operates with the consent of the governed, and if enough people demand something, politicians will do what the people want. Politicians act out of political expediency. So our task is to show them what would be politically expedient: obeying the will of the people.

    “Therefore, what we need to do is form a grass roots populist movement to rally around this idea and plan and make it clearly known what our demands are -- and that is up to you [the people]. You must act to alter and reform our government and make it a true Democracy of, by and for the people.”

    I put quotes on those six paragraphs because they are from a section titled Article 5 of the U.S. Constitution: Our Way To Liberation and Empowerment, which is part of the article on The 21st Century Declaration of Independence.

    Now the tempting thing to do would be for me to step into the political arena and the public eye to draw people’s attention to the idea, but the very idea is based on a new paradigm that renders partisan politics and the contest for the throne obsolete! Therefore, the movement to build a coalition for Reformation must be a populist, grass roots movement, of, by, and for the people.

    I have faith that when that movement happens it will sweep the nation. Even the corporate commercial television networks will have to cover all the growing political activism by people assembling in public parks and using the social media to discuss the idea.

    As John Lennon sang, “You may call me a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope someday you will join us. Then the world will be as one.” I believe that, and it’s not merely because I’m an old hippie. It’s because my insights and studies have led me to learn more and more about the subjects I am concerned with – religion and government – and the more I learn the more I am convinced that the original premise and vision expressed in the message I promote was correct all along.

    I should add that intellectual scholars who have spoken of “the masses” and drawn conclusions regarding the nature of political power have done so based on past and current political realities. They do not consider a comprehensive paradigm change, nor do they understand something very important.

    The Spirit of truth is within us – each and every one of us. We are all created equal in the “sight of God,” as it were, and the ideas that some people are superior because of their wealth or religion or nationality or race or culture will, in due time, become obsolete and outmoded. There will be a paradigm change, and a new Reformation of both religion and government. And the world is ripe for it.

    We are fortunate today that we live in an electronic information era. Because of that, politicians who hold offices in government should fear the power that we now have, but so far they don’t because the people have not realized their own power. And the people have so far not realized that they must now adopt a new way to speak to power, and a new way to voice their demands, in a legal, peaceful way, without malice or offense.

    In my view, the “Enlightenment” that took place due to the insights and realizations of good thinkers from Spinoza to Jefferson was not really an Enlightenment. It was merely the beginnings of an awakening, and it didn’t last for long. The theocratic "religious right" has made sure of that. But there will be a new awakening and a real Enlightenment that will bring comprehensive Reformation.

    Will we live to see it? God only knows.

  • Strongly Liberal
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    Seattle, WA
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    Since I've mentioned the notion of a new "Enlightenment," I should add something about the spiritual component of what I'm talking about.

    Even though I am a Deist like many of America's Founders, like them I appreciate the universal, core teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. And I understand that there was a very good reason why, when tempted with worldly power, he rejected it and instead emphasized that the "kingdom of heaven" was not of this world. In fact, he said the kingdom of of heaven is within, and comes not with observation in this world.

    That symbolic gesture and shared insight was to demonstrate the meaning of and answer to the question: "What does it profit a man if he gains the world but loses his soul?"

    There are much deeper spiritual meanings to that than you might imagine, though some of you may already understand it. But it is obvious that the society at large, having bought into the idea that there must be a "head" of state and a "head" of religion, is generally ignorant of what it means.

    The evolution of humanity will ultimately bring understanding of what it means, and in the future people will understand the folly of those who have sought, fought for, and won the throne. Instead, people will understand that we are all equal joint heirs to the throne, and to our divine inheritance. And that is why the nations of the world will ultimately have governments that are actually of the people, by the people, and for the people.

  • Independent
    Ft.myers, FL
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    Guy Dwyer Wrote:

    Since I've mentioned the notion of a new "Enlightenment," I should add something about the spiritual component of what I'm talking about.

    Even though I am a Deist like many of America's Founders, like them I appreciate the universal, core teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. And I understand that there was a very good reason why, when tempted with worldly power, he rejected it and instead emphasized that the "kingdom of heaven" was not of this world. In fact, he said the kingdom of of heaven is within, and comes not with observation in this world.

    That symbolic gesture and shared insight was to demonstrate the meaning of and answer to the question: "What does it profit a man if he gains the world but loses his soul?"

    There are much deeper spiritual meanings to that than you might imagine, though some of you may already understand it. But it is obvious that the society at large, having bought into the idea that there must be a "head" of state and a "head" of religion, is generally ignorant of what it means.

