Sunday, June 25, 2017

"Our Fake Democracy" -- Timothy Egan

Timothy Egan, op-ed columnist for the New York Times, wrote what I think is an essential commentary on the current state of our "fake democracy."   Here are excerpts.

". . . . For the United States, the biggest institutional lie of the moment is that we have a government of the people, responding to majority will.  On almost every single concern, Congress . . . is going against what most of the country wants. And Congress is doing this because there will be no consequences.

"We have a fake democracy, growing less responsive and less representative by the day.

"The biggest example of this is the monstrosity of a health care bill, which a cartel of Republicans finally allowed us to peek at on Thursday. . . .  a radical overhaul of one-sixth of the economy, something that touches every American, comes too late to make our voices heard.

"Crafted in total darkness, the bill may pass by a slim majority of people who have not read it. Inevitably, with something that deprives upward of 23 million Americans of health care, people will die because of this bill. . . .

"It would be understandable if Republicans were doing this because it’s what most Americans want them to do. But it’s not. Only about 25 percent of Americans approved of a similar version of this bill, the one passed by the House. . . .

"Why would the people’s representatives choose to hurt their own people? The answer is further evidence of our failed democracy. About 75 million Americans depend on Medicaid. This bill will make their lives more miserable and perilous in order to give the top 2 percent of wealthiest Americans a tax cut.

"And where are the 75 million now? . . .  The sad fact is, the poor don’t vote. Up to 80 percent of low earners do not show up at the polls. . . .  So, little surprise that Republicans are also working to make it even harder for the poor to vote. . . . 

"The symptoms of democratic collapse . . . cry for immediate action. . . .   The United States, once known for our American Dream, now has the lowest class mobility of any Western democracy . . . .

"What is Congress doing? Nothing on wages. Nothing on college tuition. And the health care bill will most surely force many people to choose between buying groceries and being able to visit a doctor.

"Our fake democracy reveals itself daily. Less than a third of Americans support President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement. In a truly representative government, you would see the other two-thirds, the common-sense majority, howling from the halls of Congress.

"Most Americans are also against building a wall along the Mexican border. They would prefer putting taxpayers’ billions into roads, bridges, schools and airports. But the wall remains a key part of President Trump’s agenda.

"Trump is president, of course, despite losing the popular vote by nearly 3 million people. Almost 60 percent of the public is against him now. In a parliamentary system, he’d be thrown out in a no-confidence vote. In our system, he’s primed to change life for every citizen, against the wishes of a majority of Americans. Try calling that a democracy while keeping a straight face."

But it's not just the president.   Republicans control both houses of congress.   And gerrymandering, voter suppression, and big money control Congress.   Egan fails to mention the effect of Big Money in our elections.   Campaign finance reform hasn't been mentioned since the election.

The weak spot in their power right now is the Senate.    They can afford to lose only two votes on a partisan divided vote, like the health care bill.   Surely there are three senators with spine enough to stand up and say No.   Right now, five are saying they can't vote for it as is.   But some of them will cave in to party pressure.   We only need three.   Who?


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