Real Democracy vs. Plutocracy:
Why America Does Not Yet Have Real Democracy
If you are an average Americans who works hard for a living you have probably become painfully aware that your standard of living is or will be far lower than your parents' standard of living, and you have become increasingly aware that the present outlook for your children and their offspring is not good, for a large variety of reasons.
You know something is terribly wrong, and terribly unfair. But, you may be confused, because the facts of the matter are being blurred and even contradicted by certain politicians and certain "experts," commentators and others you see on television who are paid to lead you to believe that it is you, the people, who are to blame for the problems you face.
Parroting the Reaganite message, they tell you that all you need to do is be more self-reliant, work harder, work longer hours, be more ambitious and more frugal, and simply invest and save your money for retirement or a rainy day. And, they claim, if you merely do that you will enjoy the fruits of your labor and live in fulfillment of the American Dream.
Some of them may actually believe that, and they may believe our political economic system is fair and everyone gets what they deserve. However, that point of view reveals obvious ignorance (or denial) that the system is rigged to favor and benefit the rich, and it reveals utter ignorance of the hard reality that the majority of Americans face.
After all, increasingly during the last three decades most of the American labor force has been required to work longer hours and be forced to settle for less money, less benefits, or no benefits at all. And that is due to the greed, selfishness and callousness of corporate employers who have been "legally" allowed to exploit and take advantage of workers, damage the environment, and put profits above all other concerns.
Granted, as is stated in many articles on this site, people generally do reap what they sow, when there is a fair and level playing field established by good government. However, government is controlled by Plutocrats and Theocrats, and today the American political economic system is completely rigged to favor and entitle the wealthiest few.
Of course those in power deny that. But a 2014 study by Princeton and Northwestern University professors concluded that the U.S. is definitely dominated by an extremely wealthy and powerful few. And while that in itself was not news, it is worthy to note that groups representing banking, corporate and other business interests have substantial independent impact on U.S. Government policy while average citizens and even large populist interest groups have little or no independent influence. A wealthy few determine government policy, while the average American has very little power or influence. In fact, a wealthy few actually overrule the great and vast majority.
That is why the U.S. Government is controlled by Oligarchy and Plutocracy, and the idea that America has a “Democracy” that is or should be a model for the world is merely a part of the misleading Reaganite mythology. That is why this article presents a reality-based, Jeffersonian point of view, which shatters the Reaganite myths.
The Definition of Democracy, As Opposed to What America Has Now
Americans are led to believe that the divisive partisan contest for power and the absurd political theater you see on television is “Democracy in action.” But that is not true.
Just consider the dictionary definition of Democracy. It is government by the people; a form of government in which power is vested in the people and exercised directly by the people, or by their elected representatives. But the meaning is very clear, because Democracy is qualified as that which creates equality of rights and privileges, social equality, and a democratic spirit in which the common people hold the political power.
Now that definition does not describe the U.S. Government. Granted, Americans are still allowed to vote, but the whole electoral system has become deeply flawed, terribly unfair, and rigged to favor the rich. And even though politicians who are elected are supposed to represent all the people in their constituency, most do not. As it is now, regardless of their party, most politicians serve the interests of those among the wealthiest few who fund their campaigns and wield the real power that pulls the strings.
That’s part of the reason America does not have a government that is of the people, by the people, or for the people. Instead what we have is government of, by and for the rich. And that is called a Plutocracy – not a Democracy.
In fact, what America really has is a presidential form of Monarchy, though it is actually controlled by Plutocrats. It is meant to appear as a Democracy, but the divisive, polarizing partisan contest for the throne invalidates it. And the fact is that the person who wins the throne is elected by only about half of the eligible voters who bother to vote, and usually about 40 percent of the eligible voters don’t even bother to vote. So the reality is that an American president is elected by a small percentage of the American people.
But wait. That’s not even the worst part. The partisan political contest for the throne perpetuates conflict and division, and it leads to corruption, slander, cheating and other wrongdoing. It even leads to distorted interpretations of the Constitution — interpretations designed to justify and legalize the political actions of extremely rich people who believe they are entitled to rule.
