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Pedantic Pandering from the Pillars of Progressive Pablum

1:36 pm in Uncategorized by welshTerrier2

Whew… talk about a one-two punch. First Krugman; then Obama.

Krugman started off so well. He had all the buzz phrases: rich man’s recovery, children of the wealthy, meritocratic ideology, oligarchic reality… and this: “the power of money is crowding out effective democracy.” And this: “whatever is causing the growing concentration of income at the top, the effect of that concentration is to undermine all the values that define America.”

Tell it, Brother Paul.

“Crowding out effective democracy”. “Undermining all the values that define America.” Yikes… that’s some pretty serious stuff. It sounds like the corpus Americana is in critical condition. What say ye, Dr. Paul? What say ye, Mr. Nobel prize winner? What say ye, Mr. NY Times? What say ye, Mr. Voix des Liberals? What prescription will you offer to sickly old Uncle Sam?

Ah, here we go… the article transitions with a very clear “What can be done?” Now we’ll get some answers. Ouch, the New Deal “seems politically out of reach” but “that doesn’t mean we should give up on smaller steps.” Paul’s only suggestion? He likes de Blasio’s call for “universal prekindergarten education, paid for with a small tax surcharge on those with incomes over $500,000.”

That’s it? Democracy is gone and that’s it? All the values that define America have been undermined and that’s it? Sheesh… if this doesn’t highlight the utter bankruptcy of liberal America I don’t know what does. It’s hard to believe the NY Times even wasted their column inches on such drivel.

But fear not… we also heard from Mr. Obama who was only slightly less dramatic than Mr. Krugman.

Appearing today on an ABC News program, Mr. Obama was interviewed by George Stephanopolous.

Stephanopolous: “Maybe a president just can’t stop this accelerating inequality.”

Obama: “No, I think the president can stop it.”

After blaming Republicans, Mr. Obama argued that globalization and technology were causing the loss of American jobs and that his solution included increased education, more infrastructure projects and tax incentives for businesses to create jobs.

Say what? Let me see if I’ve got this? We’re suffering from “accelerating inequality” and all that’s being offered is a few dead-in-the-water programs to address the situation? Ask yourself this: will the gap between rich and poor continue to increase if all of Obama’s suggestions were fully implemented? The liberals have nothing to offer beyond bandaid democracy. Let the wealth gap continue to grow. Do whatever you can to patch up the wounded. Let the extreme concentration of wealth continue to poison the good old US of A. We’ll offer some scholarships to the poor or maybe even a discount on student loan rates. Yeah, talk about revolutionary change. That oughtta do it.

Although it’s been said many times, many ways, we cannot leave in place any system that leaves so few with so much that they are able to write the rules and control both the government and the media. You need to understand that money is power and too much money is too much power. Even if you could impose a system that taxed the income of the super-wealthy at 100%, they would still be able to exert a perverting influence on our democratic processes. Got that? You cannot allow the current concentration of wealth to remain in place because it leads to oligarchy. The problem is not just income; it’s wealth.

So, all of it, i.e. all the liberal programs of the great safety net, fail to achieve the necessary objective which, of course, is real democratic government. You can’t get there from here. You can’t pay teachers more and reduce class sizes. You can’t save Social Security and Medicare. You can’t create jobs. You can’t provide increased opportunities to women and minorities. You can’t address climate change or our depleted-nutrition food supply. You can’t overturn the Citizens United decision. You can’t slice the military budget in favor of programs that benefit everyday Americans. In short, when wealth and power are as concentrated as they are, you just plain can’t. And that is the current state of liberal America and the Democratic party… they just plain can’t.

And so we go to war. We are mocked as “class warriors”. Our values, our country and our very survival is under attack by the ruling class and it is we who are mocked. There is only one solution “progressives” should be addressing and that is that the extreme concentration of wealth that exists must no longer exist. Until there are millions of us in the streets who identify with this message, we will have no power. When that day arrives, however, and it will, our first call should be for the voluntary surrendering of assets above some value. Consequences for those who fail to comply should be made very, very clear.

