I heard a saying once, I believe attributed to Frank Herbert of Dune fame:
Two plus two does not equal five no matter how many people vote for it.
This is democracy’s principle flaw. Majorities have made all sorts of atrociously wrong decisions that trampled the rights of minorities. Legal slavery under the constitution of the US comes to mind. Religious persecution, racism, sexism — all the creation of majorities.
So the idea of a republic is rather a good one, where the people elect representatives who make decisions rather than the people making decisions directly. It allows a bit of a buffer zone between “mob rule” and government. The problem with this is what America is facing today — your government goes up for sale to special interests when it is in the hands of greedy, petty people.
I’ve always wondered why lobbying is effective. Most of the people in the US congress are not hard up for money. In fact, most of them are independently wealthy. So why does money sway them? If I were a politician I would say, donate to my campaign if you want me to use my best judgement. I promise nothing in return for your campaign contribution except to be as wise as possible in rending my judgement and as idealistic as possible, while as pragmatic as necessary, to make a positive difference in people’s lives.
Government walks a very fine balance between providing the foundation which makes law and justice possible while treading as carefully as possible on the individual liberties that we take to be self-evident.
Government is necessary and therefore it must be effective and therefore we need our best and brightest at the helm and therefore we are compelled to get the money-grubbing, ideological crooks out of our government. To do that we must render the notion that [s]he who spends more get more votes impotent.
The power is with the people. The only people who serve in public office are the people we put there. We are failing.