Democracy clearly is failing in the West. I live in the UK, where today was supposed to be the day that Britain left the EU, as voted on by a majority of the British people in 2016. Except we’re not leaving – not yet. Nothing has been agreed – even an agreement that we are, in fact, going to leave.
Last Saturday, a million people in favor of remaining in the union marched, demanding that Parliament give the people a second say on whether to go forward with Brexit, they were so horrified by how bad the negotiations were.
Today, the best estimates are that up to two million people are on the Brexit march, coalescing around Parliament, claiming that the government is deliberately frustrating the process of leaving, much as a dictatorship would.
For both Leavers and Remainers alike, it appears that nobody in Parliament is listening anymore.
Your donor war-chest
In America, where a record number of Democratic presidential hopefuls are lining up, there is only one important political position in terms of success: the size of your war chest, a sizeable amount of which is paid by corporations, or PACs.
To give you some idea of what it takes, the presidential and Congressional races in 2016 cost $9 billion in total, with $2.9 billion spent just on the Presidential primaries and election.
Embedded in our current system are the giant donations paid by lobbyists to candidates to grease the wheels of government; all the contorted gerrymandering of districts by whatever political party is in power to ensure that the opposition never get voted in; and of course, the bipartisan system itself, which ensures that no independent voices get represented or even heard.
For all these reasons and more, your democratic voice on both sides of the Atlantic is virtually worthless.
If absolutely not one American supported a certain initiative, there’s nevertheless a 30 percent chance that something will get passed. On the other hand, if every single person in America is in favor of a particular bill, there’s still only a 30 percent chance that it will get passed.
There’s also no chance that people of one or another party can fix this. For instance, only 24 per cent of the US population considers themselves liberal. So, if a liberal introduces a law against corruption, it will almost certainly fail. The figures are not much better for conservatives.
However, I am incredibly optimistic that government in both of these bastions of democracy will get fixed, and the reason I’m optimistic has to do with the emerging, out-of-the-box thinking that is occurring all over the place, particularly among young people.
The actress Jennifer Lawrence has taken a year off from acting to boost the profile of an organization called Represent.Us. Ingeniously, Represent.Us recognized that with the government system in place corrupt and broken, it can’t be fixed at the federal level.
Josh Silver and his colleagues who founded Represent.Us did some research and found that the states themselves have sole control over how elections are run, which means that reform at state level would impact how Congress elects our representatives.
But they also found something else. When they studied the passage of a number of ground-breaking laws, like women’s rights and the like, they found that in every instance, individual states might pass their own laws, and slowly other states follow. However, when the number of states passing a given law, reached a certain critical mass, it inevitably led to a federal law.
Recognizing that 9 out of 10 citizens in America support anti-corruption laws, no matter what their political persuasion, Represent.Us have begun a bi-partisan movement to fix corruption in America by targeting state legislature to pass anti-corruption legislation.
Have a look at this video that Lawrence and Silver put together, which outlines the movement and on their website: https://represent.us/
And then look at the toolkit you need to get involved.
As Einstein famously remarked, “We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”
And the only way to fix democracy is for all of us to get outside the box.