Socialism… looking beyond the “welfare state”

4:26 am in Uncategorized by welshTerrier2

Socialism: of the people, by the people, for the people.
Capitalism: of the capital, by the capital, for the capital.

Socialism too often is seen only as an economic system. It is, more critically, a political system that, to quote the cliche, puts people before profits. It’s really just that simple.

Implicit in any understanding of socialism is the notion that great disparities between the economic classes, by definition, pervert political equality. Democracy, or any semblance thereof, cannot co-exist with capitalism because the great disparities of wealth that capitalism always produces make the ideal of equally-shared power impossible.

Socialism seeks equally-shared power both in government and in the workplace. When “money talks” in the halls of the people’s government, government is corrupted because “equal representation” is not possible in a system that allows representation to be purchased only by those who can afford the fee. When workers are expected to subjugate themselves and sacrifice their liberties or risk losing their paychecks and their livelihood, our system of employment fails to reflect our values and our pursuit of democracy. Fundamental civil liberties and human dignity should never be the bargain for a paycheck.

We have failed to implement broad socialist themes in the US because we have allowed the capital elite to define socialism only as public welfare. We have allowed liberals to blindly define their agenda as the social safety net without recognizing that safety cannot exist without commensurate political equality. When the debate becomes, as it has, over what degree of subsidy to provide to the poor and the middle class (Medicare/Medicaid, Social Security, Unemployment Compensation) and over funding for public “goods” (public schools, public parks, libraries, the arts and… Big Bird), socialism dies. The question ultimately becomes “how much must we cut?” This debate focus fights the great battle in our neighborhoods with dire consequences.

The right question is, rather, “how much must be taken from the wealthy elite to neutralize their excess political power?”. To speak of increased taxes on income without speaking of the more critical confiscation of existing wealth fails to address what needs to be done. Liberals refuse to address this issue. A debate that focuses on the abusive, un-democratic concentration of wealth moves the battle to where it rightfully belongs.

There are many means and methods by which socialism can be implemented. We must not allow these details, however, to distract us from the most basic objective of socialism. Without equally-shared power, i.e. socialism, government will serve only those with substantial capital and the dream of “of the people, by the people and for the people” will never be realized.

Are you still trapped in the matrix?

6:16 pm in Uncategorized by welshTerrier2

We are trapped by a self-perpetuating cycle of concentrated wealth and concentrated power. As wealth concentrates, power concentrates. As power concentrates, wealth concentrates.

To quote the eminently quotable Mr. Chomsky:

Concentration of wealth yields concentration of political power. And concentration of political power gives rise to legislation that increases and accelerates the cycle. The legislation, essentially bipartisan, drives new fiscal policies and tax changes, as well as the rules of corporate governance and deregulation. Alongside this began a sharp rise in the costs of elections, which drove the political parties even deeper into the pockets of the corporate sector.

We waste our days highlighting the latest injustice… the latest madness. We are skilled observers and see most of them all too clearly. In the beginning, perhaps, labeling these symptoms could boast a small degree of educational value. Perhaps, even today, it helps build our community. The payback for such pursuits is small at best.

The risk is that we see these outrages as ends in themselves. We see them as requiring case-by-case solutions.

So, we speak about Obama’s crimes. We speak about the injustice of war and the lies and the money and the greed and the broken electoral promises.

We skewer the religious right and the Republicans or the corporatized media who do their bidding.

We align ourselves with a parade of identity groups… blacks, women, the elderly.

We speak of the need for third parties and we throw our support to one candidate or another.

We cannot get there from here… not with this approach.

