4th of July: Is the United States a Representative Democracy or a Mirage Democracy?
by Kevin Zeese
July 4, 2011
A Question for Reflection
It is a shame to have to ask whether democracy is a mirage in the United States, no doubt most Americans would rather be celebrating U.S. democracy than questioning it. But the reality of the disconnect between government and the people has become so stark it is impossible to ignore.
Gallup reports that Americans belief in our form of government and how well it works is now at only 42% (in 2002 it was at 76%). Less than a quarter of Americans approve of the job Congress is doing, yet because of manipulation of the political process, the drawing of voting districts, the impact of campaign money and the power of incumbency, more than 90% will be re-elected.
A major problem is the two party duopoly acts much like a two party dictatorship. Despite nearly 60% of Americans wanting a third party and only 35% believing the two parties do an adequate job, the two parties work together to prevent more choices on the ballot. They have put up road blocks to independent challengers through ballot access laws, campaign finance rules, exclusion from debates and the winner take all electoral system. The corporate media plays an important role of keeping independent candidates off the air so people do not hear about their existence or positions. As a result only the two parties, both funded by the corporate oligarchy, and their corporate-approved candidates appear on most ballots. Most Americans end up voting against their interests for what has commonly become known as voting for ‘the lesser evil.’
The courts, which play an essential role in applying constitutional limits on government in the U.S. Republic, have become a tool of the financial elite, actually weakening elections further. They have issued rulings that further empower the money-class in their control of democracy. The court has allowed unlimited spending by corporations and individuals in the Citizens United decision; and recently found the Arizona Clean Elections Act unconstitutional. Thus striking two blows for the wealthy – they can spend as much as they like, but government cannot provide matching public funds for elections.