Do We Need Politicians, Or Can We Cut Out the Middleman?

American Politicians Are Bought and Paid For

Virtually all independent economists and financial experts agree that the economy cannot stabilize or recover unless the giant, insolvent banks are broken up (and here and here). And the very size of the big banks is also warping our entire political system.

Politicians are wholly bought and paid for. As famed trend forecaster Gerald Celente writes in the current Trends Journal:

Politics today is little more than legalized prostitution. While a streetwalker gets busted for selling her body to a john, politicians get rewarded with campaign contributions for selling their souls to a corporation or lobbyist. With all of the whoring going on – the money exchanged and the pleasures lavished – the only
one actually getting screwed was John Q. Public.

But the chairman of the Department of Economics at George Mason University (Donald J. Boudreaux) says that calling politicians prostitutes is inaccurate – because it is being too nice. Specifically, Boudreaux says that it is more correct to call politicians “pimps”, since they are pimping out the American people to the financial giants.

So the state of banking and politics in America is grim, indeed. But do we really even need banks or politicians? Or can we cut out the middle man?

This post looks at whether we can use Direct Democracy to cut out the corrupt political middleman. In a separate essay, we look at whether we can use alternative financial arrangements to cut out the big banks as financial middleman.

Do We Need Politicians … Or Can We Cut Out the Corrupt Middleman?

Gerald Celente writes in this month’s Trends Journal:

For some years we’ve been seeing the promising stirrings of a global Renaissance;
a “new order” that would reject the gross materialism, excessive consumerism and
glorified militarism that has dominated contemporary western societies. But each initiative undertaken to retrofit and change the failing system has had its momentum blocked or sabotaged by the entrenched agents of “no change.”

***

Therefore, I’ve come to the conclusion that the only solution is to take that control
from the handful of “them” – the power possessors and power brokers – and put the
power into the hands of the people. But how?

***

I propose … of Direct Democracy – a potentially globe-changing movement that would replace today’s “representative democracy.” Positive change will not and cannot occur until power is taken away from the power obsessed.

While, in 2011, no one would dream of reinstituting the divine right of kings, what
is passed off today as “Democracy” is little more than a structure to clandestinely
support an ersatz nobility that perpetuates that very divine right practice.
The Direct Democracy solution I propose will not only transfer power to the
public (for better or for worse!), it will make “we the people” fully responsible for
creating the future. The choice is stark. Either we take action to create our destiny, or
others will continue to create it for us … and judging by past performance, we’re not
going to like what they create.

***

Regardless of who is elected – Republican or Democrat – the only solution I can see at this time that could save America (and be applied worldwide) is to take the power out of the hands of politicians and put it into the hands of the people.

In Switzerland, where this is practiced, it is called “Direct Democracy.” The people vote on major issues that affect them locally and globally, and the elected officials (whether they agree or not) perform their duties as “public servants,” carrying out the will of the people.

The US and other nations that call themselves “democratic” have “representative democracy.” In theory, elected officials pledged to carry out (represent) the will of the people. But, in practice, at least in modern memory, most elected officials carry out the will of special interests whose “campaign contributions” (a.k.a. bribes and payoffs) assure their subservience. While most everybody knows this, it’s both tolerated and
accepted as political business as usual.

***

Given today’s dire socioeconomic and geopolitical conditions and our forecast for them to dramatically deteriorate, I believe that changing from a faux-representative democracy to Direct Democracy would be a giant step in the right direction. If the Swiss can do it successfully, why can’t anyone else?

***

WHERE TO START Understanding the tremendous power that social networking
played in galvanizing the revolutions of the “Arab Spring” and the uprisings and protests raging through Europe, I propose using the same model to bring about a Direct Democracy revolution.