To build the world we seek, power must be democratically distributed. And to achieve that, wealth, not just income, must also be democratically distributed. Any electoral success you might seek that fails to honor that vision is no electoral success at all. If you are campaigning for candidates or parties, they must, at their core, ascribe to the view that concentrated wealth, whether earned “legally” or otherwise, cannot be allowed to stand. Absent that, all other electoral activity is bankrupt. It is utter folly to believe you can effect change electorally without this prerequisite firmly ingrained in the population.

The mission also must not be to defend at any and all costs the ever-more-necessary social safety net. To be sure, until we are able to install a just government, such pursuits are honorable… and necessary. Charity, though, is best when the need for charity is least. If wealth were less concentrated, more of us would have more wealth to begin with. If power were less concentrated, we could build a society that serves all instead of serving just a few. Don’t make the safety net the ultimate goal. As wealth and power become more concentrated, as they have, the demands on the safety net coupled with decreased funding create an unsustainable situation. You cannot prevent the coming “austerity measures” until you democratize wealth and power. For those who would counter with the very recent elections in Greece and France, allow me to say that the jury is still out. You can win elections and still lose the game.

The first sparkle in a very, very long time was Occupy. Although news coverage was painfully slow in the beginning, there were a few months last year where Occupy was in the news almost everyday. That is clearly not the case now. While many are still deeply committed and very active, the level of activity, and press coverage, is nothing like it had been. Perhaps the “spring offensive” has yet to take off. Perhaps the flashy occupations have settled into a more mature form of movement building. Or perhaps the kindling burned up before it caught the big logs.

Some seem to believe that when things get really bad, the public will join together to topple the power structure. It often seems this is more likely to happen in countries outside the US. In the US, i.e. inside the heart of the beast, perhaps we have grown too soft and lazy or fearful of losing our creature comforts. Or perhaps we face the most sophisticated propaganda machine the world has ever known. Or perhaps, burning in each one of us is a passion for justice that will sooner or later take to the streets to demand change. Things still look painfully quiet inside my crystal ball.

You cannot regulate the undemocratic abuses of highly concentrated wealth and power because you have neither wealth nor power. You cannot swim against the tide of media indoctrination because you do not control the media… but someone does. There are certainly no easy answers here. The path to change can only occur through massive public education and, eventually, through revolution… hopefully peaceful. Such change is nowhere on the horizon.

I wonder how many of you would ascribe to the view that we must directly confiscate wealth to begin the process of building a truly egalitarian society. I see no other viable path to change. For those who agree, I wonder exactly how you think we should go about it.

The Arab Spring Reawakens with a Vengeance

10:39 am in Uncategorized by welshTerrier2

After the street protests in Cairo last February and March that toppled the Mubarek regime, the Egyptian revolution seemed to go quiet. The military seized control of the Egyptian government and promised elections would soon be forthcoming. But tensions over Egypt’s future, highlighted by a distrust of the military’s control of the government, have erupted again.

Al Jazeera is reporting that more than 100,000 Egyptians from all walks of life are currently filling Tahrir Square. Protests in Tahrir Square, Cairo

The head of Egypt’s military, Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, just spoke to the nation. He promised that the military was totally committed to civilian elections. He said that Parliamentary elections will be held starting on November 28 of this year and that presidential elections would be held in July, 2012. He tried to make a case that the country was still too unstable to hold elections now. In spite of the fact that at least 33 protesters have been killed and more than 1700 injured since Saturday, he said that the military “will never kill a single civilian.” Tantawi made absolutely no reference to earlier statements that the military, even after a democratically elected government was put in place, would remain totally independent of any civilian oversight. This issue, perhaps more than any other, coupled with the violence against protesters, has inflamed the current protests.

The speech was broadcast live to the sea of protesters gathered in Tahrir Square. The reaction was overwhelmingly negative. It was characterized by an Al Jazeera reporter on the scene as “deafening”. The protesters shouted over and over and over “Go, go, go” demanding that Tantawi and his military end their control of the Egyptian government. If the intent of the speech was to provide reassurance to the protesters, it failed miserably.

