THE ONLY NEW IDEA IN POLITICS
"Thinking Outside The Direct-Election Box"
James F. Caldwell
The future of democracy, world-wide, depends on the extent to which people are able to break with long held but now outdated preconceptions and grasp the significance of new concepts. This state of affairs has come to pass because the corrupting power of money in politics has transformed large-scale direct elections into a pseudo-democratic charade. No one with even a passing interest in the news of the day can escape the conclusion that government is powerless to protect the interests of the people as a whole. Almost daily, some new scandal breaks into the headlines confirming that the ruling oligarchy of corporate interests has corrupted democratic government utterly. With every new outrage, at hastily convened news conferences, politicians reassure us of their determination to remedy those very evils that they have made not only possible, but in many cases, perfectly legal through legislation they have either championed outright or else to which they have acquiesced. There is no cause for alarm; the public can safely return to the somnambular distractions of sitcoms, sports, alcohol, and soaps. In the mean time, the standard of living of average working people continues to decline while the plight of the poor and defenseless grows ever more hopelessly desperate.
The first order of business in politics is to assess accurately and precisely where you fit in the scheme of things. And since most people these days are confused about politics, perhaps the following rule of thumb will prove helpful: If you are one of the top tier of Americans regularly seen at $1,000 and up per plate political fund raising dinners, then you are probably a member of the predator class. Everyone else, including you and me are nothing more than prey-items on the menu. This is true regardless of party affiliation, ideological persuasion, race, age, sex, or veteran's status. Any discussion about rights as a citizen, that does not take this reality into consideration is purely delusional. Political campaign contributions are best understood as bids for franchise rights to exploit one or another group of prey-items, collectively known as average citizens. As an American, your net worth determines your position in the food chain. People who don't understand where they fit in the scheme of things frequently begin their lamentations with "I thought America was supposed to be a democracy, so how can X,Y,Z be happening?" Such a statement merely indicates that a prey-item citizen has failed accurately to assess his or her relative position in the food chain. It is an expression of surprise at being eaten by someone or, more likely, by some multinational corporation, who belongs to the predator class. When you wake up in the morning, nothing can compare with that first whiff of recognition that fresh coffee is brewing and you're what's for breakfast. For everyone who is already awake, please be advised of the following:
Direct elections are a trap,
from which there is no escape - PERIOD!
If you do not like being a prey-item, there are only three things you can do about it. The first is to join the predator class by becoming a multi-millionaire and contributing heavily to both sides in election campaigns. This will work only one or two times out of several thousand. The second is to whine, wring your hands, participate in the political process, and wait for someone to come along who will save you from being eaten. That's like a cow waiting to be slaughtered whose best plan is to stand by the gate and hope someone will let her out. The third is to work to make America a real democracy where government is truly of, by, and for the people. Obviously, this is the only option open to real Americans who love freedom and are willing to fight for it.
A correct assessment of the condition of democracy in the United States, and indeed in the entire world, requires making a distinction between democratic process and democratic outcome. Democratic process means that a government is constituted according to a set of procedures bearing the designation of democratic procedures. However, if these democratic procedures do not result in a government which expresses the will of the people, in other words, a democratic outcome, that government is not a democracy, regardless of whether so called democratic election procedures are followed. This is the condition that exists in the United States today. We have democratic procedures, but we do not have a democratic outcome. The real constituency of our elected officials is the moneyed interests who paid their way into office. Consequently, American government only expresses the will of The American People whenever the will of the people is not in conflict with the interests of "Big Money." Consent of the governed has come to mean that virtually any government policy is allowable and defensible as democratic which falls short of provoking armed insurrection.
In America especially, people see and hear only those candidates and issues that multinational corporations, including the multinational corporate media, wants the American people to see and hear. Freedom of speech continues to exist because, looking down from penthouses, Big Money knows it has nothing to fear from a few little people with bullhorns standing on soapboxes. Big Money also knows it is impossible to consistently defeat its interests through large-scale direct elections. Unfortunately, people are conditioned to believe that no form of democracy is possible other than large-scale direct elections. If people don't think outside the large-scale direct election box, democracy is finished.
