Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 20th Feb 2012 11:22 UTC
Hardware, Embedded Systems No matter where you look these days, there's a profound sense here in the west that the people no longer having any tangible control over what our governments do. Sure, we are allowed to vote every once in a while, but effectively, most of our countries are governed by backroom deals and corporate interests. If matters really do get out of hand, how do we fight this? Well, with technology of course!
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Yes, every once in a while
by quickthom on Mon 20th Feb 2012 13:14 UTC
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The reason we vote every once in a while and then have no control over anything until it's time to vote again is because of that Constitution thing. Nobody in the 18th century thought direct democracy was a good idea. Google the phrase "tyranny of the majority" to see what I mean.

The United States is a democratic republic, not a democracy. We choose our leaders through democratic means, and then leave it up to them to govern while we go about our lives. Backroom deals are an inevitable result of that, and aren't necessarily a bad thing, so long as you trust your representative to know what the right thing is. Something that doesn't help is when people breathe down their necks, screaming at Town Hall meetings over every concession and every line in every bill they voted for that they have some kind of issue with. The reason our government is so dysfunctional is not because there's no transparency, it's because we keep insisting on more of it while holding everyone to impossible standards. No wonder politicians can't help but be posturing, gibbering pander-machines.

The real problem is the way elections are done. If we had a system of public campaign finance where no private money was allowed, we could begin to turn politics and public service back into a serious endeavor. As it is, advancement in both parties is tied to success in fundraising; John Boehner is not Speaker of the House because of his skill or dedication or leadership or anything else. It's because he was really good at raising money for the GOP. Incidentally, this also solves your problem with corporate influence. If politicians and their Super PACs can't take money from corporations, they don't owe them anything.

I don't know what can be done about it, though. Everything is pretty stacked against us. Buddy Roemer, the only presidential candidate this cycle to talk about campaign finance, was totally shut out of the debates. The Supreme Court seems to think money is speech and that limiting campaign contributions violates the First Amendment. The chances of ever getting a constitutional amendment regulating campaign spending through our Congress are zero, for precisely the same reason that we need one.

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