When protesters arrive in such large numbers even in the face of killings by a corrupt regime, it is hard to see how that regime can survive for long.

Comparisons to the fledgling Occupy movement in the US are inevitable. Are we seeing the early stages of a growing revolution in the US? Will Occupy be able to turn out the same numbers with the same “no cost too high” commitment? Will it be harder to replace the corrupt US government with a new regime than it will be to topple Egyptian military rule?

I’m concerned that we Americans have a much more difficult task ahead of us. For Egyptians, the difference between an unelected military dictatorship and a democratically elected government is very clear. In the US, though, the undemocratic corruption is less clear to many citizens. Too many believe we have the freedom to “just vote them out.” Too many still believe that government can adequately regulate corporations even though most elected officials are heavily dependent on corporate cash to retain their positions in office. You can’t just “throw the bumbs out” when only bumbs make it to the ballot.

Other critical differences exist. The US mass media have shown little or no sensitivity to the Occupy movement. Too many Americans get all their news from corporatized media. While opinions vary about Al Jazeera, the network seems to side with those fighting for democracy. In the US, the media focuses on “private property” rights of park owners; they focus on “smells and hygiene”; they focus on “tents”; they focus on one or two violent actors instead of the overall non-violence essence of the movement. In short, they lie. It is no small task to overcome this pervasive system of propaganda. Americans are not stupid but a steady diet of lies, regardless of what TV newscast they tune into, is a highly effective tool to repress revolution.

Many of us are hopeful that Occupy will continue to grow. We are encouraged by the wisdom the movement has exhibited in its infancy. We know that as more and more of us are brought to the brink of economic and social disaster, the movement will grow. But, we stand in opposition to the greatest concentration of wealth and power the world has ever known. We stand in opposition to a system that has indoctrinated the masses with the belief that the US is a democracy controlled by its citizens in the voting booth. We stand in opposition to a system that stifles and distorts our message.

It was inspiring to watch today’s massive street demonstrations in Cairo. They give us hope that ordinary people doing extraordinary things can be replicated here in the US. Occupy is off to a great start. It emerged from a darkness so profound that perhaps, to some, it seemed like even the smallest seeds of protest could never sprout again in the US. Now, the revolutionary energies of the Occupy movement seem like our last real chance for change. For that to become reality, though, many more of us will need to do much more than we’ve done. As we watch the Arab street put it on the line for their beliefs, perhaps we will gain the inspiration to do what is necessary. The alternative is far too dark to contemplate.

The Ingredients of Revolution: Four essential changes

9:22 am in Uncategorized by welshTerrier2

Revolutions do not succeed merely because the current government has been toppled. The full cycle of revolution includes not just the tearing down phase but the rebuilding phase as well. Revolutions succeed only when the values they are seeking have been realized. And, even when those values have been realized, revolutions, in the long run, can only be deemed successful if those values are sufficiently protected and sustained by the new societal institutions they create.

We often hear the expression “be the change you want to see.” If citizens are not well-formed, if they see only their rights but not their obligations in a democracy, if they don’t understand the need for eternal vigilance to protect the greater citizenry from tyranny, democracy becomes impossible. The first essential change needed to bring about real democracy in the US is to awaken all citizens to the role they must play and the skills and motivations needed to do so effectively. We need our fellow citizens to see themselves as empowered. We need them to understand that envisioning new ways of thinking and new societal structures that lead to fundamental human empowerment sits at the core of the tasks that lie before us.

While we can cheerlead for these changes, each of us needs to make these changes within ourselves. We need to see ourselves as empowered with voices that have not only the right but the obligation to speak out for social justice. We need to work together to envision new institutions of democracy that fairly distribute power to everyone.

But, beyond the grassroots social structures we build and the changes we make to our own thinking, it is critical to recognize that real democracy has other components that need to be properly architected if we hope to succeed.

