1776 & Now

 

Recently, our nation celebrated the signing of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. As we do every year, many of us joined with friends and family to eat and drink and watch fireworks together to commemorate the day we claimed our “freedom” from the British. Words like “liberty,” “democracy,” and “patriotism” are heard frequently during this holiday, and our red, white, and blue colors seem to adorn just about everything. The United States of America is a unique creation among the nations of the world – or at least, it could be.

The Founding Fathers never envisioned true democracy. In a democracy everyone gets to vote, and we’ve never had that. They created a Republic – a representative democracy – because they did not trust the common man – or woman. They only trusted the elite and gave voting rights to white male landowners who then elected a few more elites through the Electoral College.

Though our ideal is “all men are created equal,” it actually took many years for “all men,” including women, Blacks, other minorities and non-landowners to be included in that reality. Women did not get the right to vote until 1920. Though Black men had been granted voting rights in the constitutions of some states as far back as the 1700’s, it was not until the civil rights movement of the 1960’s that the privilege was widely enforced and realized.

Today, the corporatocracy controls our chosen officials who are elected by the Electoral College, not by We the People. In general, these officials have the opportunity to run for office only if they receive huge sums of money from corporations or major corporate owners, and they only win if they stand to help the corporatocracy. Elected representatives may or may not take the opinions and beliefs of their constituencies into consideration as they pass laws. Many of those laws negatively impact We the People more than the elected officials who created them, and we are caught in a broken system that continually favors the rich and powerful.

As I said in my recent book Hoodwinked, “Democracy is not failing us; we are failing democracy. We have allowed the corporations to co-opt the democratic process. In adopting our recent form of capitalism, we have taken a government of, for, and by the people and handed it over to the corporatocracy. The solution…requires a revamping of the process, along with a different approach to economics.” (page 141.)

It is time for us, the citizens of this republic, to take a stand and insist on changing the process. As I’ve written many times in this blog and my newsletters, we – you and I – have the power. We must use it by voting in the market place for businesses that are committed to serving a public interest – instead of further enriching the corporatocracy – and by voting for politicians who will defend their true constituents. We need to support the Movement to Amend and politicians who are taking a stand in favor of getting big money out of the electoral process.

Every one of us has passions and skills that can benefit the planet. We are all teachers who can educate our neighbors and loved ones about becoming part of the solution. By shopping responsibly and insisting that our elected officials serve us, learning as much as we can about the issues and options facing us, and joining with others who want a better future, we can use our power to change our government.

We have seen movements by people around the world successfully change the way their countries are governed and implement new systems and structures that will provide opportunity and resources for everyone. We can join them in creating a global Life Economy (instead of the current Death Economy) if we stay vigilant and active in working for peace and prosperity.

More than 200 hundred years ago, before the capability that we now have to communicate with each other instantly all over the globe, our founding fathers envisioned a government that they believed would provide the groundwork for a prosperous, just, and peaceful future. It was an imperfect vision on their part and one that never reached fruition. Now is the time for us to take a global leadership role. As we watch the glaciers melt and many species go extinct, we know that we cannot wait any longer. We can succeed where they failed. We must act!

About John Perkins

John is a founder and board member of Dream Change & The Pachamama Alliance, non-profit organizations devoted to establishing a world future generations will want to inherit & the author of the NY Times bestseller, Confessions Of An Economic Hitman.

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