Restoring Our Democracy

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The following article originally appeared on OpEd News.

Our democracy has lost its way. It has been usurped and corrupted by big moneyed forces that have turned it into a plutocracy. However, it is not irreversible and can be overcome.

We have a Constitution and a Declaration of Independence that show the way.

At times laws are enacted and Supreme Court decisions are wrongheaded, but they can be overruled and overturned. That is the brilliance, particularly the Constitution and why it has endured.

The country, at the time the Constitution was written and then approved by the states was hardly perfect. There were deep cultural divisions and practices like slavery that would take a civil war to finally end. But even ending the vestiges of formal slavery didn’t get rectified until a 100 years later, when segregation and Jim Crow laws were finally struck down in the Civil Rights Act of 1965. And we are not an egalitarian or a colorblind society as yet. We still are not perfect in this regard and maybe never will be, but the majority have transcended their outright bigotry and racism and become more tolerant.

The same can be said for women’s suffrage which didn’t get resolved until 1920. Yet in that same year, wrongheadedness prevailed with the enactment of the Volstead Act, the 18 th amendment and prohibition. Yet that mistake was subsequently rectified and overturned some 13 years later by the 21 st amendment.

So we do have a history of reform and a determination to overturn flawed law and wrongheaded cultural practices.

That is why the Constitution remains a living document, not some dead letter frozen in the past that can never be changed particularly when society’s existing norms and practices become so corrupted and dysfunctional changes are required to be enacted.

We and the country are in such a time that require deep structural reform be made.

Corporate oligarchs have usurped the electoral and political process to act for their sole benefit, which effectively changes our representative democracy and makes it a plutocracy. Our republic has been transformed into an empire that serves the corporate oligarchs. Our elections have become ritualized farces that ensure the continuation of the plutocracy as both parties and most office holders are beholden to the moneyed interests that underwrite their campaigns.

This corruption must be uprooted and discarded by outlawing ALL big moneyed contributions in the electoral process and installing a publicly financed system at every level including state, local and federal.

The Citizens United ruling by SCOTUS and the resultant flood of unlimited money in the electoral process must be ended. In January “Citizens” was directly challenged by the Montana State Supreme Court decision upholding its 100 year law banning corporate funding in state elections. The Supreme Court has stayed the Montana ruling and has required the plaintiff in Montana to explain to the Court why they object to the Montana Supreme Court’s decision upholding that 100 year old law. Justices’ Ginsburg and Breyer have weighed in on the Montana Court’s decision and called for the Court to reconsider its 2010 ruling. If as expected the Court upholds their original ruling or decides not to consider the Montana decision then the only alternative is amending the Constitution thereby overruling the Supreme Court.

Overturning or overruling “Citizens” is the key to restoring our democracy and returning our country to being a republic.

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