If you want to know what the direct election box looks like, go to: http://www.aceproject.org/main/english/. This is the most comprehensive discussion of democracy on the Internet. The reason that Big Money continues to control elections is simple: All thinking about electoral reform is based on the false assumption that direct elections, of necessity, are more democratic than indirect elections:
On the contrary, indirect elections, instruments of semi-direct democracy, limitations to voting so that it is not universal or non-competitive, and single-party elections are inadmissible as options.
Here the ACE Project arbitrarily lumps indirect elections in with patently ant-democratic practices such as non-competitive and single party elections. Ironically, "non-competitive" and "single party" are terms that accurately depict the so-called "two party system" in America. The two parties are really only two factions of the same pro-wealth party. They might as well be called "The Republicrats" or something similar. All further thinking at the ACE Project is limited to whatever remains as options within the direct election box. Consequently, because in large-scale direct elections, only those voices with large-scale financial backing can ever reach the electorate, Big Money will always have the clear upper hand. No solutions to the problem of how to defeat the power of Big Money will ever be found within the direct election box. Even the comprehensive ACE Project website has no answer for how to protect direct elections from corruption by money: http://www.aceproject.org/main/english/pc/pcd.htm.
The result is an unlevel playing field (http://www.aceproject.org/main/english/pc/pc21.htm)
that makes real democracy impossible.
An indirect election system can defeat the power of Big Money because a large-scale indirect election can be built up from small-scale direct elections. These direct elections can be conducted on a scale so small that the corrupting power of money is far less important than the power of grass-roots face-to-face democracy. In Pyramid Democracy, the first level of the election pyramid consists of voters meeting face to face with candidates who wish to represent them at the precinct level. Candidates and voters discuss issues of importance, and voters decide which candidate represents their best interests. A candidate who receives a minimum of 50 votes becomes a representative at the second level convention. At the second level convention, representatives from the first level attempt to gain the support of at least 50 representatives in order to be selected to the third level convention. Thus, each representative at the third level represents a minimum of 50 X 50 voters, in other words, a minimum of 2,500 voters. This process can be repeated as many times as necessary to accommodate the size of the election in question. A representative selected in this manner would have been nominated by the people at the grass roots level, and confirmed as a representative by representatives of representatives of the people, not multi-national corporations and other financially powerful special interests.
Because in direct elections, each voter has the opportunity to vote directly for the candidate who will assume office, this would appear to be the most democratic form of voting. Two decisive objections may be raised against this assumption. First, large-scale direct elections overwhelmingly favor those with large campaign budgets over those with small ones, and second, direct elections reduce the voting populace to the status of passive consumers of whatever policies the contending political parties offer:
No electoral system may properly bear the name of democracy unless (1) the electorate does Nominate, is in control of the nomination process, (2) the electorate is able to Legislate, is able easily to initiate legislation, (3) the electorate is able to Rule, to enforce its own legislative initiatives once they become law.
The irony is that indirect democracy, because it is far more resistant to corruption by moneyed interests, fulfills the fundamental requirement that an election results in a democratic outcome. Furthermore, at PowerDemocracy.org you will find that in addition to protecting elections from corruption by Big Money, Pyramid Democracy also provides for grass-roots control of the election system, allows the voters to nominate their representatives directly, increases voter turnout, incorporates policy input from the voters into the election process, defeats gerrymandering, insures proportional representation, and provides for swift removal of corrupt or incompetent elected officials:
see downloads: Pyramid Democracy Prototype
If you are a person with a perceptive mind and you examine the PowerDemocracy.org website, from the various documents you will see how the power of money can be defeated. The future of democracy lies with Power Democracy. As the Aceproject.org website demonstrates, no reforms are possible within the context of direct election systems. Wherever Big Money controls government through its ability to corrupt direct elections, Big Money has no incentive to relinquish power. Furthermore, the cost of large-scale direct elections insures that democratic forces can never wrest control of government away from the power of Big Money. Democratic institutions will be overthrown in every country where the power of money is able to corrupt the election process.
