Though we are the oldest self-proclaimed democracy we lack the basics of real self-government: access to the polls for many citizens, accountability to the voters from politicians, competition among candidates to discern the people’s will, and real options for those who feel their voices aren’t being heard.
This is all fixable – if we are willing to acknowledge what is true, learn from others, and make real change. I stand with those who describe our country as “an evolving experiment in democracy.”
Nor do we have to give up being a capitalist economy – but, we can make changes that will enable our democracy to be more representative and our capitalism to serve the workers as well as the corporations.
Democracy and capitalism have worked effectively in other countries – most especially in Norway, as reported by Ann Jones in the latest issue of The Nation.
Norway has a commitment to both equality and democracy believing that “you can’t have one without the other.” It is a parliamentary democracy where power flows from the top down; though “Norway celebrates society whereas in the United States we celebrate the individual.” (The Nation)
In Norway capitalism serves the people. Negotiations between trade unions and the Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise determine the wages and working conditions of most capitalist enterprises so that income disparity is minimized.
The impact of Citizens United, the Supreme Court’s 2010 decision, dramatically reshaped politics to open the floodgates of campaign spending. We are no longer a democracy but have unfortunately become an oligarchy where our government no long exists to serve its citizens but the super-rich -- whether they are individuals or corporations.
In the Nordic countries capitalism works for the benefit of the many, not just the few.
It is based on equality between men and women, and women are on an equal footing with men in the work force – nearly doubling the tax base. This has meant more for the prosperity of Norway than the discovery of oil in the North Atlantic. (The Nation)
The “welfare state” cares for children, the elderly, the sick and the disabled – freeing women to be a part of the work force and allowing men and women to enjoy both their jobs and their families. In Norway both men and women take paid parental leave during the first year of a child’s life.
As we face the upcoming elections we have the opportunity to face the stories and the fears that come with change; and to also welcome and explore the DEMOCRACY SPRING movement that is arising in April (see my last blog).
What do we envision as the future of democracy in our country? Can we explore differences, welcome change, and perhaps even “give up” some things to be sure that there is sufficiency for all?
Let us have the conversations of how can we work together – in an intergenerational movement – to bring forth a thriving democracy that works for all.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
- Ann Jones, “After I Lived in Norway, America Felt Backward,” The Nation, Feb. 15, 2016
- Ashley Welch, “How the U.S. Ranks in Maternal and Child Health,” CBS News
- How Citizens United Changed Politics in 5 Years, US News & World Reports, Jan, 21, 2015
- Move to Amend -- committed to social and economic justice, and building a vibrant democracy that is genuinely accountable to the people, not corporate interests.
- End Citizens United -- is dedicated to countering the disastrous effects of Citizens United and reforming our campaign finance system.
Watch the debates, work for the candidate that speaks to you and serves us all.