Friday, May 4, 2012

#125 / What Democracy Looks Like

Pictured (thanks to Facebook): Mark Lovelace, Humboldt County Supervisor, running for reelection and appearing at a campaign and fundraising event in Humboldt County last week.

This is what democracy looks like: small groups of ordinary people, directly in contact with the persons they decide will represent them. Scenes like this exist in smaller communities everywhere, in California and around the country; this picture could have come from Santa Cruz County, for instance. The problem with our politics today is generally found in what happens in the larger arenas in which elections are held. In these larger political contexts, there is little or no direct and personal contact between the candidates and the voters, and "politics" merges with "advertising," and advertising depends on money.

The people we elect will "be" the government (whether in smaller communities or in larger communities and at the state and federal level). That is the nature of representative democracy. The fact that our elected officials are increasingly removed from any direct contact with ordinary people is a fatal flaw in what we call "democracy" today.

We must either give up on politics or find a practical way to "scale" genuine democracy to the state and national level, and to make it function in larger communities, like Los Angeles. There are some ways to do it, but they all demand that we invest our time in the effort!

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