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Membership in the Demos, Privilege Verses Obligation
It would be a requirement that every of-age, able
citizen must be an actively voting member of the demos. Being
a member of the demos could not be a privilege but would have to be a civic obligation. Participation would bring a significant reward, and
non-participation would bring a significant penalty.
This requirement would be absolutely necessary
for the demos to function properly. It would only be by every
adult member of the society actively pursuing his or her self-interest in the demos that the demos
could arrive at a true consensus of the entire electorate on the
demos issues. Only partial participation by the electorate would skew the
consensus of the demos away from the interests of those in the electorate who did not participate.
The wide-ranging apathy and lack of voter turnouts in American elections today
have several causes. Millions of people don’t vote as a protest against the current system. Millions of people correctly believe that the game is a rigged scam
anyway. No matter who gets elected they will go unheard, and the rich will just get richer.
They have not dropped out as a protest. They have just thrown in the towel. Millions of people are simply working too hard and racing about too fast just to survive to muster up the time and will to vote.
Many people find the process of traveling here and there at different times and
standing in line for registration and later for voting to be difficult and
tedious. Many people find cunningly-worded referendums too difficult to
understand and find it difficult to vote for candidates they really don’t know
In having taken most of
our nation’s wealth from the rest of the populace, the wealthy are
actually a minority group. How does this minority group manage to win
In a previous chapter we
discussed how our current electoral system overwhelmingly favors the
wealthy in two fundamental ways: Our electoral district system in which
only one candidate is elected within each district strongly favors the
wealthy. And our elections are left to a marketplace, mass media, and two
political parties that are all owned and operated by the wealthy.
Using their vast
resources—the mass media they own and corporate and government seats of
power—as moneyed megaphones and bully pulpits, wealthy elites play the
ignorance, fears, hatreds, angers, and divisions of the rest of the
populace like a violin to further their own political purposes. They
actively manipulate the minds of people to confuse them and get them to
vote against their own self-interests. The elite strive to keep the
populace politically asleep, distracted, and divided. The principal party
of the wealthy promotes itself as a large tent, tossing bones to poor
religious and other moral conservatives by cynically focusing on lesser
“hot button” issues while avoiding public discussion of how much of
our nation’s wealth is hoarded by the few and their incessant class warfare against
the rest of the populace.
In addition to effectively disenfranchising the
rest of the electorate by an electoral system that is a set of loaded dice that
overwhelmingly favors the wealthy, our government imposes a huge amount of
An inherent part of a government’s claim
to legitimacy is that all native born and naturalized members of the populace
living under it are defined as citizens and all of-age, able citizens are defined as members of its electorate with the inalienable right and
the civic duty to vote. To achieve the
consensus of the entire electorate and the honest representation of all of its
members that true democracy requires, each member of the electorate must
hold and exercise real political power
by participating directly within the government.
America currently has millions of adult citizens that are not allowed to
vote. This shameful immorality is part of our government’s current
mal-distribution of political power. No political system that practices
disenfranchisement, i.e., taking away a citizen’s right to vote, is truly
a democracy. No government that practices disenfranchisement is legitimate.
Disenfranchisement of any citizen by any means for any reason is immoral and
must be made unconstitutional.
Imprisonment and disenfranchisement are
often used to politically castrate and silence one’s enemies and those with
opposing views. The poor and innocents are often imprisoned and disenfranchised
while the well-heeled, often guilty of far greater immorality and crimes against
far more people, buy and enjoy a vastly better level of protection,
representation, ‘justice’, freedom, and the continued right to vote.
Poverty, crime, and imprisonment are rampant
in our current plutocracy. There is no shortage of people who see and lament the
injustice of our current system. While
some of the people in our prisons really belong there, too many people are in
prisons that do not belong there. And too many people, particularly those who
commit high-level, white-collar crimes, crimes committed by the wealthy, are not
imprisoned who should be. Our prisons are overpopulated and clogged up with harmless people who have committed victimless ‘crimes’. They have never
harmed anyone but have only broken one law or another that should and would not
have been written in the first place in a more honest and truly democratic
society. In essence, such people are imprisoned for
political rather than criminal reasons.
By constitutional law, a citizen’s
membership in the electorate and right and
duty to vote should not be taken away for any reason, not even for
imprisonment or for committing the vilest crimes or political offenses.
Protecting the voting rights and duties of the worst among us protects all of us
and makes true democracy possible.
given the previous discussion, prisoners and people convicted of felonies would
also be included in the electorate and participate in the demos.