In place or real democracy, direct elections allow establishment of a pseudo-democracy in which all important decision making power resides with financially powerful special interests. Democratic reform measures such as initiative, recall, and referendum plebiscite function as safety valves for channeling political dissent into single-issue causes. Because they are mere palliatives, these measures produce narrowly circumscribed reforms that do not threaten the power of the ruling constellation of moneyed anti-democratic interests. Once the reform is enacted, the opposition forces soon begin the process of undermining whatever they don't like about the legislation. Eventually, they are able to stand the intent of reform legislation on its head and ultimately press it into the service of their own special interests. This is the end result of virtually every federal regulatory commission. Their other tactic is to use these reform mechanisms to fund so-called "reform campaigns" to initiate government actions that are counter to the best interests of the people at large. Here the power of moneyed interests to conduct disinformation campaigns is often able to overwhelm citizens groups, armed with only a shoe string budget who try to oppose these pseudo grass-roots initiatives. The result is that a confused and deliberately misled electorate often supports political initiatives antagonistic to their own best interests.
Similarly, term limits favor moneyed special interests over the long run. This is because it is difficult to achieve the necessary name recognition required to run for office without considerable financial backing. When a charismatic natural leader emerges from among the people who is able to achieve name recognition sufficient to launch a viable election campaign, that person can only remain in office for the time allowed by the term limit statute. The moneyed opposition forces will be able thereafter to launch a well-financed campaign to achieve name recognition for their candidate, whereas the forces of popular democracy will have to start from scratch with a new candidate and a campaign budget dwarfed by that of the opposition.
The most heralded reform, campaign finance reform, has yet to be successful in any country where financial resources constitute an advantage at the poles. As the Aceproject.org website admits, attempts at campaign finance reform have led to a never-ending series of reforms and reforms of reforms wherever it has been attempted. The reason for this is simple: Wherever having money constitutes a winning advantage, those who are determined to win will find a way of getting the money and gaining the advantage, by fair means or foul. Money will always flow to those who are best able to serve its interests, including politicians, regardless of what barriers are erected to impede its natural movement. The only way to reduce the power of money to corrupt democratic elections is to reduce the ability of money to impact the election. The only way to accomplish that is to reduce the scale of the election sufficiently so that other forces, such as face to face interaction between voters and candidates, is stronger than the corrupting power of money. Only indirect pyramid elections are capable of reducing the power of money to corrupt elections.
Without pyramid elections, democracy has no means of defeating the corrupting power of money, in other words, democracy has no future at all. The future of democracy is the future of Power Democracy. The only person who can bring that future into being is you. Because the concept of pyramid democracy is new to most people, they will only accept it when it is explained to them by someone they trust. Generally speaking, people will cling to an outmoded idea they feel comfortable with rather than embrace a workable idea that is unfamiliar to them. The good news is that the overwhelming majority of people are in favor of pyramid elections once the concept is explained to them. This usually takes less than thirty minutes. It is imperative that those able to grasp the significance of the Power Democracy concept unite with like-minded souls and spread the message of pyramid elections to as many people as possible as quickly as possible. Once the Power Democracy concept becomes commonly known and discussed, it will produce a powerful political force for grass-roots control of government at every level. Join and promote Power Democracy!
To bind up and heal the wounds of the nation, will require more than mere structural changes in the election system. Every American must examine his or her heart and answer the question: "To what extent do we love our neighbors as ourselves?" Indifference to the needs and suffering of others is the root of all violence in society. Among the advanced industrialized nations of the world, there is none more violent than The United States. Power Democracy must begin as a call for all Americans to treat each other as good neighbors and care about the least of our citizens as if they were our own brothers and sisters.
There can be no room for violence against people or against property in the movement to establish power democracy. The great American visionary, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (http://www.thekingcenter.com/) saw clearly the necessity for non-violence to be the guiding principle of any social movement hoping to bring into being a truly just and caring social order. Those who currently abuse positions of power and privilege are human beings no less deserving of compassion than those who suffer under their oppression and indifference. We must help those who now turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to the suffering of others to realize the truth of the pain they inflict upon their fellow human beings. The Power Democracy Movement must promote understanding and forgiveness of those who now hold the reins of power. We must be ever vigilant, forever looking over our own shoulders, less we be seduced by those very temptations and abuses to which the present ruling elite have fallen victim. Love can never be born out of hate; neither can compassion be born of retribution. Violence and retribution can only poison all that is good our movement. Consequently, only those who are committed to the principles of non-violence may participate in the Power Democracy Movement.