***

It should never be forgotten that no law is immutable. Laws are made only to be superseded by new laws. No clearer example can be given than the wholesale raping of the Constitution by the Supreme Court and successive presidents. What better time to write a new one? If the Founding Fathers could pull it off with horses, sheer will and quill pens, surely 21st century revolutionaries can make Direct Democracy a reality with the strokes of a keyboard. Not only can the Internet serve as the galvanizing force
to bring about Direct Democracy, it can also be used as the 21st century ballot box.

“Voting online could be subject to hacking and fraud,” the entrenched parties will argue. But casting a vote online is no more susceptible to “irregularities” than casting a vote at the polling place … be it stuffing the ballot boxes or rigging the voting machines.

In fact, voting online, with full transparency, would prove more secure than any polling place run by party operatives. I say, “If you can bank online, buy online, gamble on line, you can vote online!” Going to vote should be easier than going
to the ATM. And if you don’t have your own computer, there’s always the polling place.

It is due time Thomas Jefferson’s vision that “… in due time the voice of the people will
be heard and their latent wisdom will prevail,” prevails.

***

Publisher’s Note: “Representative Democracy,” the form of government we adhere to in the West, is no more than a cruel sham, a bone thrown to the proles following the overthrow of the aristocracies of the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries. The restive public was gulled into believing that, by voting for members of political parties pledged to represent their interests, their voices would be heard.

While attractive in principle, in practice, political parties come to represent the same very rich and very powerful interests that have ruled throughout history. Only the names and ranks have changed. No longer called Kings, Queens, Czars, Dukes and Barons, the new aristocracy is called the “too big to fail.”

***

Thinking people everywhere are recognizing that Direct Democracy can provide a blueprint for revolution in the New Millennium. Non-violent, intellectually and philosophically sound, emotionally empowering, and potentially inexorable … the greatest obstacle to Direct Democracy is to do nothing.

Celente also includes in his latest newsletter an article on direct democracy from Thomas H. Naylor. Naylor is Professor Emeritus of Economics at Duke University. For thirty years, he taught economics, management science, and computer science at Duke. As an international management consultant specializing in strategic management, Dr. Naylor has advised major corporations and governments in over thirty countries.

Naylor writes:

Taking note of the unsustainable, unfixable, gridlock nature of the US government and its inability to fix the American economy, Gerald Celente has proposed that the United States turn to Swiss-style Direct Democracy as an alternative way to resolve such divisive issues as the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the magnitude of the government’s budget deficit, how to finance health care, the size of the defense budget, and national immigration policy. He envisions this being carried out on the Internet.

***

Over the past 700 or so years Switzerland has developed a unique social and political structure, with a strong emphasis on federalism and Direct Democracy….

Switzerland has a coalition government with a rotating presidency, in which the president serves for only one year. Many Swiss do not know who of the seven Federal Councillors in the government is the president at any given time, since he or she is first among equals. In Switzerland a petition signed by 100,000 voters can force a nationwide vote on a proposed constitutional change and the signatures of only 50,000 voters can force a national referendum on any federal law passed by Parliament.

Among the high profile issues that have been resolved by Swiss national referendums
are women’s voting rights, abortion rights, creation of a new canton, abolition of the army, and Swiss membership in the League of Nations, United Nations, World Bank, IMF, and the European Union.

***

Most political scientists agree that the Swiss have taken the concept of democracy to levels heretofore unattainable any place else in the world. In his excellent book Direct Democracy in Switzerland (Transaction Publishers, 2002), Gregory Fossedal describes Switzerland as “a Direct Democracy, in which, to an extent, the people pass their own laws, judge the constitutionality of statutes, and even have written, in effect, their own constitution.” That’s a lot!

All of this is in stark contrast to the United States in which our government is owned, operated, and controlled by Wall Street, Corporate America, the Pentagon, and domestic and foreign lobbies. Whereas the primary role of Swiss Direct Democracy is to protect the Swiss people from the Swiss government, the US government is more concerned with protecting its powerful clients from the will of the American people. In Switzerland the people own their government. In the
United States the government owns us.

