What will it take to stir the American people into action, get us out of our collective lethargy, our passivity in the face of what is happening and get our country on a path of renewal?
The worst economic calamity since the 1930's depression didn't do it. The worst ecological disaster in the Gulf of Mexico didn't do it.
We're bogged down in an unnecessary war in Afghanistan and it seemingly brings mostly a collective yawn by most people.
We're supposed to be getting out of Iraq, but we're still leaving 50,000 troops there. Iraq is not Germany, South Korea or Japan (all countries we continue to station troops). We completely disabled Iraq politically, militarily, socially and economically with a trumped up preemptive invasion and inept occupation and the "surge" have done little to establish political reconciliation among the various indigenous religious and ethnic groups (remember that was the primary objective presented to us at the time) of the country. Five months (and counting) after Iraqi's went to the polls to elect a new prime minister all sides remain fractious and suspicious of each other and unable to agree on forming some type of coalition government. In this situation, how likely is it for our 50,000 troops remaining in Iraq will be withdrawn by the end of 2011, (the agreed upon date for complete withdrawal)?
Getting back to our domestic situation, unemployment hovers close to 10% officially (closer to 20% when you count part time workers unable to find full work, those who have exhausted their unemployment benefits and those who have stopped looking) while foreclosures are still accelerating as more people lose their jobs and are forced out of their homes. Wall Street may have recovered but Main Street where most people reside is still suffering.
The Congress is all but dysfunctional, polarized and partisan with Republican obstructionism their primary method of conducting legislative activity. Other than tax cuts and fits of pique over the deficit they contribute nothing of value. And in The Senate with its arcane rules and procedures the Republicans 41 seat minority essentially dictates the legislative outcome of the body. The filibuster rule (requiring 60 votes to end debate and call for a vote) needs only to be threatened by this minority bloc and any legislative proposal is stopped in its tracks. So much for majority rule; call it tyranny of the minority!
The Supreme Court, in its 5 to 4 decision in the "Citizens United" case in January basically unleashed corporate funding to completely influence election outcomes. It gave corporations the same status as people in an unprecedented ruling that threatens the fundamental nature of our representative democracy.
There are moves afoot calling for an amendment to the Constitution to overrule the "Citizens United" ruling and there's pending legislation called the "Fair Elections Now Act" (and supported by some 150 House members) now bottled up in committee.
Which leads directly to the heart of what is needed, citizens funded elections.
A group called Change-Congress.org headed by Lawrence Lessig as its primary spokesman has the key (in the mind of this observer) to the fundamental change necessary for the American people to retake our democracy and get a Congress that acts in the interests of the American people (and not to the benefit of the big moneyed corporate and special interests).
Corporate money and the chase for it by our lawmakers is corrupting our election process and influencing the legislative agenda so completely, there exists the critical need for a major overhaul of the current system. Citizen funded elections, which would preclude corporate funding is THE necessary reform vehicle that can transform this country.
The outsized dominance of corporate money, whose influence essentially dictates and reigns supreme in this country must be ended.
Citizens funding of elections should be seen as a truly bipartisan issue for liberals as well as conservatives to rally around.
Only "we the people", act in our capacity as the true defenders and protectors of our democracy are capable of taking back our country (away from the dominance of big corporate interests that now prevails to benefit them).
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