Squeezing out the Rest of Us

Hong Kong residents took to the streets to protest a system that enables a small percentage of people to select candidates for the ballot. That sounds familiar. In an interview with Bill Moyers, Harvard professor Lawrence Lessig remarks:

So, you know, what were they protesting about in Hong Kong? They were protesting a system, a two-stage democracy wherein the first stage, a tiny, tiny group will select the candidates who the rest of Hong Kong get to vote for. A tiny group, .024 percent of that population. Well, that is our democracy too. Because we’ve got a system where a tiny, tiny fraction of America picks the candidates who get to run by funding their campaigns. The relevant funders of campaigns are no more than the number of people proportionately that were picking the candidates in Hong Kong.

Republican operatives are busy now trying to whittle down the list of potential presidential candidates for the 2016 election. They don’t want a repeat of too many office-seekers throwing mud at one another to see which escapes with the least amount of dirt on their face. They’re seeking to coronate rather than congratulate a bludgeoned winner.

On the Democratic side, forces have been marshaled to install Hillary Clinton as the successor to Obama. A recent Nation magazine warns against rushing to judgment, given Clinton’s pro-military record and Wall Street siphoning.

And, I think, therein lies the problem with the Democratic Party. It has morphed from the ostensible defender of the working class into a sycophant of the monied interests. The Nation offers this graphic:

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Our government, regardless of party, is being brought to you by the plutocrats who insist on a quid pro quo. Their needs will be met first, leaving crumbs for the Rest of Us.

If there is a solution at hand, it’s the old-fashioned one: organize. I’d suggest that the first order of business is reclaiming the party that used to work for us; third parties in America’s electoral system don’t stand a chance.