Critical among these is a system of education that contributes to life-long learning. Schools, for young and old alike, must instill in each citizen an understanding that democracy depends on their well-informed participation. Teaching “respect for authority” without teaching that “we, the people, are the authorities” leads only to totalitarianism. Without a well-informed electorate, democracy is a pretense.

Also critical is a mass media that serves the public’s interests and not the interests of those who “own” the media outlets. Even a good education cannot always overcome the persistent pounding of the paid propaganda peddlers. If the grassroots is not well-represented in the daily spewing of “news and information” programming, consent of the public, against their own best interests, is often too easy to obtain. As the saying goes “garbage in; garbage out”. An electorate without grassroots news sources cannot make well-informed choices. When the sources of news and information are controlled by the moneyed elite, democracy is no longer possible. We can no longer allow the perverse paradigm of equating money with “free” speech to continue. When “extra speech” can be bought by the wealthiest citizens for a price most cannot afford, democracy dies. There can be no free speech if there is not equal speech. Mass media must be publicly owned. When private owners control the message, they control the country. Which brings us, yet again, to the great debate of reform versus revolution.

Campaign finance reform, while an admirable goal, cannot be achieved while the wealth gap remains perversely disproportionate. How do we purport to pass laws to regulate the abuses of money while living under the tyrannical thumb of the moneyed elite? Even in the rare circumstances where progressive, though ineffective, legislation like McCain-Feingold is passed, we’ve seen that in time the “courts of the moneyed elite” are able to neuter the laws.

So, what then is the solution to the tyranny that excessive wealth enables? Does anyone believe that we can really use the corrupt electoral system to bring about the reforms we seek? Who gets elected? Worse, who gets to even run? How many millionaires are there in the Congress? Who controls the media and the electoral debate process? Who can afford the lobbyists? No, I don’t believe we can use “the system” to reform the system. What we need is revolutionary change; not reform.

And exactly what change is needed? What is your solution to build a society where the inevitable “wealth equals power” paradigm no longer perverts our democracy? That is your goal, isn’t it? How do we get there from here? Too many cling to the belief that the answers lie within our current institutions of government. We will vote in the good guys and have them do good stuff. The good guys we support will never be influenced by the abuses of money. They will not concern themselves with raising the massive mountains of moolah needed to get elected and to remain in office. They will never “accept the deal” from corporate America that tells them they can keep their seats to do all the good stuff if they will just compromise a little on certain pro-corporate issues. Such beliefs clearly have learned nothing from history. We’ve been making that same damned mistake over and over and over and over for hundreds of years. Wake up already, will ya?

Government is not evil. We can have a government that represents us. We have far too large a population to make “direct democracy” work on every single issue. On most issues, we need our form of government to be a “representative democracy”. But we cannot solve the problems we face with our current “representative democracy” because it is not representative. We cannot make the changes we need if we leave in place the corrupt system of excessive wealth that will always pervert any attempt at real democracy and real representative government. The ultimate change we need, and this is where too many liberals turn into libertarians, is to cap wealth. The wealth gap cannot be allowed to be as great as it is if we are sincere in seeking “equality of citizenship”. It just can’t. Money, i.e. wildy excessive wealth, will corrupt democracy every single time no matter what laws you might pass. The goal is not to punish the wealthy; the goal is to strip them of their excess wealth such that they no longer have sufficient resources to pervert the will of the citizenry.

At the core of the revolution, beyond all the social issues and government policies, lies one critical ingredient that must never be compromised. All citizens should have an equal voice in shaping what their government does. Until there is economic justice such that no citizen can have so much wealth that they are able to purchase a greater share of influence over the government, democracy will remain a distant dream. Cap wealth, empower citizens by teaching them their obligations to democracy, educate them and provide a grassroots-based news and information media and then, and only then, can the people’s revolution bring about the society we all deserve.