To these orchestrations
and manipulations we also add the elite’s most cynical and important
tool of all: When it comes to the millions of people who do not vote, do
nothing. Let sleeping dogs lie. Perhaps say a few empty words about voting
to look good, mostly encouraging those people whom the wealthy want to
vote, but never make voting an obligation for everyone, a civic duty. That would be an
abomination, political suicide. The wealthy, powerful few well know that
it is mostly the poor, the uneducated, the dispirited, and the
disenfranchised who do not vote. And these are precisely the people who, if
they ever did vote, would vote against the interests of the elite who own
and populate our government. This is one Pandora’s Box—the millions
who do not vote—that throughout our nation’s history the elite has
definitely wanted to keep closed.
By these methods—by tossing obscene
amounts of money at an inherently crooked electoral system, by the wealthy
minority itself faithfully voting, by manipulating enough misguided poor
people into voting for wealth-serving candidates and interests, by
disenfranchisement, and by keeping voting a mere right rather than making
it a civic duty—the powerful, wealthy minority manages to win elections.
To those among the economically weak and
downtrodden, to those among the dispirited middle class, and to all right-minded
others who have abandoned the political arena, it is quite understandable, your
turning your back upon and walking away from a political-economic process the
power of which is set so overwhelmingly against you. It is understandable, your
withdrawing into your own cocoons and burying your heads into the sand saying, “I
know the world is unjust and corrupt, but it’s too large a problem for me to
fix. I can, however, create my own little world, achieve at least some of my
dreams, help in my own way, and create a little pocket of sanity.” Well and
But in neglecting and avoiding the political arena you have abdicated your
power and your responsibility as an American citizen and as a citizen of the
world. As Edmond Burke wrote, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of
evil is for good men to do nothing.” It is time for you to pick up the ball again and to reenter the game.
Please give this work serious consideration. It offers a new way and a new hope
that have never existed before in your lifetime. While participation in the
current system may seem meaningless and fruitless, the new system offered in
this work brings to you new and real political and personal power. Learning and
then teaching what is really wrong with America and working to bringing true
democracy to America is worthy of your support and participation.
A newly implemented demos would die a quick death in the face of
today’s widespread apathy. It would degenerate into merely another plutocratic branch of government, just like the current three.
Understanding which side their bread is buttered on and the importance of
voting, the wealthy would vote while too many others would not, skewing the
demos consensus in favor of the wealthy. It would take time for people to realize that the demos
represented a whole new ball
game, that within the demos their votes really counted and had a real effect on the social contract and the resulting society in which they live.
They would soon learn not only to cherish their right to vote but also learn how
easy it is to vote and express arguments and opinions about issues in the demos.
Merely saying that participation in the
demos is an obligation would not be enough. There would have to be significant reward for participation and significant penalty for non-participation. There
would have to be both a carrot and a stick. A reward, the carrot, could be that each member of the electorate in good standing
received one hundred dollars each year. One hundred dollars might mean little to wealthy people, but mostly they are not the ones who need to be motivated.
The penalty, the stick, would not have to be draconian. People would not have to be hung on
dungeon walls by their thumbs.
The penalty could be that no government entitlement or handout would
be granted or license for this or that issued to a member of the demos whose
votes were not current, i.e., one had not recast one’s votes sometime
during the last year. Since voting terminals would exist everywhere including in
virtually every government office, a voter could quickly remedy his or her negligence right on the spot and receive the entitlement, license, etc. without delay.
There are those who may object that making participation in
the demos an obligation rather than a privilege is a decidedly pushy proposition
for a work dedicated to maximizing personal freedom. There is a bit of truth to
this argument, but this truth is less important than other considerations:
1) By placing this small requirement upon ourselves we, ironically, would
gain a large measure of true democracy and personal freedom. 2) Put into perspective, voting in the demos
would be an imposition the magnitude and character of which is in the realm of
paying one’s taxes or getting a driver’s license, a fishing permit, or a
building permit. 3) A free spirit such as a wild wanderer or a religious
recluse would remain unburdened by simply shrugging off the small sum of money
and unneeded licenses and permits. 4) Without voting being a civic duty a
demos would degenerate into just another plutocratic branch of government.
How could such a tiny objection overrule such a wonderful
result? It would no doubt be the elite, who are themselves the most reliable
voters and who have the most to gain by others not voting, that shout the
loudest for some supposed “right” to not vote.
In a very short period of time, the demos would come to be understood and cherished by
all. People would become strongly self-motivated to vote. And a penalty for not voting would become a rarity.
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Beyond Plutocracy - Direct Democracy for America
© Copyright 2001-2017 Roger D Rothenberger