Now, these things mentioned are just some of the problems that politicians simply ignore. It seems they like the way things are, because they lead Americans to believe that their campaigns and elections are fair and square, and that they fulfill the will of the people. But the people – you and I, and the vast majority — know that’s simply not true.
Of course, all political candidates say what is politically expedient, because they are keenly aware of what people want to hear. But what they say is usually token rhetoric or unrealistic promises. That is why today, in spite of all the promises made by Democrats in 2008 to make changes and establish reforms and justice, the rich are now richer than ever before and their banks and corporations are more profitable than ever before, while the rest of us keep falling further and further into financial insecurity, and growing numbers of us suffer the consequences of poverty. And the fact is that our situation would be even worse under a Republican president, in spite of what the Republican propaganda machine keeps churning out to mislead people.
But Republicans are not the only problem. Most politicians, regardless of their party, go along to get along, and they continue to perpetuate a rigged system that makes them and their financial backers richer. Consequently, politicians do not serve the interests of more than half the American people who are barely scraping by and are seriously at risk of disastrous financial difficulties, and politicians have done little or nothing about the fact that America has the highest child poverty rate of all the industrialized nations in the world.
So, these are just some of the reason why we, the people, need to examine how, why and when things went wrong in America politically, because in my view it was early on, during and especially after the first American presidency.
What Arose During and After the First U.S. Presidency
Now, after the U.S. Constitution was written and implemented, America had a form of representative Democracy, because the first U.S. President, George Washington, was elected because he was the unanimous choice. He was virtually unopposed, and all other candidates were essentially running for Vice President. See, at that time there were no political parties. It was simple. The person who got most votes became president, and the runner-up became vice president.
But, during Washington’s presidency that changed. Partisan political parties were formed and the electoral process changed to accommodate them. And, to add to the problem, two very significant conflicts arose, and those conflicts have had serious, ongoing ramifications.
One of those conflicts was revealed when theocratic Christian clergy complained that the Constitution made no mention of the name Jesus, and President Washington was one of many Founders who tried to set them straight.
Washington’s told them that religious matters needed no political direction, and he praised the Constitution for the absence of any regulation respecting religion. And of course Washington was referring especially to Article 6 and the First Amendment, which prohibit any religious requirement to hold office, and any law regarding the establishment of religion. And Thomas Jefferson and James Madison even more clearly clarified that the Constitution was written to build a wall of “separation between church and state.” Both of them used those words.
However, the Constitution and the intent of America’s Founders did not matter to theocratic clergy then, just as it doesn’t matter to them now, as the ongoing problems with theocratic imposition demonstrate.
Now, the other conflict mentioned was caused because by the time Washington left office, the two partisan political parties that had been formed strongly and vehemently opposed each other.
One was the Federalist Party, and John Adams was their leading candidate, having been Vice President under Washington. The other party was the Democratic Republican Party, which Thomas Jefferson and James Madison had organized, and Jefferson was their leading candidate. But I should add, by the way, that back then the term Republican did not mean what it means today. (In fact, the views of Jefferson and Madison, and Adams too, for that matter, were diametrically opposed to the views of Republicans today, especially regarding religion and economics.) However, the point here is that the goals of the two partisan political parties that existed back then were so very opposed, it caused a huge conflict and deep division in the new nation – and that conflict and division still exists.
But actually the conflict really began earlier within Washington’s administration, because the first Secretary of State was Thomas Jefferson, and he opposed the economic policies developed by the first Secretary of the Treasury, who was the banker, Alexander Hamilton, and Hamilton founded the Federalist Party partly as a result of his differences with Jefferson’s views.
See, originally, the term Federalist had simply meant anyone who favored ratification of the new Constitution. However, that changed when Hamilton founded The Federalist Party by the end of Washington’s second term, because Hamilton had garnered support from bankers and businessmen who liked Hamilton's fiscal and economic views, and Hamilton followed British traditions regarding private banking, private corporations, and foreign policy.
Now, Jefferson and Madison founded the Democratic Republican Party to counter Hamilton’s Federalist Party, because they disapproved of such traditions. In fact, Jefferson was adamant about that, and he accurately predicted or warned that private banks and private corporations, especially if left to their own devices, would abuse their power to the detriment of the people.