Reclaiming Democracy

9:00 am in Uncategorized by welshTerrier2

The campaign signs have been taken down. The final tallies reported. Another election has come and gone. The prognosticators busy themselves predicting our future. Let me save them the trouble: nothing has changed. Out with the old and in with, well, more of the old. Most of us, left, right, center or anywhere else, understand that something is just not right in today’s America. I’ve seen the polls… poll after poll after poll. They are not comprised of cynics and complainers. We, the people, understand what has happened. What do the polls all say? They tell us that the American people no longer believe their own government acts, or perhaps even wants to act, in the national interest.

These are not only current polls. Polls well back into the 1980′s and perhaps beyond reflect an understanding that well-financed corporate interests have a far greater say in national policy than the American people have. Has it always been this way? Truthfully, I have no idea. What I do know is that we face an urgency in this country to restore power to the American people. Time is running out.

This is not an anti-capitalism rant. This is not an anti-business and anti-commerce rant. Regardless of what economic system is chosen, one essential truth is that power must rest with the American people or the selfish interests of corporate shareholders will set the agenda. Our media has become dangerously centralized. Although it is true that forums such as this do provide an opportunity for each citizen to speak out, the steady diet of news and talk bought and paid for by the likes of GE and Disney and Clear Channel marginalizes any serious discourse and any serious possibility for change.

While the nation bleeds, our jobs are being “globalized.” While our troops bleed, war after war is fought on the backs of the American poor while companies in Big Defense and Big Oil reap all-time record-high profits. Perhaps some accept the idea that wars like Iraq and Afghanistan are truly in the national interest; one thing’s for sure though: there are people making some serious money from these wars.

We are sold a false choice. You are left; you are right; you are center. Views like those expressed above are often characterized as left. I strongly disagree. I see a total corruption of America’s democratic (small “d”) institutions. Is calling for a restoration of democracy “left”? Does anyone really believe there is no connection between big money and big political influence? Some choose to define lobbying and the purchasing of candidates as “free speech.” It’s a funny term for something that costs so much. Do we want a “democracy” where those with the most money can have the greatest impact on national policy? Is that democracy at all or is it really just another form of commerce where government, and those we elect, are bought and sold like commodities?

Our treasury has been drained by irresponsible spending. We cannot afford to run indefinite budget deficits. While it is clear we should provide all the defense this country could possibly need, does it not weaken the country to spend almost more on defense than all the other countries of the world combined? If we pay for an infinite arsenal of weapons, does our fiscal weakness or our no-longer-competitive education system not become our achilles heel? Unbalanced, disproportionate “defense” spending has weakened the country; not strengthened it. A strong defense? Absolutely! Excessive, corporate-welfare defense spending? Absolutely not!

We get so caught up in all the political labels that we become distracted from the reality of exactly who holds most of the power. Perhaps it’s become just a 60′s cliche that we need to restore “power to the people.” I don’t subscribe to the idea that there is no difference between the two main political parties. But neither party is likely to diffuse the ticking time-bomb they’ve set. America’s fiscal house has been brought dangerously close to the brink of collapse. Local cities and towns throughout the country have been starved to fund even the most essential services. And global warming? Assuming you’re not one of those in-denial whackos, this is a huge problem. The remedies proposed thus far are little more than band-aid solutions. Better miles per gallon and minimal use of marginal renewables by 2020 (the two key facets of the recent energy bill) will, after accounting for increased demand, have virtually no effect on the current levels of CO2 production. What we need, if you believe non-partisan groups like the Union of Concerned Scientists, are significant reductions in current levels. Industries like Big Auto and Big Oil will never stand for that. And so, the legislators we elect “reach a compromise” among the competing interests. We are facing a crisis and our political institutions can do little more than effect a watered-down compromise – if that. Not good. Coastal cities will be at risk. Major food producing areas will be at risk from drought. Globally, some forecasts suggest hundreds of millions could die from starvation. Serious stuff. Those who control the levers of power will not do what is needed and those whose campaigns they support continue to do their bidding; not our bidding.