[Given how much larger the U.S. is than Switzerland, and our different politicial system, it would be challenging to institute Direct Democracy in the U.S.]

But the alternative is a nation whose government has lost its moral authority and is tightly controlled by a self-serving military/industrial/congressional complex accountable only to itself – a nation that has become unsustainable economically, militarily, socially, environmentally, and politically. The United States is so large that it may no longer be governable and has possibly become unfixable.

If there is a way out of our nation’s death spiral, Direct Democracy just might be one of our last remaining viable options. We could do a lot worse than emulate the Swiss.

If American politicians have become so corrupt that they are beyond redemption, maybe we should use Direct Democracy to cut out the middleman.

And see this analysis by Yves Smith of how the direct democracy-like process involved in the Wall Street protests is one of its greatest strengths.

Wouldn’t Direct Democracy Lead to Mob Rule?

Some have expressed concern that direct democracy would lead to “mob rule”. In response to such fears, Gerald Celente responds:

Mob Rule? That’s precisely what we have now. The Wall Street Mob Rules. The Republican and Democrats? They’re nothing more than the White Shoe Boyz version of the Gambino’s and Bonnano’s.

Mob rule? “We the People” are too stupid to think for ourselves? What self respecting individual would look up to a House of Weiners to make life and death decisions for them? A Congressional Gang of 535 controlling the lives of 312 million … that’s mob rule!

We’re too stupid? We should bend over and suck up to The Gang of 535 … the DC Drama Queens and the Beltway Circle Jerks that put on a summer long Debt Ceiling Soap Opera … the inept and incompetents whose public spectacle was cited by Standard & Poor’s as a reason for the downgrading of US debt?

Those opposed to “Let the People Vote” are either party operatives, entrenched interests or little minds that can’t think … or are afraid to think … for themselves.

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  • Brian moloney

    Hi, nice to see the reference to Switzerland and its political model. As an expat working and living here for over twenty years I can vouch for the robustness of the system. Individual Swiss feel very involved in the political process and are very accepting of the results. It is a real democracy and despite the fact that not every minority is satisfied, they all feel they are represented and have an opportunity to be heard.
    It is very important to understand the system more deeply though. For example, the comment that Switzerland is too small for the system to work elsewhere belies the reality.
    The Swiss system is based, similarly to the US , on a Federal and State breakdown. In SWitzerland however it is the State which is stronger and the federal weaker. This is reflected by taxation where the breakdown of Swiss taxes is roughly the following: Federal 20%. State 40% and the local community or village tax 40%.
    Power is thus very devolved with most communities controlling spending and services with guidelines being provided by the Federal.
    Not so dissimilar from the original US model no?
    I guess in Switzerland case there has been no problem constraining the growth of the Federal vs that of the states as Switzerland is unable to pursue expansionary policies which require greater taxation due to it’s small size and larger neighbors.
    So the model can work in a larger country and will devolve power back to the people……

    Best regards.

  • http://www.collapsenet.com/262.html Westcoastliberal

    I’ve been blogging in my own humble way about “direct democracy” for some time now. I didn’t realize the Swiss had already adopted this, so thanks GW for the heads-up.
    This seems to me as the only solution to really once and for all cure the largesse, greed & waste in the U.S. After all, we no longer need “representatives” since we the people can assemble virtually. Let those interested and informed in what’s going on make the decisions. This is the most straightforward way to get “money of of politics”.

  • farang

    Having expressed this very sentiment many times on many comment boards over the last 3-4 years…glad to see the experts now catching up.

    I would add, as I have in the past, the other rational for dumping “Representative” government: it is an anachronism. Our founders didn’t enact a representative style of a republic because they felt those elected would govern in the best interests of the citizens.

    Heed what Franklin said about keeping our republic.

    They did so because of expediency….there simply was no time to transfer information from the land owners electing their representatives and back again in a manner that could in anyway be result in an efficient federal government. Literally a month or more could pass while information got back to constituents. That is hardly the case today. Think about it: 60% of Americans polled in March 2003 were aginst any military action against Iraq unless the UN passed a resolution to invade, which the UN did not: so Cheney invaded it anyway…based on lies.