So, in the campaign to establish the second U.S. President, even though John Adams was the leading candidate of the Federalist Party, the conflict and contest was actually between the Jeffersonian world view and the Hamiltonian world view. (And of course now, with hindsight, most of us can see that Jefferson has been proven correct – as all the economic crashes and crises, especial those in 1929 and 2008, have clearly demonstrated.)
The First Partisan Political Battle In the U.S., and Its Consequences
Now to fill in more of the story, during the partisan political contest between Jefferson and Adams, Jefferson’s view was that the Federalists, generally speaking, were “Economic Royalists” who favored an aristocracy based on wealth. But Jefferson believed that virtue and knowledge rather than wealth determined good character. In fact, Jefferson was even in favor of higher education for all citizens regardless of their financial status or ability to pay. That way, Jefferson believed, there would be a natural sort of aristocracy that would arise if all citizens had the equal opportunity to develop their full potential and fully express their good character.
Now that is hard to argue against, so some Federalists resorted to a strategy of attacking Jefferson’s moral character. For instance, theocratic Christians on the “religious right” of their day accused Jefferson of heresy — though that was partly because of his views on religious freedom and religious pluralism, and the necessity for government to be neutral regarding religion.
You see, theocratic right-wing Christians simply ignored the wisdom and intent of America’s Founders and Framers of the Constitution, and they also ignored the basic, core teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. That’s the irony. Instead, they believed Christianity must rule, and as Christians they must rule. So they strongly objected to Jefferson’s views, and especially to his role in establishing the Virginia State Constitution, which was the first state constitution in the nation, written back in 1776.
The Theocrats objected to it because it had set a precedent that was followed when the U.S. Constitution was written in 1787. And the Theocrats hated both of those documents because the authors had deliberately avoided any mention of the name of Jesus, or any use the word Lord. Instead, both documents were deliberately generic and neutral regarding religion.
That is why Jefferson made it very clear to Theocrats that the intent of the First Amendment to the Constitution’s was to build “a wall of separation between church and state.” But theocratic Christian clergy would not accept that then, as they don’t accept it today. They preferred to believe, and they still prefer to believe, that religious freedom means the freedom for them to try to impose their religion on everyone else.
Now there’s much more to that story, and Jefferson’s views on religion are fascinating and revealing. But I’ll leave it at that now, and I’ll just say that those are some of the reasons that the contest between Jefferson and the Federalists was so very divisive, and bitterly fought. But the election was very close, even so – so close that Adams won by only three electoral votes.
But one of the sad things about it is that such an offensive campaign caused hard feelings between Adams and Jefferson. And that conflict became even sharper in the later contest in 1800 between the two of them, which by the way Jefferson won by a much larger margin to unseat the incumbent President Adams. But that caused even harder feelings.
Those campaigns were a shame. For one thing, the partisan political feud drew battle lines and created enemies, and that was a shame especially because Jefferson and Adams had been very good friends prior to their political rivalry (and later in their lives they became even better friends, corresponding regularly in letters).
But another reason those contests were a shame is that even though Jefferson’s victory and presidency was very good for the nation in many ways, the formation of partisan political parties and the fights between those two parties set a bad precedent that has been followed ever since by partisan politicians – and that it has prevented real Democracy in America.
The Ongoing Consequences of the First Partisan Political Battle In the U.S.
Now fortunately for America, in the 1930s and 1940s the presidency of Franklin D. Roosevelt brought the vast majority of the people back together thanks to the New Deal programs, and also to Roosevelt’s needed regulation of corporations and banks, and thanks to the growth of the organized labor movement.
But in the 1950s, the forces of greed and self-interest began plotting, and they have gradually, over the decades, come roaring back with a vengeance. Of course, in the 1960s they were set back for awhile. But they did their dirty work and were able to come back in the 1970s. Then they gained huge momentum in the 1980s, having found a very charming television pitch man to represent them. But even though he was very charming and fooled a lot of Americans because he appealed to their pride and prejudices, the right-wing partisan politics of such demagogues have caused increasingly bitter conflicts and deeper divisions in America.