So what do I suggest? The truth is, it’s not clear to me there are any short-term answers. Should we all go to Washington and tell our reps we want them to start acting in the national interest? Great idea but the current climate just won’t support that. I’m afraid, although we would be best served by being proactive, that nothing will change until things get much worse. Either most of us believe we, the people, are powerless to reclaim our country or we just don’t see the situation with the same urgency I do. As the country declines, and I believe it will, more and more of us will awaken and more and more of us will demand deep fundamental change to how our country is governed and to who holds power. Let’s hope it’s not too late when we do.

Keep the faith, friends. Way back in 1798, Thomas Jefferson wrote the following:

“A little patience, and we shall see the reign of witches pass over, their spells dissolve, and the people, recovering their true sight, restore their government to its true principles. It is true that in the meantime we are suffering deeply in spirit, and incurring the horrors of a war and long oppressions of enormous public debt. If the game runs sometimes against us at home we must have patience till luck turns, and then we shall have an opportunity of winning back the principles we have lost, for this is a game where principles are at stake.”

Equality of Citizenship

12:59 pm in Uncategorized by welshTerrier2

We are engaged in all manner of argument. Government should be smaller; it should be larger. We need to protect America; the wars are senseless. We need to be responsible for ourselves; society has an obligation to the weakest and poorest among us. Corporations should have a voice; corporatism is destroying us. Taxes are evil; taxes are the price we pay for the society we seek. Global warming is a hoax; global warming will destroy us.

There’s really no end to the laundry list and, sadly, it seems we have not advanced sufficiently as individuals or as citizens, to construct a process that allows us to make any progress at all. Our ineffectiveness has resulted in a stalemate at a time of great urgency.

Most of the debate and most of the best known ideas have emanated from the two-party duopoly.

The Republicans simplistically argue for smaller government. What they really mean is government that does very little to take care of citizens in need. They don’t seem very eager to cut their pet projects in the “defense” industry. They don’t seem eager to save money by ending the senseless wars or by shutting down the global system of military bases. I rarely hear them complaining about subsidies to Big Oil or Big Ag or Big Pharma. These “budget busters” are not really budget busters at all. They, like many in government, are all too happy to spend the taxpayers dimes when it suits them.

The Democrats are the real focus of this essay. Democrats like to portray themselves as the party of the people. They claim to be for the little guy. They claim to be for the weakest and the poorest. They claim to be for working men and women. In a narrow sense, some of these claims have at least some merit. Democrats are the safety net party. They promote a parade of programs to help those who have been mangled in the gears of an economic system that values profits instead of valuing people. In this sense, Democrats are more humane than their survival-of-the-fittest colleagues across the aisle.

Tragically, however, Democrats have a blind spot to what I’ll call the “democratic imperative.” The democratic imperative states that “equality of citizenship” must supersede all other considerations. Every citizen must have an equal voice in the affairs of the nation. Merely providing each citizen with the right to vote badly fails to achieve the objective. Voting is not democracy. Voting is not representation. Voting is not equality of citizenship.

For citizens to truly be equal, they must have an equal chance to run for office. They must have equal access to those who are elected to represent them. They must have equal access to the media. When money, big money, steps into the fray, can anyone truly argue our American system comes anywhere close to fulfilling the mission? Money has poisoned our democracy. It has corrupted everything and left those with the most money with the most power. They pick the candidates. They pay for the media needed to elect them. They nominate the judges to the highest courts. They pervert the entire system.

Liberals and Democrats quickly turn to arguments about lobbying reform and campaign finance reform. We’ve seen how ineffective their protests have been. You cannot legislate against the financial elites’ march toward absolute power when you have inadequate power to begin with. Any laws you might pass will be quickly eroded and eventually overturned. Put another way, you can’t get there from here. In the end, we get the best democracy money can buy. It’s not that the pursuit of campaign finance reform isn’t well-intended; it’s that it will not enforce the democratic imperative. The rich get richer; the poor get poorer. As the gap between rich and poor grows larger and larger, democracy becomes impossible. Money, is power. For this reason, I argue that democracy and capitalism, a system designed to create winners and losers, cannot co-exist.