    Trillions have been lost….as well as trillions lost with his puppet Bush’s “temporary” tax cuts for the top 1% income earners. The banksters saw this looting went unpunished and decided all was fair game: see today’s horrid mess.

    In this day and age, there simply is no reason or excuse not to change the Constitution to reflect today’s reality of instant information available for anyone competent enough to search for it.

    Like changing the Constitution to reflect a more fair democratic republic, all men, not just land owners were allowed the vote, then women, then people reaching a legal voting majority of 18…etc. I am confident my fellow Americans can govern at least as well as a Chicago bi-sexual used car salesman and what appears to be an Israel-first House and Senate.

    I’d also add the caveat that we simply implement way too many new “laws” each year, and find it incredible we were able to function last year without the added new 200 (a guess, but bet I am not far off in the amount) laws the Feds think so direly necessary. This occurs every year….how did we ever survive without all those Federal laws??? We did fine. We’ll do fine.

    I’d suggest we need to focus of 10 issues each year, study and discuss 5 of them them the first 6 months, have nation-wide debates, with election held mid-year, then repeat. This could be used to cancel the awful targeted legislation favoring the corporations their PIMPS AND WHORES in the White House and Congress implement each year, or to enact new laws as the majority see fit…within constitutional limits.

    Lastly: The USSC serves a 5 year term, then are retired at $25,000. If they go back to work: pension canceled. Then a WHOLE NEW SLATE of justices elected.

    Enough with the Masonic-style lifetime judgeships…enough. And enough of allowing any president the power to influence the nation for 4 or 5 or even 6 decades by appointing people that had never even been a judge at a beauty contest…like our “chief justice” or Obama’s good lady friends. An elected USSC…..they can show their prior decisions to the electorate..and we can decide if they are fit to serve ONE TERM.

    The president serves a 6 year term, one term only, so long, thanks for your service. $30,000/year retirement, and any “speaking fees” made will reduce that amount by fees “earned.” Fees collected over $100,000/year will be taxed at 90% rate.

    It’s supposed to be about preserving liberty, and sharing the commonwealth, and increasing the general welfare of us all.

  • James

    This is the future. Representation was needed to cover the distance and the time. Now we have the net and everyone has the time. Put it to the Universities to make “Government system 1″ that is 100% open source. They then get to look at what everyone else made and then go back for round 2. Best system wins and is used.

    Every Sunday voting is open for the weeks issues. Facebook and Twitter can muster the troops for each issue. Scariest idea there is for many.

  • Joey Tavares

    Agreed. It should be civic duty weekly for a Citizen to partake of Referendum on the Net. Direct Democracy. The middle men are nothing but corrupt; the sadists amongst us bewilde the whole. We have a Queen, and if the aliens do ever show up, damn right I want Her in Humanity’s finest off to meet ‘em, and thank Jesus it isn’t me. Net Referendum will allow us all to contribute, so that the head not be made responsible for the whole body. And may I just ask: How is it we all take a turn as Uterus? We can’t evolve like this – we’re stagnating. Let the Social Body organelle – to Each their Civic Duty.

  • Robert O’Donnell

    I have been in computers since Methuselah and can tell you very simply that computers can be ‘fixed’ to provide what ever outcome the programmers and systems analysts desire. Hacking is rampant. I agree completely with the ideas represented herein though. Making it HONEST is not an easy task. Simple errors in logic can and will be created. The nature of the beast is that. Simply the case of ‘unintended consequences’ is the rule of law. BUT, NOT to do anything because of that is unacceptable.

    FAR better to do this than not. Either we change or the world will never change.

