Restoring American Democracy
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Restoring American Democracy

Every high school student in the United States is familiar with the fundamental concepts of our democracy as embodied in the Gettysburg Address, the Declaration of Independence, and the United States Constitution. In brief, these documents underscore the proposition that the authority of a legitimate government depends on a free people who give their consent to be governed; a government “of the people, by the people, and for the people.”

The American Dream

The United States once lived up to these democratic ideals. America was the land of opportunity with a thriving middle class where high school graduates could find stable, high wage jobs in manufacturing industries. College graduates had ready access to professional careers and management positions. Citizens could afford to own their own homes, had money to fund their own health care, educate their children, vacation, and retire comfortably. Comparing this recent past to the present reveals how American prosperity has declined.

Evaluating the Record

The only legitimate way to evaluate your elected representatives in Washington is to examine their collective record of achievement. Ask yourselves if this record reflects a government operated of, by, and for the people

According to statistics published by the United States Treasury Department, the middle class has been disappearing and the country is deeply in debt due to an uncontrolled budget deficit ($19 trillion dollars) and poorly negotiated trade agreements resulting in a burgeoning trade imbalance ($46 billion dollars). High paying manufacturing jobs are being shipped out of the U.S. to foreign countries such as China and Mexico. As a consequence, the discrepancy between rich and poor continues to widen with 20% of the population controlling 80% of the wealth. Other factors contributing to this decline include:

  • A series of fruitless wars destabilizing the Middle East have cost $6 trillion dollars and resulted in 4500 deaths, 32000 injured, 100s of thousands of civilians casualties, and increased acts of terrorism worldwide.
  • Welfare programs have been expanded to over one trillion dollars annually without enabling recipients to enter the workforce and become self supporting.
  • Medicare for elderly retirees is threatened with insolubility.
  • The country’s infrastructure is deteriorating and needs $3.6 trillion in improvements.
  • Waste and fraud is estimated in the billions of dollars.
  • Wasteful and unnecessary funding earmarks are routinely hidden in unrelated legislative bills.
  • The tax code is an incomprehensible mass of rules and regulations operated by a one of many unnecessary and redundant government bureaucracies.

Who is responsible for these failures of government and why do they refuse to honor their mandate to serve the people?

Who Governs

Regardless of your political party or ideology, the above examples clearly demonstrate that our elected political office holders fail to represent the citizenry.

The culture of American politics appears to have spawned a predatory class of wealthy individuals who feed at the trough of public benefits and special interests. They discourage campaign reform, pass bills to ensure high salaries and benefits for themselves, and spend most of their efforts getting re-elected. They neglect the public welfare and serve those that bankroll their campaigns and reward them with lucrative consulting contracts once they leave government employment.

If any conclusion can be reached it is that the current political system is broken and widespread changes are needed. Here are a few common sense suggestions to restore the American dream.

Change is Needed

  • Reduce the size of the federal government and its many agencies by reallocating substantial tax revenues to the states.
  • Balance the budget
  • Cut out fraud, graft, inefficiency, and redundancy in government agencies and programs.
  • Renegotiate equalized foreign trade agreements.
  • Tie foreign aid grants to quid pro quo agreements.
  • Reward American industries with tax and market incentives that remain in the United States and hire American workers.
  • Penalize American companies with tax and import disincentives if they move jobs to foreign countries.
  • Revise and simplify the tax code using a fixed tax and eliminate tax loopholes for the wealthy so every citizen and business pays their fair share.
  • Guarantee protection for social security retirement benefits
  • Provide public works programs designed to rebuild and maintain the country’s infrastructure and public parks making meaningful work available to the unemployed and those collecting welfare.
  • Key the minimum wage to the standard cost of living.
  • Limit campaign financing to a fixed dollar amount from public funds and outlaw special interest financing.
  • Impose term limits on political offices and fix pay and benefits comparable to that of the U.S. median income range.
  • Reinstate the draft in the form of government service and require all 18 year olds, of both sexes, including the children of politicians and to serve without any deferments.
  • Secure the borders, establish a path for legalized immigrant worker status and citizenship, and enforce strict legal sanctions against US businesses who employ illegal immigrants.
  • Fund the military, homeland security, cyber security commensurate with accurate threat assessments from the expert community.

Summary

The founding fathers of American democracy believed that the authority of a legitimate government depends on the a free people who give their consent to be governed.; a government “of the people, by the people, for the people.” From these principles the American dream was born and came to fruition. Unfortunately the culture of professional politics has devolved into a predatory class of wealthy individuals who fail to represent the public interest and serve the special interests. Sweeping change is required to save our democracy from mismanagement, greed, and graft, and to restore economic prosperity to the citizens.

For more informative articles see James W. Siddall on Facebook.

Image courtesy of Flickr under CCO public domain.


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