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Raising the Voice of the American PEOPLE

Updated on February 5, 2014

Socrates believed that democracy was the worst form of government, for two reasons: people are not equal, and so should not have equal input in government processes; citizens get politically apathetic, allowing their government to stray from its purpose. Democracy, he theorized, would inevitably become a tyranny.

Political apathy has spun this terminology into a pun for getting wasted.
Political apathy has spun this terminology into a pun for getting wasted. | Source

We the People

As a nation, we are facing significant challenges to our quality of life. Immigration reform, education reform, health care reform, climate change, challenges to attaining meaningful employment, poverty reduction, women's rights, voting rights, and the increasing cost of higher education are just a few issues plaguing the people.

With this being said, our quality of life and community depend on a strong government. We vote representatives into office that we hold accountable for solving these issues at the local and national levels. These representatives, both the House of Representatives and the Senate, make up the Congress we have all come to despise for their inefficiency.

Of all of the citizens that make up America, only 14% have faith in Congress' ability to effectively address our issues.

Approval Ratings of Congress as of 2013
Approval Ratings of Congress as of 2013 | Source

And "Them" the Government

Our government is stifled by a number of issues at the Congressional level. Bottom line, the politics of our contemporary Congress inhibits any real reform from being possible. The infighting between Democrats and Republicans and the endless campaigning for funds empowers the rich to leverage the government in ways that "the People" cannot. Harvard professor (and one of my favorite authors) Lawrence Lessig addresses this reality in his book, Republic, Lost. It is truly brilliant, and is a must read for all Americans who feel hopeless about the current political state of our nation.

Essentially, Lessig sheds light on the significance in the perception that money buys power on Capitol Hill. Most Americans perceive that money outweighs their votes, as well. Lessig asserts that even the belief that money influences legislation impacts the quality of our democracy.

Perception is reality, they say. Lessig goes there too. In several chapters, he evidences examples of money influencing public policy. Congress is suffering from dependence corruption.

The independence of Congress means that this body is completely dependent upon the People alone. The nature of the game (competition between political parties) and the mechanism used to play this game (campaign fundraising) leaves Congress susceptible to other agendas. Namely, the will of the people gets diminished over the will of the campaign funders. Our government is held hostage in activities that divert their attention from us. This deviation from the true purpose of our government, by the People, for the People, is called dependence corruption.

196% Americans, the .0000063% of America gave "almost 80% of the names spent by Super PACs in the first quarter of 2012". Dependence corruption, then, is a threat to the other 99.9999937% of us. Whether black or white, Republican or Democrat, hearing or deaf, average or special education... we are all affected. I excluded rich and poor, because that is obviously the issue here.

Do you believe in the ability of Congress to solve our problems?

See results
Political apathy has spun this terminology into a pun for getting wasted.
Political apathy has spun this terminology into a pun for getting wasted. | Source

Back to US

Corruption, or deviation from the purpose of Congress, is our common enemy. Not each other. The media works to keep us divided. We often place ourselves in groups or identify with the more obvious commonalities like race, religion, class etc. But we ignore the more obvious bonds we share. We all want to live in a safe community where there are opportunities for meaningful employment, where our children are safe and have a healthy planet to depend on for generations.Life, liberty, prosperity... these are the principles on which America was founded.

If most of us want this, then why is it not translated into action? Why are we falling through the cracks when it is us, the middle class, that is America's financial skeleton?

Corporations and companies use their vast wealth and influence to bend policy in a way that is counterproductive to our aims-- a lobbyist for a gas corp offers to throw a fundraiser for a politician, who is stressed over furthering both the party and his/her personal ambitions. This representative accepts, and now is in debt to the lobbyist. Although this is not a bribe, and no laws were broken, it is an exchange nonetheless. A gift economy is the mechanism that disenfranchises those who are not in a similar position to leverage politics.

Therefore, the cause of the hopeful but less wealthy environmentalist gets silenced over the cheers of the singularly ambitious during a political fundraiser.This is the core of the political apathy that has plagued us. We acknowledge that there are threats to our survival as humans, and our way of life as Americans, but "it is what it is" keeps us from acting. We would rather accept the status quo as flawed as it is, then try to do something about it and fail.

