Democracy, even such as is seen in Congress, is an accurate reflection of what happens outside, not inside, the voting booths.
Democracy does not derive a mandate from the consent of the governed, at all, but from the suffrage of the active. The vote has always been, it has been made more and more clear in our eye-opening times, just the scrap thrown to the gullible from the porcine table of Power.
To get scriptural even further, the vote, in our day, has become the "mess of pottage" we have traded for our birthright of popular power.
Of course, in getting so many of the American people to settle for so litltle, granted: many there have been to tie our hands behind us, but where there are two of us gathered together, we can unloose those bonds.
And sure, the neo-cons, with plenty of help, have, with the Money Party Perennial, trumped us lovers of "democracy" by papering over all our walls, and the majority of our ballots, and the writing thereon, each, and every, with their endless bucks, and the bogus legislation derived from that scamming process as "add-on" wallpaper, but popular action always trumps money action, when fully engaged, and the transmission in "drive."
Look before, behind, and around us, in history: Gandhi said ( the citation is the great voice over by Ben Kingsley at the end of the epic flick ) that tyrants ALWAYS fall before such popular power.
So, in fact, in Truth, in function, and in essence, Democracy is really, and always, a Meritocracy. I think every one who really has looked deeply into that, from Twain to Mencken, to Gore Vidal, would accept that definition. Even Jefferson said, and often, that the government that is elected depends on the worth and wisdom of the electorate, directly. And immediately. Of course, he could not have foreseen how deeply, either, that will and that worth has been choked off by the weed we see around us, where the dollar dresses up in the drag of Democracy.
Democracy, and its fruits ( we were talking about the rather over-ripe fruit of our Congress, I believe ) literally, does not come from the dropping of pebbles in an urn, but the magnification of the vote through the focused passion of relentless action: too much asphalt travelled since Athens two millennia and a half ago, for pebbles, or paper on its own, to do the trick. It would be nice to have our pebbles and ballots counted, but you can't trace democracy through a paper trail, but only along such action trails as "The Salt March" of Gandhi, where such actions are the dramatizations of popular will.
Howard Zinn and Noam Chomsky have both pointed out to those who will hear them, and as have many others in smaller forums, that democracy only comes from the expansion of the will of the people through personal action, and not at the polls. The purity of the vote is only a reflection of that, at various times. A by-product. I've come to think it's maybe the last thing that results from large movements, though not to be uncounted.
Power, of any human kind, has always needed an actual energy source, and dropping a ballot in a box, one without windows at that, simply does not provide sufficient wattage. It is dim, too dim, and it has been put on an actual "dimmer switch" with each passing election.
Granted, the intent of "dimming the vote" by corporate, proprietary, voting companies, with the aid of their reductive gadgets, has had the effect of disenfranchising "voters," but any voter can reclaim that vote by direct action and the most civil kind of disobedience: striking, organizing, refusing to participate in such lies. Any voter can magnify the lost or uncounted vote many times. That is my hopeful message, at least, and I believe it.
Like parallel governments, we must be our own Congress. And when our din and devotion has attained critical mass, we will know we have arrived.
And, now, we can't really entirely blame Congress: they are doing more, pound for pound, than the upper ten percentile of Americans. Granted, most of what they are doing is absurd and unresponsive, but at least they're DOING something.
As I write this, I believe I'm doing something. Four years ago next month, I decided that, instead of crying over the spilt milk of voting fraud, I was going to send the alert as far and wide as I could see, or imagine. I started pounding away at the keyboard, and within a few months I'd been invited on a radio program by a man who had gotten passed the first legislation in the country banning DREs. I had no idea at the time I accepted his invitation who he was, only that he communicated well in his emails. I rang him up at the station, only to be asked to hold while he finished interviewing Wayne Madsen. Madsen was breaking one of the stories of the decade, the one that usually carries Brad Friedman's name: how Clint Curtis had discovered criminal intent in voting adjustments in South Florida, and how Ray Lemme had called him to say he'd traced it to the top, then died "mysteriously" shortly thereafter in Valdosta, Gerogia. Daniel Ellsberg and Sibel Edmonds were also regular guests on this same show.
I felt, by the time I got off the line, an hour later, and had told the host, Jim Hogue, about my area of inquiry: how Hart InterCivic "voting" machine manufacturers had been given a hundred million bucks to crank out these lewd gizmos called eSlates, the eSlot Machines of voting, by the Bush statehouse in Austin, and so forth.
Though still steaming mad, I felt by the time we had disengaged the line that I had taken back the power of the vote that they had unplugged in my life, and the lives of my loved ones.