Now today, since America is so divided by conflict, and since the political economic system has become so corrupted that we are ruled by Plutocracy regardless of which party wins power, all Americans should now remember some words written in 1776 by John Adams, because his words show that regarding the most important things, Adams strongly agreed with Thomas Jefferson. So let me quote the words of John Adams in 1776:
“Government is instituted for the common good; for the protection, safety, prosperity and happiness of the people; and not for the profit, honor, or private interest of any one man, family, or class of men. Therefore the people alone have an incontestable, unalienable, and indefeasible right to institute government and to reform, alter, or totally change the same, when their protection, safety, prosperity and happiness require.”
Those are words we need to remember today. They were the words John Adams wrote in 1776 because he agreed with Jefferson. And Jefferson wrote the following words in the Declaration of Independence:
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness; that to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that whenever any form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness."
So you can see that Jefferson and Adams agreed. And they were among the majority of America’s Founders and Framers of the Constitution who felt the same way. And that is why, in Article 5 of the U.S. Constitution established later in 1787, they provided for the fact that we the people would some day find it necessary to reform and alter the U.S. Government, especially when it denies or obstructs or impedes the equal rights and equal opportunities of the people, and acts in ways that are detrimental to most of our lives, our livelihoods, our health, our safety, our liberty, our prosperity, and our pursuit of happiness.
Such is the case now. And we, the people, need to do something about it, and do it in a legal and peaceful way.
A Solution To Establish Real Democracy, and Government Of, By, and For the People
Americans should now utilize the provisions provided in Article 5 of the Constitution, because it enables us to establish new amendments to the Constitution, and even repeal or revise and improve or clarify existing articles and amendments.
We need to do that now in order to establish our full and equal rights and equal opportunities, and to establish real Democracy with government that is actually of the people, by the people, and for the people – government that will promote the general welfare, as the Founders and Framers intended; use the common wealth for the common good; and ensure domestic tranquility by guaranteeing fairness and justice for all the people, along with equality of all religions, races, genders, nationalities, and cultures, because that is the real American Way. And don’t let anyone tell you differently.
Now you probably still wonder how will we, the people, bring about a Constitutional Convention to alter and reform our government. Well, that’s why The 21st Century Declaration of Independence written back in 2006. It has been improved over the years since then as feedback about it was received from many people on Internet discussion forums. It is an updated and enhanced version of the original Declaration, and the article about it, which includes it, suggests how we, the people, can bring about a Constitutional Convention — because it will not be easy. It will require work from all of us.
The new Declaration suggests a framework to build upon – a framework which members of a Constitutional Convention could work with. The Declaration suggests how we could stop the rule of money and take money out of the whole political electoral process. It suggests how we can eliminate the presidential form of monarchy and thus eliminate the divisive competition for the throne. And it suggests we do so by replacing the chief executive with an executive council consisting of six men and six women, to be nominated and elected directly by the people through the write-in ballot.
Now some of you will be shocked by that. But think about it, and look into it, because that would give you, the voter, the equal right and equal opportunity to name who you want to represent us. And if we, the people, name, nominate and elect good, progressive men and women who are known for their good works, regardless of their occupation – who strive to do things that are beneficial to everyone – who are well known for their good judgment, wisdom, fairness, generosity, and desire for social justice – then we could be governed by an executive council of wise people who accept our call for their public service and leadership.
But equally as important, I must stress again that this would replace partisan political campaigns and the competition for the throne, which merely perpetuates corruption, conflict and division.
But above all, and more essentially, this would cure our main problem — because after all, as Jesus of Nazareth said, and as Abraham Lincoln quoted, a house divided against itself cannot stand.
Elaboration and Summary
Even though the author criticizes greedy rich people, it should also be said that there is nothing wrong with being rich — if and when the rich person deserves great reward for their hard works, their good works, and for their skills and talent. However, greed and selfishness are still wrong, and any true servant of God rebukes the forces of greed and self-interest who enjoy ill-gotten gains and unjust profits, and use their wealth to gain political power.
That should be understood, and the basic partisan political division should be explained, because Republicans still believe that laws and legislation should benefit the wealthy. And that’s not just because they think they are entitled to power and privilege. It’s also because they claim, as Ronald Reagan claimed, that their wealth will naturally trickle down and benefit everyone. And even though that’s been proven false in the last three decades, since the middle class keeps shrinking and the working poor population keeps growing, Reaganites still insist it’s true.