The most important step you can take to demand better governance is by having a conversation. Engage a neighbor, coworker, friends and family about what you have read here. Give them this url so they can explore the links at the end of the Hub.

Secondly, explore the internet to discover more about the issues that affect you. Maybe you went to the doctor and felt that the bill was outrageous. That is when you go online and research the controversial "Affordable Care Act" and come to your own opinion about how Congress is reforming your access to healthcare.There are people who have conducted research about environment and development, climate change, education reform, and yes- healthcare. Use technology to pick their brains. Allow their years of research to provide a moments insight into whats going on in Washington, and in your neighborhood.

Lastly, be the change you want to see in people. Reach out to our national representatives about what affects you. Did the Chris Christie scandal with the Port Authority that lead to lane closures on the George Washington bridge affect your commute? Say something. Fight the political coma--ignorance is not bliss.

Occupy Wall Street had it right; the 99% of us should act as one.

The Sleeping Giant

According to the May 20, 2013 issue of TIME magazine, we have a saving grace. Titled, "The New Greatest Generation: Why Millenials Will Save Us All", Joel Stein assesses the value of the nations most narcissistic, self entitled generation. He finds that our generation has more in common worldwide than we do with our elders. We are creative, innovative and are a threat to the system. How? Stein claims we are growing up without one. If music is too expensive, we hack. We use our understanding of the digital world to level the playing field.

Despite our promise, we fail to act. Stein reports that we are less politically engaged than generations before us in a significant way. People my age do not vote. They don't know their rights. But if we were more politically connected, we could change everything.

We are color blind, religiously tolerant, creative, proactive and a force to be acknowledged. We just need to educate ourselves about the cycle of corruption that weakens our voices.


Solution?

I think there is a beauty in what technology offers. Despite the ridiculous selfies, self-pitying Facebook posts, absurd tweets and redundant hash-tags, social media offers people a way to connect unlike ever before.

Let's use that to our advantage. Why are we not more able to get on the same page with the resources we have at our disposal? Facebook was said to influence the Arab Spring revolutions. What does it take for us to get the conversation started?

Use the links I provide to become more engaged. The answer lies within the ability we have to rebuild some form of community, since we do not go to town meetings anymore. Maybe the online community will be loud enough for someone to hear.

Voting Power

Do you share the pessimism of our time-- does voting matter?

See results
Political apathy has spun this terminology into a pun for getting wasted.
Political apathy has spun this terminology into a pun for getting wasted. | Source

FYI

White House Switchboard (202) 456-1414

U.S. Senate/ House of Representatives (202) 224-3121

ACLU National Office (212) 549-2500

© 2014 Jasmin Vazquez

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    • tsadjatko profile image

      TSAD 3 years ago from maybe (the guy or girl) next door

      Well yeah when the "progressive" or liberal ideology bases their playbook on any means that justifies their ends, the cornerstone of which is lying, lying about lying and corruption in general (disciples of Saul Alinsky).

    • WillStarr profile image

      WillStarr 3 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      "Corruption is the enemy. Not a rival ideology. Wouldn't you say?"

      I'd say they are one and the same, especially when the Democrat ideology forces a health care law on us that the majority of Americans oppose and will serve to vastly enrich their big insurance corporation buddies.

    • GenerationWKshop profile image
      Author

      Jasmin Vazquez 3 years ago from Poughkeepsie, New York

      Moreover, and my point in writing this Hub, is to make people realize that the campaign driven Congress is preoccupied with raising funds. This necessity to meet fundraising money means that the affluent can sustain their status quo. It doesn't seem like you are happy with America. And that is what we all share in common. If we continue to separate each other by misconceptions and classifications, they continue to maintain their influence. We all lose that way, whether Rep or Dem. Corruption is the enemy. Not a rival ideology. Wouldn't you say?

    • tsadjatko profile image

      TSAD 3 years ago from maybe (the guy or girl) next door

      Change doesn't scare America, a runaway Convention that negates the wisdom of the framers is what we should all fear.

      How about something like this

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XKtWK79yzuY

      Levin’s solution to our out-of-control federal government involves:

      (1) getting an Article V convention for proposing amendments (popularly known as a “constitutional convention”) convened and

      (2) getting some amendments proposed (and sent to the states for ratification) at such a convention to address the problem of an out-of-control federal government (such as his 11 amendment proposals as discussed in chapters two through 11 of his book "The Liberty Amendments").

