Thursday, January 6, 2022

Of the People, By the People, For the People

Against all common sense, I still have a landline. Absolute no one calls me on it except for Forests Forever and similar groups and I pay enough money for the phone to help support Forests Forever. Why haven’t I gotten rid of it?


Old attachments die hard and often we cling to them far beyond their use. It’s as simple as that. What—and who— we know that we’ve figured out how to live with often feels easier to keep by our side than abandoning them.


As with telephones, so with political structures that have long outlived their use. Or began with a dubious use, one designed to benefit just some of the people in a democratic nation at the expense of others. And so on this anniversary of one of our country’s biggest threats to our democratic ideals, the one that shocked us all because it wasn’t a communist conspiracy or an ISIS terrorist attack, but an assault instigated by our own President and supported by some of the Congress-people who themselves were threatened inside the Senate chambers, it’s a good time to consider the six things that would turn this country back toward its highest promise as a truly representative democracy. 


1. Pass the John Lewis Voter’s Rights Act: This is designed to take voter suppression out of the hands of states run by political parties who manipulate law to their advantage and return democracy to fair voting practices that truly reflects the will of the voters— and thus allows us to return to the Mission Statement of government “of the people, by the people and for the people,” with expanded definitions of who is “people.” (All of us.)


2. Rebalance the Supreme Court: The denial of Merrick Garland near the end of the Obama administration and the fast-tracking of Amy Coney Barrett just days after Ruth Ginsburg drew her last breath and approval of Brett Kavanaugh in the face of clear sexual abuse charges purposefully tilted the Supreme Court toward one party. Since the Court has enormous power in our representative democracy, handing a dubious election victory to George Bush in 2000 and repealing the Voter’s Right Act (see above) in 2013, it’s time for the present Congress to add more members. 


3. End the Filibuster: This archaic practice was mostly designed to halt progressive legislation that would serve the American people. It’s long overdue to end it.


4. Repeal the Electoral College: Another archaic institution that allowed arguably America’s worst president to get elected after losing the popular vote. 


5. Rebalance the Senate: Population-wise, the people are not proportionately represented in the Senate. Wyoming (population 587, 759) has the same representation in the Senate as California (population 39, 370, 000). A government “of, by and for the people” is not served in this arrangement, especially as the Senate has long blocked and continues to block any legislation outside of the conservative party line. 


6. Tax the rich alongside everyone else: A budget of the people, by the people and for the people should be supported by all the people, with the rich and super-rich paying their fair share. As any 10-year old could tell you—“Duh!”


And one more. “No taxation without representation!”was the rallying cry for the birth of this nation and yet residents of Washington D.C. (with a 50% black population) have no vote. Gee, I wonder why.


So on this January 6th day, let’s focus our efforts to create a democracy that fulfills its true promise. If all seven of the above were changed, we would truly be a beacon for the world. But hey, I’d be happy to start with any one of the above! 


And I will celebrate by giving up my landline. 


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