by Peter Theis
Regardless of political affiliation, great numbers of citizens in this country are angry at and frustrated by the political process. In his book Democracy Inc, Sheldon Wolin argues our once somewhat representative form of democracy has now morphed into "inverted totalitarianism," where the United States "has become the showcase of how democracy can be managed without appearing to be suppressed."
This is precisely why American citizens feel their voices are not being heard. The "power elite," as C. Wright Mills calls the interwoven interests of the military, corporate, and political leaders in society -- through the use of fear, distraction, and the constant labeling of the government that is supposed to serve them as the "enemy" -- have greatly suppressed the American public's participation in the political process.
Or, as the comedian George Carlin succinctly put it: "Americans are meant to feel free by the exercise of meaningless choice. You know what the choices are in this country? Paper or plastic, aisle or window, smoking or no smoking."
Wikipedia generally defines Democracy "as a form of government in which all the people have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives. Ideally, this includes equal (and more or less direct) participation in the proposal, development and passage of legislation into law. It can also encompass social, economic and cultural conditions that enable the free and equal practice of political self-determination."
"Democracy," Wolin writes, "is about the conditions that make it possible for ordinary people to better their lives by becoming political beings and by making power responsive to their hopes and needs."
The Occupy Wall Street and the Occupy Together (OccupyTogether.Org) movements are exactly that. A form of direct democracy carried out through consensus:
* There is no hierarchy; all organization is horizontal; no one is a leader, and everyone is a leader.
* Everyone is included, has a voice, and directly participates in the political process.
* Everyone works together to come to a decision that everyone can support.
Democracy is not granted to us by those in power. It exists when we the people make it happen. And the Occupy Together movement is an example of democracy at its best.