  • The caretaker

    Could work in a highly educated society that speaks the languages of the world (so as to undrstand global issues from the local level). However, I’ve met very few Americans that have read founding fathers politics let alone Locke, Kant, ghandi, or other political theorists, and why would you, these arent touched on until the junior or senior level of a poly sci. degree. I sat in on the class because the prof from Argentina was the most well read man I’d ever met in person, didn’t apply much to chemistry….. Unfortunately, direct democracy with the level of education and involvement typical in America would, I’m afraid, result in essentially constant votes to raise the minimum wage, and the tyranny of the majority, over the the freedom of the outliers. Ive thought often on what should/could replace the current system, since I wrote a paper on the IMF bailout of *can’t remember now* in the late 90s for the college paper, and nobody but a few profs said anything more than, where did you hear about this IMF thingy…. Maybe a test to see which topics I’m qualified to vote on, I’m certain that if you had a complex electrical engineering problem, that my suggestions from a chemical background wouldn’t be much more relevant then my ten year old with out a ton of background information. After reading the Collier’s Votescam, and then seeing write in talleys ignored in the last election (I live in a place with maybe 7000 or 8000 voters and personally knew at least 25 people wrote in rp in the 08 election), I can come up with no way to get around vote fraud, which leads me to the idea of a pool of educated (languages, history, poly sci, economics, and hard sciences) individuals, draw a name out of the hat and have a benevolent dictator for a year….. For goodness sakes we have the PBS, why not stick with rep democracy and disallow any contributions and make them run on PBS?

    • http://selfgov.us Shawn Aune

      Direct democracy requires debate and debate encourages those without knowledge to seek it out. Direct democracy would lead to a better educated and informed public.

  • http://selfgov.us Shawn Aune

    We are the world governing itself.

    I am the self-aware universe taking pride in this achievement.

  • Laurel Bitsko

    I googled this thinking I cannot be the only person to think all of our politicians are corrupt and that we no longer need them due to the Internet. I did not know this existed in Switzerland. What can I do to help promote this idea! It is also amazing to me the bias and corruption in the press. This article gives me hope. Thank you to everyone involved in this article. God Bless America.

  • http://JustNo. No.

    No.

  • Bruce

    Bernie And Me!

  • Eric H.

    This is just my opinion, but although I think direct democracy (referendum) must be a component of a fair and equal society, it’s not feasible to use it to decide all of the political issues that arise. It seems to me that what usually happens is that when a people realize their political power, is that they first institute direct democracy but soon find it unwieldy. Then, because we’ve all been conditioned from birth to believe it is the only fair and just way, they delegate the decision making power via elections. Sooner or later, because representative democracy differs from aristocracy only because it is not hereditary (and not because the public has no sense), a small faction will eventually gain control of all political power.

    However, there is an alternative to representative democracy and it’s called sortition, which means choosing delegates at random. In democratic Athens, sortition was used to select a council of 500 citizens that would decide which legislation would be put to a vote. The legislation was then passed to the Assembly, which theoretically included all Athenian citizens, to be voted on. I think the Athenian system would still be too unwieldy for us today, but it does illustrate that there is an alternative to representative democracy, and that sortition and referendum can be combined in creative ways to solve problems without taking political power from the people.

    Absent some political sea change, it’s unlikely that we will see the end of representative democracy. However, it’s tempting to imagine what we could do with some form of referendum. For instance, how about a national referendum that could repeal any law, countermand any executive order, or nullify any Supreme Court decision? In other words, give the power of veto to the people. It could require a supermajority and other checks and balances to guard against frivolity or passing frenzies incited by an irresponsible or corrupt media.

    Taking another cue from democratic Athens, we could also have a referendum to call politicians to account once they have completed their term in office. It’s painfully obvious that our politicians will never, ever investigate or prosecute one of their own (unless they have consensual sex with another adult), no matter how egregious a violation of domestic or international law they have been alleged to have committed. A referendum that could appoint an independent investigator, prefer charges, and impanel a jury (using sortition, naturally) might be a little more effective than threatening to vote for someone else.

 

 

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