KEEPING FAITH WITH PEOPLE
by Peter Bearse
After all the hue and cry over the well-known headline issues of the day -- health care, the economy, immigration, etc. -- what is the real, fundamental issue we face in this historic election year? It is how to keep faith with the people who elect us. “Keeping faith” is simply said. It is not so easily honored. After all, Washington is a modern version of the biblical Sodom and Gemorrah. It is bloated with power and money, both of which are addictive. It is no surprise, therefore, that most Members of Congress (MoCs), notwithstanding their good intentions, end up joining the Washington Club and playing the go-along/get-along and big-money games that dominate Congress.
Politicians are practical people, focused on their electability. The phrase “keeping faith” seems elusive. At best, it is a part of one of the typical lines of a campaign used to attract votes, like: “I’ll be your servant, working for you.” Such statements are throwaway lines because they’re unaccompanied by pledges of specific ways they would be implemented. God forbid that people should be able to hold their legislator “servant” accountable!
Yet, even from a practical point of view, “keeping faith” should be seen as a basic campaign issue. For a significant portion of the great American majority has finally awoken from a deep sleep, like a sleeping giant, recognizing that their country is in danger -- that it could go bankrupt and that we could lose our precious democratic Republic. They have seen how the political “sausage” is made and they don’t like it. They see a Congress that is a dinosaur dominated by political dinosaurs -- a Congress that has become dysfunctional, corrupted by big money and increasingly distant from those it is supposed to serve. Thus, they see a Congress that is not doing the work of “We the People” well at all. This sea-change in people’s attitudes is what makes 2014 a truly historic election year.
“Keeping faith”, therefore, spells two goals for the new, forthcoming, 114th Congress:
(1) Fixing the ways Congress does our business, and
(2) Empowering people.
These goals are interdependent. One cannot “fix” Congress without “empowering”, and vice-versa. Why? -- Because the fixin’ is not just an insiders game. Many have tried and failed from the inside. Many fine MoCs have left Congress out of frustration with its arcane rules and dysfunction. If the American people go back to sleep, all bets are off on America’s future, for real change can’t happen without them. Congress has already shown that it is unable to reform itself.
“We the People” have learned we can neither depend upon or trust “the best and the brightest” to solve even our most common problems. Without reform, all bets are off on resolving any of the most urgent “headline” issues. The pile of problems facing us, unsolved and unattended, has gotten to be too huge. They cannot be solved without engaging the collective intelligence, common sense and wisdom of “We the People.” So, we must seek to inject more “direct democracy” into both politics and government.
The major demands that people should be making of candidates for Congress, therefore, go beyond candidates just having “correct” or “popular” opinions on the headline issues. These demands are twofold -- that candidates have: (i) a strategy and a program for “fixin’” the ways Congress does “We the People”s business, and (ii) steps for enabling (“empowering”) people to make a difference on the issues of their most heartfelt concerns. Any candidate who does not provide these is not worthy of your support. For without these specific, practical programs, “keeping faith” with you in no more than an empty, “throw-away” campaign promise.
You also need a Member of Congress who would be keeping after you as much after the election as before so that you and he (or she) can indeed “make a difference” altogether, both in Washington and in your Congressional District (CD). Would you like to be invited by your newly elected MoC to be a member of an independent advisory group on issues? – so that the Member would be listening to you, not to lobbyists? If so, ask the right questions of candidates for Congress – whether they would establish such groups, provide the information they need to be effective, listen to them and take their recommendations seriously.
If you want to go back to sleep after November, then all bets are off for the future of the great American experiment that our republic represents. But why continue to be part of the problem when you can be part of the solution? If a candidate passes muster on the earlier questions, volunteer to help his or her campaign. For the only real antidote to big money in politics is more people getting involved in what should be, but is not now: THEIR politics.
Pay attention to the extent to which candidates competing for your attention are depending much more on the involvement of ordinary, workaday people than on big money donors – demonstrating a “bottom up” rather than “top down” approach to politics. Only then would politics work “for” you -- to the extent that it would be “of” you and “by” you. Such a better politics is the foundation, the sine qua non, of a better government. Isn’t it curious? The only time that politics is seen to be fresh and good is when “We the People” turn out to make it ours – the politics of “US”, not “THEM”. The winning formulas are simple but impossible to implement without YOU:
YOU + Other Engaged Citizens = Real Change, and
1% + 99% = 100.%1
If YOU, together with others, cannot make these formulas work, then the consequences are too awful to confront. Failure of the first spells the death of our democratic republic. Some political pundits have already referred to the emergence of a “plutocracy” and/or “oligarchy” here in the U.S. of A. Failure of the second spells class warfare -- an un- predictably destructive or destructively unpredictable development even though both our national and state (NH) Constitution(s) specify a “Right to Revolution.”2
Comments to me via email@example.com or 603-835-3925 would be gratefully received, seriously considered, and responded to.
PETER BEARSE, Ph.D., International Consulting Economist and author of a 3-book set on the theme of “We the People: A Conservative Populism.” MAYDAY, 2014
1 See Bearse, Peter J. (2013), 1% + 99% = 100%: How “We the People” can occupy politics, change Congress and renew the American Dream (Amazon e-book), especially Chapter 4: “Strategy for Building a Peoples Congress”. Also see the “Citizens’ Congress” page in www.politicalcommunity.us.
2 The NH state provision is more specific: Article 10 is entitled “Right to Revolution.”