    • GenerationWKshop profile image
      Author

      Jasmin Vazquez 3 years ago from Poughkeepsie, New York

      I respect your comments, and thank you for both of you participating. I am very idealistic, and think that the Constitution needs to be amended periodically to address contemporary issues. Many countries assess their constitutions regularly, and they have a more united country for it. I do not understand why America is so terrified of change.

    • WillStarr profile image

      WillStarr 3 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      "But look at the issues they ARE taking up-- more laws get passed to protect copyright owners than there are to address the 1 in 5 American children who go to sleep hungry, college tuition raising 4.9% faster than inflation, and other issues that affect us as a country."

      Protecting copyright owners is a Constitutionally authorized function of the federal government - Article One, Section Eight:

      "The Congress shall have power ... To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries;"

      Charity and education are functions of the states.

      The Constitution is clear on which powers are delegated to the federal government and which are reserved to the states. I refer you to the Tenth Amendment:

      "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."

    • tsadjatko profile image

      TSAD 3 years ago from maybe (the guy or girl) next door

      Just because the federal government is (I mean should be) limited doesn't mean your concerns have to go unanswered - by your thinking, why have fifty states, just make the federal government totalitarian. They each have a role, the federal government a limited role and the founders were wise to set it up that way.

    • GenerationWKshop profile image
      Author

      Jasmin Vazquez 3 years ago from Poughkeepsie, New York

      I totally agree with you. I think there needs to be an easier platform for intelligent discussion and access to information when it comes to elections. Less manipulation with 60 second soundbites that prove nothing about someone's ability to lead. Money is the problem. You should check out rootstrikers.org I think you will enjoy what you come across.

    • GenerationWKshop profile image
      Author

      Jasmin Vazquez 3 years ago from Poughkeepsie, New York

      WillStarr,

      Yes, the Constitution did intent to limit the scope of the federal government. But look at the issues they ARE taking up-- more laws get passed to protect copyright owners than there are to address the 1 in 5 American children who go to sleep hungry, college tuition raising 4.9% faster than inflation, and other issues that affect us as a country. And also as a world competitor. What is the need of a government that does not address the needs of it citizens as a whole? Why not just have fifty independent countries if the federal government is to do nothing to advance the growth of its people?

    • tsadjatko profile image

      TSAD 3 years ago from maybe (the guy or girl) next door

      Money, yeah that is the problem - you know the only way to solve that is to outlaw it.

      Election campaigns aren't about issues anymore, they are run like advertisements for products nobody really needs and that takes tons of money.

      I think we should try something different and start with just the presidential elections. Have designated TV stations, websites and radio stations that reach every part of the country only for each party which can have an equal amount of time 24 hours a day to present their candidate. Outlaw all campaign commercials or any campaign coverage by the media other than what is on these channels. Have the outlets be financed totally by the government so candidates don't even have to spend money to be on the channels (hey if we can spend 17 trillion dollars we don't have we can afford to pay the overhead for an election process that eliminates the possibility of big money controlling the outcome).

      Sure there are a lot of people who will be too lazy to tune in, pay attention to the issues or even care - fine hopefully they won't care enough to vote either because we don't need more uninformed voters. On the other hand instead of voting based on 10 second video clip promotions in commercials people would be forced to investigate and actually understand why the candidates are running.

      At least the focus would be turned to the candidates and what they stand for or propose and we won't have to debate whether it is worse to put your dog in a dog crate on your Winnebago or eat him. We just have to outlaw the manipulative use of the money or this problem will never be solved.

    • WillStarr profile image

      WillStarr 3 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Our Constitution was designed to severely limit the size, scope, and authority of our federal government. It granted certain limited powers, while simultaneously protecting the freedom, rights, and liberties of We, the People who created the Constitution.

      Most of the concerns you mentioned are actually outside the intended scope of the Constitutional authority granted to the federal government and should be the concerns of the states. Only skewed rulings concerning the Commerce and General Welfare clauses empower the federal government to do just about anything it wants.

      Government is now almost all powerful, and the great experiment has failed.