Fortunately on the other side of the political isle there are still a few ethical and honest New Deal Democrats left who believe that legislation should enable the vast majority of the people to become prosperous because widespread prosperity will benefit all the people and the whole country in many ways.
The facts – the historical facts, show very clearly which political ideology serves the best interests of the people, and the country. But in spite of the facts, the power of money has enabled the forces of greed and self-interest to fool many gullible Americans and convince them that the Reaganite way of governance is both “patriotic and religious,” as they claim, even though it actually violates the intent of America’s Founders and actually turns Christianity up-side-down. And they claim that what’s good for business is good for everyone, even though the truth is that what’s best for business is what’s best for everyone.
But the worst thing about it is that during the last three decades since Republicans have become increasingly more extreme in their right-wing views, Democrats, especially since the 1990s, have done what’s politically expedient and they have moved further and further toward the right due to the popularity of Ronald Reagan. But in doing so, Democrats have helped to perpetuate Reaganism and trickle down Reaganomics, which Reaganites like to call “supply side economics.” But that is why today both Democrats and Republicans cater to and serve the interest of the wealthiest few and their banks and corporations.
But even so, Republicans are still more zealous and more blatant in advocating for the wealthiest few, and they fight unreasonably and unfairly to give the rich and their banks and corporations free rein and special privileges.
The articles on this site discuss these issues thoroughly. You can read them, and please consider what what they say, for sake of Real Democracy, and for the sake of our Liberty. It’s in your hands.
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Extra But Crucial Information
Why Americans Need Understand the Views of Thomas Jefferson and James Madison,
and the Majority of America’s Founders
What semblance of Democracy America had has nearly been destroyed in America during the last 33 years in favor of a Plutocracy whereby the wealthiest few control government. That destruction of Democracy and the increasing empowerment of the wealthiest few has been the deliberate work of the forces of greed and self-interest who masquerade as “religious patriots.” They claim to serve God and Country, and they claim to represent the views of America’s Founders. But they don’t. Instead, they dishonor the Founders by claiming America was never meant to be a Democracy.
That is why the truth must be told, because this is not merely to show Americans why we do not yet have a real Democracy, and it is not merely to show how and why we should establish it. The purpose is also to direct your attention to the fact that America was intended to be a Democratic Republic with a Democracy that actually serves the common good for the benefit of all the people, recognizing that we are all created equal and endowed by our Creator with unalienable human rights.
In spite of that, there is a persistent claim being made that the Founders intended America to be a Republic and not a Democracy. Even the progressive intellectual professor Noam Chomsky seems to subscribe to that interpretation, and he even mentions James Madison’s comment about protecting the “minority of the opulent" from the majority. However, in bringing up the issue Chomsky merely lends credibility to the many Republicans and Libertarians who falsely claim that the majority of the Founders wanted a plutocratic Republic ruled by representatives of a so-called "deserving and superior" aristocracy based on financial status and wealth.
To push that claim they have not only distorted Madison's views. They have distorted Jefferson’s views, and they have actually fabricated false statements they attribute to Jefferson.
For example, they often attribute a false, fabricated quote to Thomas Jefferson, claiming that he said or wrote: “A democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where fifty-one percent of the people may take away the rights of the other forty-nine.”
However, Jefferson never said that. According to those who created and maintain Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello web site, the earliest known appearances of that “quote” in print were in 2004, and there is no evidence to confirm that Thomas Jefferson ever said or wrote such a statement. (In fact, they found that the source of that statement's attribution to Thomas Jefferson is unknown, after searching the following sources for its earliest appearance in print: Google Books, Google Scholar, Amazon.com, Internet Archive, America's Historical Newspapers, American Broadsides and Ephemera Series I, Early American Imprints Series I and II, Early English Books Online, Eighteenth Century Collections Online, 19th Century U.S. Newspapers, and American Periodicals Series Online.)
Another false quote that's been spread around the Internet is that Jefferson wrote: “The Democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not.”
