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Back to the Future: Democracy that Works

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NOTE: This article was written for publication in the soon-to-be-released book, Loser Take All: Election Fraud and the Subversion of Democracy, 2000-2008 (Paperback)
by New York Times bestselling author, Mark Crispin Miller.

You can read about the book and pre-order a copy at

Back to the Future: Democracy that Works, By Nancy Tobi

The United States of America is a democratic republic, a system of governance that derives its power from the people. This is every citizen's birthright, protected by free, fair, and open elections, owned and operated by We the People.

Private corporations have laid claim to our birthright since the 1978 Supreme Court decision giving corporations First Amendment "rights" to influence political campaigns.

Corporations didn't stop with political campaigns. They've made significant inroads into the actual drafting and passage of our laws and, most treacherously, in running our elections.

Against this backdrop we can understand what's wrong with our election systems, and how to repair them. We'll examine the smoke and the mirrors behind 21st century election reform. We'll recall lessons from our national heritage and from the State of New Hampshire, whose Constitution was the first written and second ratified in the country, and whose foundational traditions of grassroots democracy continue to flourish to this day.

We'll reveal the man behind the curtain of 21st century election reform efforts, and the response from the election reform movement. We'll define baseline tests for democratic elections, by which we measure election reform initiatives to ensure they protect and don't harm our American birthright. We'll see reform initiatives that pass and fail these tests. We'll conclude with an election reform solution that meets the tests for democratic elections, and of which our visionary and revolutionary founders could be proud.

Election Reform Sleight of Hand in the 21st Century

Watching federal election reform efforts in 21st century America is a lot like watching a high tech magic show. The audience suspends disbelief while wizards on stage pull rabbits out of hats.

Cynical Americans today scowl as public servants take lobbyist money with one hand and pass legislation with the other, legislation they know rarely supports the needs of the American people.

But election reform is a different animal altogether. There are two lethal differences between election reform and all other Capital Hill sleight of hand legislation :

1) Elections drive the American dream of democracy. If we break something in our elections, our democratic republic is at risk.

2) The audience in the election reform magic show, far from cynical, eagerly agrees to suspend their disbelief. This idealistic audience desperately wants to believe the magic is really working.

Americans believe in the magic of election reform because we are, at heart, an idealistic people. We believe in the American democratic dream of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We can't fathom that private corporations now control our elections and have subverted our democracy. With roughly 80% of the nation's votes counted in secret by private corporations (1), we dare not ponder if America is even a democracy anymore.

The idea that we may have already lost our democracy is more than the average American can bear. Idealistic activists are eager to accept election reform illusions over the challenging reality of corporate controlled elections.

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