The American political system was poorly designed for modern times. Most people praise America’s founders for their wisdom and foresight in creating a system of government that seemed to be a highly workable system. It largely resisted tyranny. And it clawed its way back from many types of corruption.
A system of government is not a political system.
There’s more to a political system than just a system of government. The government is the institutions that make and interpret laws and carry them out, plus the laws about election. The political system includes all the ways the government is chosen and influenced. While the founders said a lot about government, they said little about elections and almost nothing about influence.
Our political system was designed for 1776, poorly designed for the 1900s
Our political system was founded on some ideas about good people acting in good faith for the benefit of a free country. In 1776, Freedom and Democracy were old ideas but new practices. It hadn’t been tried on a national level for over a millennium. We honor our founders and find wisdom in their writing. But we shouldn’t think their basic solution was sufficient, especially for today’s world, which was very different from theirs.
America’s first Constitution ignored rights, corporations and political parties
In the beginning, America’s constitution did not even guarantee basic rights. The constitution was signed in September, 1787. The Bill of Rights was proposed two years later, and signed into law after another two years.
What else didn’t they plan for?
They warned against political parties
Washington warned against political parties and “factions” before he left office. Madison wrote about it in the Federalist papers. He hoped being a federation would stop them from taking over. He was mistaken. No checks and balances were designed to keep them from warping our politics or stealing our power.
They did not plann for lobbying
In their day, lobbying was abhorrent. People had the right to petition government. But no one had the right to hire influential people to petition government for them. That was unthinkable. Prohibitions of it were written into state constitutions at times, but eventually those were lost.
Corporations and even huge companies
Corporations were abhorrent to America’s founders. Their rise in America was against everything the founders believed. They certain never intended corporations to have the rights of people. Yet today, corporations with budgets larger than most countries operate with near impunity, often influencing and even bribing our Congress.
Accountability was never designed
Mostly, the founders didn’t think much about democracy. To them, citizens were unreliable, uneducated and poorly informed. The founders had debates about whether they should have any say at all- perhaps just landowners? Perhaps just the educated? They didn’t foresee a time when most people could read and write. They didn’t foresee a time when most every citizen had access to media. They certainly didn’t conceive of the anything like the internet.
To them, voting for representatives was a pretty new idea. It hadn’t been around long enough for them to see the possible flaws and corruption. They didn’t think hard about ensuring that politicians would be accountable to people, accept in elections. Nor did they foresee that elections would be influenced by huge corporations and politicians would be corrupted by lobbyists.
What we need is a new design
PeopleCount has taken a hard, deep look at accountability. We’ve designed a way for politicians to be accountable to citizens after the election is over. And a way for citizens to hold their elected officials accountable. But we need your support. Please add your email address to our announcement list.