Stop Blaming Government, Stop Blaming One Another
There is little doubt that Government today is not the best that America has to offer. When Americans rate Congress below cockroaches, traffic jams, and Nickelback and less than a quarter trust Government to do what is right “most of the time,” you know that something is deeply wrong.
Yet, to blame Government itself misses the entire point, because in America — at least in principle — Government is largely us.
It is us in a very physical sense, because for every one American employed in manufacturing, there are almost two directly employed by federal, state, or local government. When you include contracts, the number of Americans directly depending on government spending for their livelihood can be estimated to reach as high as 17 percent of our entire active workforce.
Adding in historical service, surely most of us can think of a friend or family member that is or was a teacher, admin, firefighter, police officer, military member, construction worker, or researcher that received income from government spending. Are they honestly the problem? That is why attacking Government is like stabbing the organs of your body just because you are sick — it makes no physical sense.
Government is us in a very social sense, too, because the way that our police, military, intelligence, and elected leaders treat citizens and all peoples of the world, is a direct reflection of how we treat one another. When we let fear and anger cast false judgement upon those around us, we create government policies that do the very same.
Most importantly, Government is us in principle, because, as Lincoln so eloquently put it, our nation is “dedicated to the proposition that all [citizens] are created equal.” As such, when all citizens — regardless of race, gender, or orientation — are held equal, then no single individual or interest should be able to take private gain at the expense of the Republic.
Whether it is taxation without representation, crony capitalism over free markets, or private profit without account to massive public risk, we — as citizens of a democratic republic — can no longer abide. We must “highly resolve” once again to ensure “that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
Bad Government is not the problem. It is a symptom. It is excess, corruption, waste, fraud, and abuse that are the problems, and until we make that pivot, we will never come anywhere close to a cure.
To make that pivot, we have to look at Government not as the enemy, but as the patient. When someone is ill, you do not start by hacking off body parts. You begin with a diagnoses.
I know this election is frustrating. Believe me, there are few people as frustrated as me, but to write 2016 off, throw up your hands, or succumb to “least worst” logic is to miss out on a huge opportunity to make sure that we never, ever, have an election like this again.
In the appeal that singlehandedly won Americans’ resolve to declare independence from the monarchy, Thomas Paine observed that even the very best government is nothing more than an unfortunate necessity. A bad government, however, is simply intolerable.
How much more intolerable does it really need to get?
There are four hundred and seventy federal offices up for election come November. Four hundred and thirty-five in the House, thirty-four in the Senate, and one president. We can choose any four hundred and seventy Americans we want, whether they are on the ballot or not. All it takes is organization.
Yet, the establishment political organizations are clearly failing us. There are no backups and there are not yet any viable alternatives. There is only one way to salvage 2016, and that is in numbers.
On their own, there are not enough liberal, conservative, independent, progressive, tea party, occupy, or otherwise disenfranchised Americans to make even the smallest dent in the current political system. Together, however, we would be unstoppable. Not one of those four hundred and seventy offices could refuse our reforms, and not a single campaign could afford to ignore our demands.
What could possibly unite all those people so conditioned to fight one another? Nothing that exists yet, but if we can at least agree on the core principles, then we can — without any doubt — create it.
If bad Government is the symptom and excess, corruption, waste, fraud, and abuse are the problems, then the principles of efficiency, integrity, conservation, transparency, and accountability will determine the solutions.
How efficient is a Congress where members spend up to half of their day dialing for private dollars to serve a public office? What is the true integrity of an election where the right to vote is restricted, millions sit out, and districts are gerrymandered? How conservative is a legislature that submits to the requests of lobbyists over the commanders of our armed forces? How transparent is a two thousand page bill that is incomprehensible to everyone, including the very people set to vote on it? How accountable is Congress, when 85 percent of the seats are “safe” in election after election?
There are solutions to each of these problems. All we need do, is highly resolve to define them and demand them. Many groups are already one step ahead in promoting and crafting solutions across federal, state, and local levels. Listed below are just a handful of the groups taking action right now. Please support them if you can. Yet, as important as these groups are, not one provides a big enough tent.
To reach the number of voters required, we must remove the partisan frame and resist the desire to require controversial solutions. We must start with the principles alone and trust that good process will determine the ultimate solutions. We have to go beyond campaigns to raise awareness or win small victories.
More than anything though, we simply cannot give up on the opportunity for democracy in 2016. While the inside players may hold all the power over how our current elections work, we still hold all the votes. So, stop blaming government and stop blaming one another. It is time for us to fix democracy first.
Sign up at EqualCitizens.US
Support Existing Efforts
Local Legislation: Represent.us
Reform Candidates: Mayday.US
Direct Action: DemocracySpring.org