The 2nd reason to fix our democracy is so you, our elected representatives, will make the process to select and elect you and your decisions on all issues, properly serve our public interests.
This episode is directed directly to those we have elected to represent us - we the people - in Congress and covers the following:
Reason #2 to Fix Our Democracy - To repair our broken political system so it will provide us with proper representation
Hello. I’m Rick Hubbard and this is the second in a series of podcasts during my walk across the United States.
The entire series is titled “Reasons to Fix Our Democracy,” and each podcast highlights “another reason to fix our democracy”.
In today’s podcast, I am speaking directly to those we have elected to represent us in Congress.
Let’s talk about your job - first in a broad sense.
Those of you who represent us in Congress took an oath and swore that you would “support and defend the Constitution of the United States” and that you would “well and faithfully discharge” your duties.
The Preamble of our U.S. Constitution expresses those duties: “to form a more perfect union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity”.
Your job is to address the biggest issues common to all of us, and after much analysis and debate, make policy and create in law, systems that most economically, efficiently, and sustainably address each of these issue areas to serve our common good.
If you do your job properly, we individuals, our communities, states, and nation will thrive, and be an important, positive influence on all others beyond our borders.
But for too long, too many of you have not been doing your job properly.
Because of this, as measured in many ways, our nation is on a downward path.
Large percentages of our people work a full work week, yet have zero savings and inadequate protection when medical and other emergencies arise.
When tens of millions of Americans are just a paycheck away from financial distress, they are not in control of their lives. This undermines the stability of our country. These Americans are justifiably anxious, angry, and more easily divided.
Consequently, the second reason to fix our democracy is so you, our elected representatives, will make the very process by which we select and elect you, and the decisions on issues you thereafter make, properly serve our common public interests.
We the people benefit when that process is fair and impartial, inclusive, competitive, and responsive to our common good.
But today, our political system has become compromised, many would say corrupted, and a majority of you that we have elected to represent our public good are not properly doing your job.
Our two major political parties act like two warring Super Bowl teams, each doing everything they can to win.
There’s a big problem with this.
In football, the goal is to win.
But in politics, the job of those who win, is to govern well on behalf of us all.
This has not been happening properly, and we the people know it.
Doing your job properly requires each of you to speak out about how the structure and financing of our political system is not serving the very people it is designed to serve.
Doing your job properly also requires each of you to speak out about the best ways to reform it, even when it’s against your own personal re-election interests and those of your political party.
For we know that unless you repeatedly say why the structure and financing of our political process works against the common good of we the people, the media will not amplify this.
And amplifying these problems and discussing reforms is essential for most people to begin to hear, think about, and decide how our political system’s many broken parts might best be fixed.
I am in the early stages of a walk from the west coast to our capitol in D.C. I write this in my 10th week of walking. This walk so far totals over 520 miles in California, Nevada, and Arizona.
During this time, I have had conversations with many people of all ideologies.
Here’s how bad it is
Would you be shocked to hear I have yet to meet a single person who believes our political system, as currently structured and financed, serves the common good of we the people and our nation?
If you doubt this conclusion of mine and ordinary Americans, perhaps you’d like to hear it from an expert or two.
Michael Porter, a Harvard based and world renown expert on competition and strategy in industries and nations, encountered politics while trying to advise governments and advocate sensible and proven reforms.
Interestingly, it was a woman, Katherine Gehl, a business leader and former CEO with a passion for reforming our political system, who convinced Michael to use his expertise in collaboration with her to examine our politics industry as he would any other industry.
Here are a few of their conclusions.
“Our political system isn’t broken. Washington is delivering exactly what it is currently designed to deliver. The real problem is that our political system is no longer designed to serve the public interest.”
Think about the implications of that - Our present political system isn’t designed to serve us - we the people. The very people our Constitution intended to serve.
They go on to report:
Seldom have we needed proper representation more than we do now.
The problem is, we’re not getting much of it.
Which is why we need to fix it.
Our present political system dysfunction
Our present political system is designed to divide us and to divert us from accurately assessing the job we elected our representatives to do.
Our U.S. Senate has adopted rules allowing a minority of Senators to block action on matters supported by the majority of Senators and most Americans.
The opposing party takes advantage of this so it can run for re-election on the fact that the party in control can’t get anything done.
What does such self-serving behavior have to do with actually governing? With enacting laws on matters important to our common good?
It doesn’t, and it continues to weaken our nation.
The reforms we need
It’s time to change this behavior. Our country has been damaged enough, and it has led too many of us to question whether democracy can survive.
This means placing our collective citizen interests above your personal interests in getting re-elected, over those of your biggest campaign donors, over those of your political party, over those of the consultant class who help you stay in office, and over those of the media who receive huge payments for running political ads that affect your getting elected.
How many of you are up to that task?
Will you stand up?
So, I ask each of you?
Are you willing to stand up and tell those you represent the following:
I could go on, but I’m sure you get the idea.
If you are an elected representative willing to do your job as discussed above, congratulations. You are doing the right thing and deserve the full support of we the people.
But if you are unwilling to speak out about improving our political system to serve all of us, then know that public pressure is mounting to vote you out of office for not properly doing the job you agreed to do when you took your oath of office.
I hope I have given you something to think about.
And I hope that many, perhaps even most of you, will choose the path that best serves our people and our nation.
Now we have one more reason to fix our democracy - to make the very process by which we elect our representatives, and the decisions on issues they then make on our behalf, properly serve our common public interests.
Lastly, I speak directly to you, my fellow citizens, to tell you it’s time to DO something about this. Go to my website, FixOurDemocracy.us to sign up, and to find supporting state groups. Write your Congressperson and let them know how the system should be reformed. Start a walk in your town. The road is long, but we can and must fix our democracy.
Brennan Center For Justice, 2021-11-6 - Tim Las, The Filibuster Explained, https://www.brennancenter.org/our-work/research-reports/filibuster-explained
Why Competition in the Politics Industry is Failing America, by Katherine M. Gehl and Michael E. Porter. https://www.hbs.edu/competitiveness/Documents/why-competition-in-the-politics-industry-is-failing-america.pdf
Takeaways About Money in the Midterms, The Brennan Center for Justice. https://www.brennancenter.org/our-work/analysis-opinion/4-takeaways-about-money-midterms
Majority of Americans say they won’t donate to 2020 presidential campaigns, CNBC and Acorns Invest in You Spending Survey. https://www.cnbc.com/2019/06/28/majority-of-americans-wont-donate-to-2020-presidential-campaigns.html