    The evolution of humanity will ultimately bring understanding of what it means, and in the future people will understand the folly of those who have sought, fought for, and won the throne. Instead, people will understand that we are all equal joint heirs to the throne, and to our divine inheritance. And that is why the nations of the world will ultimately have governments that are actually of the people, by the people, and for the people.

    Guy, I appreciate your previous threads; but this last one is "la la land". Sorry humanity is just an animal kingdom; there is nothing beyond survival of the fittest. We all turn to dust and the cycle starts over again. Old antique writings are just that; "writings" ; please observe the world around you; a "kingdom of heaven" does not exist nor will ever exist; this world and its human arrogance will continue as the French say: "L'Histoire ce repette". People will remain people with all their shortcomings; that will not change. The animal instinct will prevail. Either humanity will continue or will become extinct; your choice.

    Empires come and go; also the US is in the "downward" trend; reason as with many other "empires" is trying to rule the world as well built huge army's. History will be a "guideline"

  • Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Colorado Springs, CO
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    Guy -- Excellent points. Yes people can change in a grass roots movement, but there needs to be a real impetus for that change across a wide spectrum of America, and I don't see that now except in small pockets. The Bernie Sanders movement and his populist theme on inequality seems genuine and passionate, but I don't see it growing much beyond a certain demographic. Maybe I'm wrong there. I would be pleased if we had a Bernie Sanders as president, but human nature being what it is, his populist movement would lose energy as soon as the Republican naysayers do to him what they did to President Obama.

    I now spend time reading books and articles by psychologists trying to understand how the human brain works, or probably more accurately, how it is wired from birth to adulthood...why people believe what they believe. There are certain genetic traits that are a part of it, but our environment from birth also embeds itself into our thinking, and "changing peoples brains" as George Lakoff describes it is very difficult and takes a long time. With the collapse of the old Soviet Union in 1991, people so accustomed to totalitarianism all their lives were unable to cope with the demands of democracy. They are much more comfortable with the social structure of living under an authoritarian ruler. Hence Vladimir Putin's popularity is at some 86 percent today in Russia. The Russians love him. We in the west just cannot understand that. Likewise, the failures of trying to implement "democracy" in various Middle East countries so accustomed to kings and authoritarian rulers is largely due to the wired brains of the masses from birth.

    The reunification of Germany starting in 1990 is another interesting case study on human psychology. This extract from a academic paper studying the reunification process 20 years later is revealing:

    OSW, One Country Two Societies? Germany 20 years after unification

    "Two German societies are still functioning in parallel 20 years on after the country’s reunification. One was formed in the autocratic system of East Germany, while the other in the West German democracy. The new generation born after the reunification of Germany still shares, albeit to a significantly smaller extent, the behaviour models and the mindsets which had developed in the generations of their grandparents and parents. While designing and implementing the reunification process in 1990, the politicians focused primarily on adjusting the political, administrative and economic institutions of East Germany to Western standards. The problem of cultural differences between the two societies either was unnoticed in due time or was disregarded and repressed from consciousness during the euphoria of reunification. However, a few months were enough to revise one of the key slogans chanted during the democratic demonstrations in East Germany: “Wir sind das Volk. Wir sind ein Volk”(“We are the people. One people”). This appeared to have been wishful thinking and not a statement of real fact. According to a survey conducted after the reunification of Germany, most residents of the new federal states believe that the reunification and the changes it has entailed have brought them more losses than benefits."

    In thinking about a "united America" after the Civil War, we certainly made all the administrative and political things necessary to move the country ahead as one country. But some 150 years after "reunification" with the south, it would appear to me that, like East Germany, the cultural differences are much harder to overcome, and in effect the Old South has been operating as a "parallel society" for 150 years, displaying their Confederate battle flag in defiance. I suppose the same could be said for distinct societies in other geographic areas of America...e.g. Texas culture...Louisiana culture...the West versus the East...rural versus urban...tribal versus nation. The point I am making is that uniting Americans in a grass roots movement to rewrite our constitution is perhaps "wishful thinking" that would be hard to overcome not only our deep political divides, but also our religious and cultural differences. The outcome of a new Constitutional Convention cannot possibly satisfy everyone. There will be winners and losers, and the losers may never accept the changes.

    I may be wrong here. However, it would seem to me that most grass roots movements for change in America lose steam because Americans just lose interest. It is not sustainable. We elected President Obama in 2008 with the country on the verge of another Great Depression, but just two years later, those people, mostly young people, that were so energized in 2008 for Obama somehow were not energized enough in 2010 to carry on that support. And as we now know, losing Congress to the opposition (the Party of No) has made it difficult for Obama to achieve his goals.