Jefferson did not say that either. That quotation has not been found in any of his writings. It is merely misleading propaganda spread in recent years by right-wing Libertarians and Republicans.
The fact is that Jefferson wrote: “I deem it the duty of every man to devote a certain portion of his income for charitable purposes; and that it is his further duty to see it so applied and to do the most good for which it is capable.”
Regarding Democracy, in 1825 Thomas Jefferson was concerned about Democracy being threatened by those who preferred rule by a rich Aristocracy. He wrote of "vast accession of strength from their younger recruits, who having nothing in them of the feelings or principles of '76 now look to a single and splendid government of an Aristocracy, founded on banking institutions and monied in corporations under the guise and cloak of their favored branches of manufactures commerce and navigation, riding and ruling over the plundered ploughman and beggared yeomanry."
Thus Jefferson's comment was warning that undue influence by rich Aristocrats, banks and rich corporations would be the end of Democracy and the defeat of the American revolution. (And that turned out to be prophetic.)
Another attempt to claim that Founders like Jefferson and Madison were against Democracy is based on misinterpretation of one sentence uttered by James Madison on June 26th, 1787 during the Constitutional Convention, and it is misinterpreted to falsely claim that Madison was against Democracy.
On that day during debate regarding the content of the Constitution, Madison mentioned that the Senate should protect the “minority of the opulent” as a “balance and check” against any efforts on behalf of the majority that might be made by the House of Representatives. Madison's concern, apparently, was that the property rights of the rich minority might be infringed upon by the majority.
It may have been that Madison was revealing his British roots. After all, in 1706 and 1707 the model for the modern British Parliament was established, and it consists of an appointed House of Lords, and a democratically elected House of Commons. So, in 1787 when the Constitutional Convention convened to establish the U.S. Constitution, Madison may have been thinking of a Senate a little more equivalent to the British House of Lords, which would “protect the minority of the opulent” against the majority represented by the equivalent of the House of Commons, the House of Representatives.
However, while that could have been what Madison was thinking about, when you consider Madison's views in context, it is very doubtful that he was talking about any such equivalency. It is far more likely that he was merely concerned about protecting property rights in the British tradition. Furthermore, to take a statement by Madison on one day out of context to conclude that the U.S. Government was founded to favor the wealthy is not merely inaccurate, but unfair. After all, protecting the rights of wealthy land owners from the majority is very different than favoring the wealthy and giving them special rights and privileges. Madison was against that, even though did feel that the rights of land and property owners should be protected.
The problem is that today there are people on both the far right and the far left who don't understand that. They interpret Madison’s words to mean that he was against Democracy and for a Republic in which the wealthiest few would rule by legal mandate, “protected” from majority rule. But that is simply not true.
Those who arrive at that conclusion base it on, among other things, one paragraph and especially one sentence that could be interpreted to indicate that government ought to be so constituted as to give the rich political and legal power over the average common people. However, that is not what Madison said or meant.
If you read the notes taken by one of the delegates on that day, you can see that even though Madison was alluding to the British Parliamentary model, he was merely speaking of the role of the American Senate in relationship to the House of Representatives, and if you examine the discussion held at the Convention in context you can see how and why Madison’s agenda was to establish a Democratic Republic in which there were adequate checks and balances to ensure fairness to all the people, as well as protect property rights.
After all, Madison really did not approve of the British government, and the American Declaration of Independence was written and the Revolution was fought because of the abuses of power by the British King and House of Lords, which represented the British monarchy, royalty and aristocracy. And Madison, like Jefferson, despised abuses of power by the rich elite and wanted to ensure that the power of money would not be used like that any more.
Granted, the idea of an aristocratic U.S. Senate would seem to be credible if you consider that Article 1 of the Constitution originally tipulated that two Senators from each state will be chosen by each state Legislature (not by the people of the state). That could have enabled state Legislators to choose rich Aristocrats as Senators. However, state Legislatures could elect anyone as a Senator, regardless of their financial status. And after 1913 when the 17th Amendment superseded that part of Article 1 and declared that the people would elect their own Senators, the people could elect anyone as a Senator, regardless of their financial status.
