While I support Hillary Clinton for president of the United States, it’s a fair question to ask how she and her opponent, having among the lowest approval ratings in history for the office, came to be the sole survivors vying for this high office. What does their ascendancy say about the state of America’s democracy? That the public is frustrated is clear. That they feel they have no true champion is also clear.
On the democratic side, Hillary Clinton is viewed as supporting the status quo, a member of the politically elite. On the Republican side, Donald Trump, a multimillionaire businessman, tries to pass himself off as a representative of working people.
But who really speaks for us? Not Wall Street and apparently, not many of our elected leaders. That’s why the Tea Party Movement and Occupy Wall Street, though they offer different solutions, have emerged. Both demand that power be returned to the people.
Oddly enough our founding fathers considered creating a pure democracy –one person one vote — but rejected the idea in favor of a republic. According to writer Felix Salmon, Alexander Hamilton’s intent was to “insulate lawmakers from the masses.” (“The Anti-Democratic Urge,” by Astra Taylor, New Republic, September 2016, pg. 16.)
Whether by design or accident, the oligarchs do seem to have gained the upper hand. Sadly, they are mistaken in their belief that in serving themselves, they serve their country. They have gutted the social safety network, gutted school funding, packed prisons with “undesirables’” and weakened unions. By their own hand they have scattered the seeds of rebellion.
Unfortunately, mob rule is the danger that threatens when a disconnect exists between the people and their government. But the people have a responsibility, also. Too many of us pay little attention to government until it becomes an economic issue of personal consequences. Too many see voting as an option and not a duty. When we look for those to blame, we should start with ourselves. If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be. (Thomas Jefferson)