So, then, where does this leave us? If we are currently stuck in a stalemate of dysfunction and even the progressive calls for reform cannot succeed, what, then, is the alternative? What is the prescription? What is the path to progress? If you accept the democratic imperative as an absolute, and of course you should, how can it be achieved?

For too long, far too long, socialists and others on “the Left”, have been painted as anti-liberty tyrants. They are painted, even by pseudo-Left liberals, as wanting to implement invasive policies that give everyone the exact same income and that interfere with each citizen’s right to pursue wealth. When we stray into the economic arena, liberals, who are very at home with issues promoting social justice for minorities, women and gays, suddenly turn into libertarians. How dare you tell anyone how much they can earn or how much wealth they can accumulate!

There is no other way. The gap between rich and poor must be reduced. Not closed; reduced. The goal is not punitive in intent. It is not primarily to achieve a narrow safety net objective. It is not to implement a system of wealth redistribution to punish the successful and reward the unsuccessful. Unfortunately, calls for 90% plus tax rates, as existed back in the economically successful 1950′s, have been painted with the wrong arguments. Calls for capping wealth haven’t been painted at all; they’ve been fire-bombed. Elected Democrats, with few if any exceptions, wouldn’t dare call for either of these necessary measures. Electoral viability might be sound politics; it clearly has not been sound policy. Can anyone deny that fewer and fewer are controlling more and more? This is not what democracy looks like. What answer do the Democrats provide for this abuse? In fact, what answer do liberals provide?

I don’t hear, anywhere in the national discourse, real solutions being proposed to restore the democratic imperative. Democrats complain about the Citizens United decision but fail to call for the systemic changes needed to reverse its abuse and to reverse the perverted system that led to its implementation. Disclosure laws won’t get the job done. Under the guise of freedom, even liberal Democrats have permitted the uncontrolled accretion of wealth and power and its associated corruption of the political process. In short, Democrats have no answers to the problem. The problem is ultimately that, under capitalism, or corporatism if you prefer, the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Democrats prefer to hand out band-aids to the wounded. Democrats are what I like to call “band-aid capitalists.” The ultimate goal should not be to patch up the wounded; the goal should be to implement a system that stops the wounding in the first place.

The wealth gap must be closed because democracy cannot exist in the current climate. Some flavor of democratic socialism is the answer. Socialism, as I define it, is a system that empowers citizens and demands “equality of citizenship.” In this sense, socialism is not primarily an economic system but rather it is a democratic system. The goal is not, as is too often advertised, to have the state “run and control everything.” The goal is simply to ensure that we, the people, hold power. Job one must be to cap both wealth and income in an effort to create at least some economic balance. Job two, if one must layer certain Marxist theory into the mix, must be to transfer corporate control to workers and public representatives. Non-employee investors should have no voting power in corporations. Corporations must be more than just economic, profit-seeking engines; they must be chartered to fulfill a variety of societal objectives as well. These would include such things as a better quality of life, stable and full employment, and a healthy, sustainable environment.

Equality of citizenship is the prime directive. It should guide each and every policy consideration. Systems that yield to money’s corrupting influence must be torn down and replaced with new systems. We must not busy ourselves treating the symptoms of our failed democracy; we must pursue a real cure for the disease. I’m afraid that such radical changes cannot occur through the banal legislative process. I’m equally concerned that calls for revolution, and this is a call for revolution, will not result in a peaceful revolution and will likely result in more repression, inequality and abuse. The truth is we have not been vigilant with our democracy. We have not adequately educated our population on the right philosophies and values. We have not instilled the idea of democratic equality as the core value of our society. We have been far too passive for far too long. It is not at all clear that a revolution to restore our democracy can succeed.

There is no alternative; we have to try.