Professor Jason Stanley wrote an interesting essay on how America’s free market ideology perverts democracy. A coarse summary of his essay might be this: Americans mistake “free market” competition for freedom. Even in politics, we’re out-competed by wealthy corporations. But we don’t complain because we think that’s freedom. He says:
Free market ideology uses democratic vocabulary as propaganda, obscuring a non-democratic reality.
It’s an interesting article. You’re welcome to share your thoughts about it in the comment sections.
But the very last sentence is off the mark:
Voters are using the proper tool – elections – to make their concerns heard. Will anyone listen?
That’s like saying neanderthals used the proper tools, rocks, to sharpen sticks. Just because that’s the only tool they had doesn’t mean it’s a very good one, or the “proper” one.
Do you feel expressed by voting?
Do you feel like the election makes your voice heard? I don’t. There are good candidates I can’t vote for because only a Democrat or Republican can win. And a vote for a candidate certainly doesn’t express my position on ten different opinions.
Are you one of those people who thinks America should have a larger military budget? Or a much smaller one? How will you make that desire heard in the upcoming election? Of course, you won’t.
Elections don’t make our voices heard.
Voters can’t use elections to make their concerns heard. That’s like sitting down in a restaurant with a huge buffet with tons of scrumptious foods. Two waiters come over to bring you your food. You’re not allowed to say anything, just to point and choose which of the waiters will go fill a plate for you.
Except it’s worse than that. Waiter A likes to give lots of sweets. Waiter B likes you to eat healthy. What we’re going to do is have everyone at the table vote on which waiter will serve everyone. That’s how you get to express yourself in elections. That doesn’t make our concerns heard.
Elections can only work if the person elected forgets about his or her party and not only tries to represent all the people, but succeeds. Given the control of our politics by the wealthy, there’s not even a chance of that happening. Even if they try, we’re not coherently expressing ourselves, so at best they could only try.
What if we had a real way to express ourselves politically? And what if it was part of a system that delivered true accountability to citizens?
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