Let’s face it, our democracy is broken! It’s been broken for a long time. The first Presidential election I could vote in was Gore vs. Bush, Gore won the popular vote and Bush stole the electoral college by the dirty deals of his brother the Governor of Florida. That was the election that woke me up to our democracy being broken. It’s mostly gotten worse since then. Unlimited money in politics has lead to corporate and billionaire capture of our democratic government. Billionaires running for President or being Governors and Mayors of NYC is a sure sign that our democracy is a corrupt and facile thing. We can even see that at the local level.
We’re a city of only 55k people. There are five positions for Oly city council open this year and as of today, the grand total of all the money raised by all the candidates running for city council is $208,625.86 and we have four months to go! What even is all this money being spent on? Plastic yard signs declaring the name and position running for? Glossy mailers mentioning endorsements? Annoying phone calls? Matching t-shirts? Paying someone thousands of dollars to run your campaign for you? Why don’t we instead take that $208k and hold 200 debates across Olympia? Why is the only debate before the primary a set of five questions with two minutes or one minute to answer? Is that a debate?
Seriously folks, we’re blowing money and we’re not even educating the public or furthering the issues! Sometimes I jump in these Democrat Party general meetings and there is no reasoned debate on the issues there either! Where are the conversations of the issues happening? I hear folks tell me all the time, it is what it is, most folks vote for the sign they see the most. Well it literally is that way because we have allowed our democracy to fall to life support! We allowed our fourth estate, journalism, to become desolate as well! We don’t teach people in school to be participatory democratic citizens! And without a functioning democracy to guide us there will only be rule by power and rebellion.
We can make our elections a process that elevates the people. A chance for renewal in hope and a focusing on the challenges. It can be an engaging and thought provoking experience. It can even incorporate art, music and culture. But it can’t be captured by the rich for money spent on bullshit. Bullshit of course wins if there is no culture of democracy and engaging ways to test the merit of our candidates.