A Brief Disruption In Our Democracy
by Aneesh Nandam
I’ve just taken my last exam as a student, and I feel like that it would be appropriate to discuss some of the things I’ve learned lately and how they relate to the way things have been going in our government recently.
Government has changed drastically in the last 30 some-odd years, and it has changed in a number of dimensions. Those of us in progressive circles know that our elected officials have become unfathomably more conservative over the last few decades. For example, when Ronald Reagan was hired out to the American Medical Association to record a 10 minute vinyl record on the “dangers” of socialized medicine, he claimed that the acceptance of socialized medicine would mean that “pretty soon your son won’t decide when he’s in school, where he will go or what he will do for a living. He will wait for the government to tell him.” When this was recorded, this sort of language was considered completely out of touch.
Today, we’ve all heard much worse spreading of fear, uncertainty, and doubt. While I would argue that most of us still think such statements are completely irrational and even borderline offensive, most of us have exhausted our ability to be shocked by such statements. With the Clinton years, Democrats proved themselves to be just as pro-business as the Republicans and allowed themselves to move towards the right as the corporate oligarchy dragged them along.
Elected officials have also become far less accountable to the citizens of this country. They’ve managed to do this by doing their best to not take any substantive stances on anything. They don’t make decisions anymore – they just run a bargaining table and implement whatever compromise gets hashed out. If elected officials don’t make any decisions, it’s harder for the public to blame them for doing something they never did. If the people at the bargaining table are the ones responsible for making decisions, then the question to ask is who sits at the bargaining table? The 1% sist at that table. The 1% contributes the big checks for political campaigns. For a lot of politicians, they’ve become to only votes that count when it comes to making decisions.
This isn’t the way things have always been, but as someone who has just finished college, I’m too young to have known anything else. Despite this, I know that our country has not always been this way. In the past, government has been responsive to the public interest and has curtailed the power of business interests to intervene in our democracy destroy the very fabric of our communities.
However, elected officials will not act on their own. We have to move them and force them to act. By organizing our communities around these issues we believe are important, the power of the people will manifest itself in direct action and will force our officials to respond to us. We will force elected officials to stop running a bargaining process where the 1% wins. We will make our elected officials make moral choices in accordance with the values of the public.
Not only will we be able to move our elected officials to make choices in accordance with the values of the public, but we will stop the political discourse from continuing to be pulled to the right as a result of the intrusion of corporate interests in democratic process. Though I’ve never seen it myself, I have faith that by organizing, we will achieve what we’re striving to accomplish.