You’ve probably heard that the Greeks of the Classical Era invented “democracy” over 2,000 years ago. However, what they invented wasn’t “democracy” as we know it today. Back then in Athens representatives weren’t elected, they were “selected” by a lottery. Every Athenian male citizen (citizenship also meant military service in time of war) was eligible to be selected through a lottery as a representative of the citizens of Athens. Interesting concept if you stop and think about it.
Unlike today, when people run for election to public office, the Athenians believed that the best solution to creating an honest government to serve the citizens of the city was through selection by a lottery. They had already found out the hard way that voting in representatives by popular vote often later resulted in problems as the representative “pandered” to those who might help him win the next election. Sounds just like our Congressmen of today, doesn’t it? Who as Mark Twain remarked back then, formed “our own native criminal class”. Things aren’t that much better right now!
Interestingly enough, our Founding Fathers, who greatly admired the Greeks and the Romans of the Classical era (learning to read Latin and Greek was the mark of an educated man), apparently didn’t think the idea of copying the Athenians’ political system was that good an idea. Most likely because a demarchy wouldn’t “protect” wealth and property as a system of only allowing those of “means” (by the standards of the time) to have the right to vote. You will note if you ever have read the “Federalist Papers” that voting was to be restricted to men who owned “property”. This did not mean owning a house as we might so think today, but it meant owning “income producing property”. Property from which you could earn an income sufficient to live upon. Like a shop keeper, or say a doctor or lawyer. Ordinary workers weren’t allowed the vote until later on in the 19th Century. Even then, people could only vote for members of the House of Representatives. Members of the Senate were selected by state governments, not by a vote of the people. The President was actually “selected” by the electoral college, not by a direct vote of the people. We still have the electoral college today, 224 years later. We also have a government “divided” against itself. Three separate branches of government. Executive, Legislative (divided further into a House of Representatives and a Senate) and an independent judiciary in the form of the Supreme Court. Most of the rest of the developed world uses the parliamentary system, as does England, from which we separated ourselves starting in 1775. Later forming into a nation in 1789 with the passage of the Constitution. The major reason we have the sort of federal political system that we have today is that the Founding Fathers were also very distrustful of “government” as such, and wanted to make sure that any federal government would be kept as “docile” as was humanly possible. The individual states were supposed to be semi-independent in the form of a federation, but the federal government eventually came to be the ruling power when the forces of the “Union” won the Civil War against the “Confederacy” in 1865. After this, the power of the federal government versus that of the states was much greater, with the result that the states then became less and less important in the scheme of things while the federal government increased its power even more. Ending up with the bloated monster we see today there in Washington, D.C.
Today the federal government pretty much writes all the laws and enforces them too. The states have little real power any more to alter things. We’ve seen this now with health care, medical marijuana, immigration laws, civil rights, marriage laws regarding who can marry, and so forth. Obviously our federal government holds the same level of power as national governments do anywhere else today. All the major decisions are now made in Washington. D.C. We started out with a balance of power between state and federal government, but today the federal government effectively is the one making virtually all the decisions. We have also vested a great deal of power in our elected officials, many of whom now only serve those who provide them with the massive amounts of money necessary to win election after election. As a matter of fact, we’ve had people who served in Congress continuously for over 50 years. The current record holder is John Dingell of Michigan, who at the age of 82, has served since he was 29.
What we have created is a government of people who have made it their life work to govern. For good or bad, we have many people in Congress who have been there for decades, election after election. Who have “courted the powers that be” for economic support to retain their positions. It is no wonder today why we have the government we do. We have created for all practical purposes a “professional” political class whose first interest is in retaining their positions. Not in serving the people, but in retaining their places in Congress. Obviously a lot of these people aren’t very likely to have any fresh ideas about how to make things any better. And even if they did, would the “money interests” that decide who runs for office (and gets elected) be willing to support them?
I think the answer here is obvious. We need a better way of doing things. The Greeks of over 2,000 years ago found the best way to do this. Representatives that truly were in fact “representative” of the people they governed. We need to have a DEMARCHY! A government that truly represents the American people, not a gang of professional politicians! It’s time we started thinking of “how” we’re going to get there… And create a government that truly represents all of us. Democrat, Libertarian, Republican, and all the rest of us, whatever political beliefs we might have…