Of course Madison may have assumed state Legislators would elect wealthy people to the Senate. However, the Constitution does not say anything about electing wealthy people. The original membership of the Senate depended on who state Legislators elected, and after 1913 it has depended on who the people elected. Therefore, there have been and can be democratic, progressive Senators who would vote and legislate in the interests of the great majority, against the interests of a greedy, selfish, wealthy few when need be.
Unfortunately, as it has turned out, Billionaires have been enabled to spend as much money as they want to support their candidates and try to influence (or buy) elections, and money is really the deciding factor in far too many cases. The people really don't have free choice. They get to choose between candidates who are presented to them, and they usually vote for the candidates who have been provided with the most financial backing to buy the most television ads, whether they are attack ads against their opponent, or the rare positive advocacy ads.
But this corrupt system betrays the spirit of 1776, and the intent of the Founders. And we should respect the driving concept of America which is that we, the people, are created equal, that power is to be vested in the people, and that no rich individuals or class of men should rule on the basis of wealth.
Further Misinterpretation of Madison's Words
In spite of the facts and the truth, another reason some people make the mistake of misinterpreting Madison, especially regarding the false claim that he was “against Democracy,” is because of what Madison wrote in Federalist Paper No. 10.
That is an essay published on November 22, 1787, after the U.S. Constitution was written. That essay addressed the question of how to guard against "factions" or parties or groups of citizens whose special interests are contrary to the rights of others, or contrary to the interests of a whole community, state, or nation.
Madison’s No. 10 essay continues a theme that was begun by Alexander Hamilton in Federalist Paper No. 9, and thus Madison titled his essay "The Same Subject Continued: The Utility of the Union as a Safeguard Against Domestic Faction and Insurrection."
In speaking of Democracy, Madison presented a hypothetical case. He wrote: “[I]t may be concluded that a pure democracy, by which I mean a society consisting of a small number of citizens, who assemble and administer the government in person, can admit of no cure for the mischiefs of faction.”
Madison suggested that a “small” democracy cannot avoid the dangers of a faction because in a small nation-state bad influences and passions can very easily spread to the majority -- a majority which can then enact its will through their democratic government. Thus, even though Madison made it very clear he is speaking of a “small” democracy as differentiated from a large democratic republic, today some misguided people think he was speaking of a general weakness of Democracy.
Some people misinterpret Federalist No. 10 in the same way they misinterpret Madison’s speech during the Constitutional Convention on June 26th, 1787, because in the No. 10 paper, following the paragraph on a small democracy, Madison makes this statement: “A republic, by which I mean a government in which the scheme of representation takes place, opens a different prospect, and promises the cure for which we are seeking.”
Madison was merely referring to representative government, and as historic documents written between July 1776 and 1800 tell us, James Madison was not “against Democracy.” In fact, he was in favor of a Democratic Republic, which is why he joined Thomas Jefferson in organizing The Democratic Republican Party in 1792 to counter The Federalist Party that Alexander Hamilton had organized earlier, which favored government that would unashamedly entitle wealthy aristocrats, banks and businesses with more political power.
These facts reveal the importance of understanding the differences between the two competing world views represented most by Jefferson and Hamilton, but they especially reveal the importance of understanding that Madison was far more closely allied with Jefferson than with Hamilton. For while the Federalist Papers were written by Hamilton, Madison and John Jay, Madison was not of like mind with Hamilton or Jay, but thought more like Jefferson.
For example, in Federalist No. 2, John Jay issued an opinion that America should be constituted of "one united people—a people descended from the same ancestors, the same language, professing the same religion." However, Jay’s opinion was not consistent with the spirit of the Declaration of Independence, or with the U.S. Constitution (especially Article 6 and the First Amendment), which spoke of “all men” being created equal, and required government to be neutral regarding religions. (See Quotes From America’s Founders Regarding Religion.)
Madison stood with Jefferson and the majority of America’s Founders and Framers of the Constitution, who believed and acted in the spirit of the Declaration of Independence and in the spirit of Jeffersonian Democracy.
Furthermore, it is no coincidence that what Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence that “these truths [are] self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights ...” was echoed by John Adams, who wrote: “Government is instituted for the common good; for the protection, safety, prosperity and happiness of the people; and not for the profit, honor, or private interest of any one man, family, or class of men.”