    Having said all that, I shouldn't be a naysayer and be critical of your efforts without offering an alternative. At this time I do not have one. I can point fingers all over the place, but in particular after the last 2014 election in which Democrats lost even more ground, I have thrown my hands up in frustration, mostly lashing out at the folks who don't vote. I keep trying...but wow it's tough.

  • Strongly Liberal
    Independent
    Seattle, WA
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    Schmidt,

    I agree that at this point most Americans do not feel or know of the impetus for a populist grass roots movement to bring change with reformation. The closest thing to it was demonstrated in the "Occupy" movement and in support for Elizabeth Warren and then for Bernie Sanders. And while it remains to be seen whether or not Sanders will succeed, the odds are certainly stacked against him and the system is rigged against him.

    I’m glad you mentioned George Lakoff, because he is one of the more reasonable progressives. I agree about Putin, and I also agree that countries accustomed to kings and authoritarian rulers will be the hardest to bring around to a new democratic ideal.

    I agree about the ongoing aftermath of the Civil War. In fact, I recommend an article titled Why the Civil War Is Related To the Current Partisan Political Division. But I don’t feel pessimistic because of it. I feel it is a matter of good vs. evil, and the problem regarding what is now called the Neo-Confederacy is that evil loves to masquerade as good. After all, leading up to and during the Civil War Southern political and religious leaders justified slavery as an institution authorized by "The Word of God," and Neo-Confederate leaders today are still thumping their bible. But now they claim the Confederate flag does not symbolize white supremacy or racism.

    After explaining why the Civil War was caused by slavery, the article I just cited states:

    “There was indeed a secondary cause of the war, though, and it was the rebellious and seceding Southern state's refusal to recognize the central government's [developing] power to prevent the expansion Westward of the growing business of the slave trade. Most Americans were against that, and yet Southerners claimed it was a ‘violation of state's rights’ for the federal government to prevent it, and they even claimed that slavery was approved by ‘The Word of God.

    “That was confirmed by what the Vice President of the Confederate States, Alexander H. Stephens, had said in a speech in 1861 (a month before the South fired on Fort Sumter to start the Civil War). He said that ‘slavery’ was ‘the immediate cause of the late rupture and the present revolution.’

    “Even more telling is that Stephens had the gall to say that unlike the U.S. Constitution, which states that all men are equal, ‘The Confederacy is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its cornerstone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery, subordination to the superior race, is his natural and moral condition. This, our new Government, is the first, in the history of the world, based on this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth.’

    That article exposes the Neo-Confederate claim that slavery was not the cause of the Civil War, and it covers the history from 1619, when slavery was introduced in Jamestown Virginia Colony, to the present.

    It mentions that the Neo-Confederacy which arose with the Southern Pride movement (which began with the Southern rock band Lynyrd Skynard’s 1971 defiant response to Neil Young’s song Southern Man) will be stopped when the truth exposes the myths that right-wing racist Southerners have been led to believe. And I’m talking about the truth about Jesus’ teachings, the truth about history, the truth about the intent of America’s Founders, and the truth about what the Confederate flag actually symbolizes.

    But you are right that the outcome of a new Constitutional Convention will probably not satisfy everyone. There will be winners and losers. However, a Convention will not even take place until the winners have already won, and the winners will be the great, vast majority, which will include many good people in the South. And it will be the winners who will be able to pressure the legislators who hold state and federal offices to bring about a Convention, and to abide by an agenda set by wide national consensus.

    I understand why you think a populist grass roots movement cannot succeed. You have good reason, because, as you say, “we elected President Obama in 2008 with the country on the verge of another Great Depression, but just two years later, those people, mostly young people, that were so energized in 2008 for Obama somehow were not energized enough in 2010 to carry on that support.”

    I submit that Obama has been unable to succeed for two reasons. One has been the obstructionist, slanderous tactics of Republicans and Koch’s Tea Party, which were employed and demonstrated almost immediately after Obama’s election and intensified prior to the 2010 mid-term election. But the other reason has been the error of his own policies, to the extent that he followed Bush’s policies (depending on Wall Street insiders for advice, perpetuating the bad parts of the Patriot Act and the “War on Terror,” etc.).

    I believe the forces of greed and self-interest represented by the Koch brothers and their Tea Party, and Republicans in general, can be defeated by exposing the false premise of the Reagaite ideology. Reaganism can be exposed as the sham that it is, and truth is the only "weapon" we need.

    You are targeting the right people when you are “lashing out at the folks who don't vote.” But I wouldn’t lash out. I try to reach them, knowing exactly why they are so apathetic, or feel hopeless and helpless, and utterly sick of partisan politics.

    But do keep trying. I do too. And believe me, I know it's tough.