Certainly the outlook for democracy seems pretty bleak—and how could it be otherwise? The surest way to make a problem worse is to pretend it isn’t there, which is exactly what our press and politicians have been doing; and the rest is, unfortunately, history.
But history can be changed, as We the People have continually learned, from our refusal of colonial subjection, to our (partial) establishment as a democratic republic, to the abolition of slavery, to the enfranchisement of women, to the end of formal segregation and the passage of the Voting Rights Act.
The fact is that We the People are in lousy shape, and must get straight as soon as possible. For we are all addicted to the horse race—and we can’t win, because it’s fixed. And so, before we end up losing everything, we need to pull ourselves together, face the music, and then take all necessary steps to change the tune.
A 12-Step Program to Save US Democracy
1. Repeal the Help America Vote Act (HAVA).
2. Replace all electronic voting with hand-counted paper ballots (HCPB).
Although politicians and the press dismiss this idea as utopian, the people would support it just as overwhelmingly as national health care, strong environmental measures, US withdrawal from Iraq, and other sane ideas.
3. Get rid of computerized voter rolls.
It isn’t just the e-voting machines that are obstructing our self-government. According to USA Today, thousands of Americans have had their names mysteriously purged from the electronic databases now used nationwide as records of our registration.
4. Keep all private vendors out of our elections.
With their commercial interests, trade secrets and unaccountable proceedings, private companies should have no role in the essential process of republican self-government.
Certainly the corporate press will scream about its First Amendment Rights, but they don’t have the right to interfere with our elections. When they declare a winner when we don’t yet even know if the election was legitimate, they delegitimize all audits, recounts and even first counts of the vote as the mere desperate measures of “sore losers.”
6. Set up an exit polling system, publicly supported, to keep the vote-counts honest.