That speaks of a Democratic Republic, and it advocates of the common good, protection, safety, prosperity and happiness of all the people.
Where Does All This Leave Us?
A Practical View of the American Political Climate, and Outlook for Reformation
As things are now it is easy to assume that it would be impossible to bring about a Constitutional Convention that would alter and reform our government (as is needed and is our right and duty to do, and as is recommended in the article on The 21st Century Declaration of Independence). However, that assumption is based on the equally wrong assumption that the partisan political climate will remain as it is -- rife with bitter conflict and division that causes the American people to fight for power over each other.
Both assumptions are based on the current partisan political climate in which the Republican Party and the Koch Libertarian Tea Party are somewhat at odds but both entrenched on the far right, representing the rich forces of greed and self-interest which operate under the Reaganite cloak of "patriotism and religiosity."
At the same time, the Democratic Party is also divided, because in 1992, in order to do what was politically expedient and get elected, Bill Clinton moved to the right of middle, forced to do so by the popularity of Reaganism. (In fact, President Clinton went along with a Republican-dominated Congress to enact such legislation as the so-call "Welfare Reform" of 1996, which proved disastrous for the poor in America.) Since then, many Democrats have been called "Republicrats" and "Corporate Democrats," as opposed to the dwindling number of Democrats who are still more attuned to the humanitarian principles of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's Democratic New Deal.
Today in 2015 both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are considered by many liberal progressives to be Corporate Democrats, while Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders still advocate policies that are more in tune with Roosevelt's New Deal. That's is, like Roosevelt, ethical Democrats want to institute greater and more effective reforms and regulations to deal with the unbridled greed and corruption that has nearly ruined this country again (as it almost did in 1929), and they want to, among other things, establish campaign finance reform so that the rich cannot buy elections, correct the absurd income disparity, and require the wealthiest few to at least pay their fair share of taxes.
Unfortunately, Democrats have either been unable or unwilling to deal with the cloaked wickedness of Reaganism. In fact, Barack Obama has invoked Reagan's name on several occasions, and he perpetuated several of the Reaganite-Bush policies. Thus Reaganism was continued and expanded to the point where the five right-wing Justices on the Supreme Court felt comfortable in making rulings (on Citizens United and McCutcheon) that blatantly enabled the rich to do as they please to buy elections. And the Federalist Society and the Koch brothers and their Cato Institute, Heritage Foundation, Citizens for a Sound Economy, Americans for Prosperity Foundation and Tea Party have essentially had their way in shaping the American mainstream political climate.
That is why we need to reform and alter our government, because as it is, the whole political economic system is rigged to favor and entitle the wealthiest few and the forces of greed and self-interest.
We, the people, can do that, but it is going to take a grass roots populist movement to do it, and Americans are going to have to let go of the idea that a conquering hero is going to come along to save them. American's are going to have to face the fact that in order to have government that is actually of the people, by the people, and for the people, we are going to have to make it so, and stop perpetuating the divisive contest for the throne.
Of course, as long as America continues to perpetuate the divisive contest for the throne, it is possible that we could save America for awhile -- by electing another New Deal Democrat who would fight for the principles of Jefferson and Roosevelt. But, even if there were one who had the kind of widely popular appeal that Franklin D. Roosevelt had, and we were able to elect him or her, how long would the reforms and regulations last?
Remember, the great legacy of Roosevelt's New Deal has been nearly destroyed by Reaganism, and Reaganites are still attempting to destroy it completely. Therefore, another charming demagogue like Reagan could and probably would come along later, appealing to the pride and prejudices of Americans rather than to humanitarian Jeffersonian principles, and could simply wipe out any reforms and improvements a progressive reformer might have been able to make. History could repeat itself, as it has done so many times because people don't learn or simply forget the lessons of history.
Ultimately, Americans need to acknowledge what needs to be done to establish stable, sustainable, good government, and do it.
Meanwhile, the Messenger still sings a song, the first verse of which says:
"How many people can see my way? How many races have I run? How many years have I been dying to say, 'Now we can do what must be done?'" -- From the song How Many? by J.J. Jeffers