Why Is the United States “A Democracy In Name Only”?


Read this:  Sometimes we need a different discussion to find a way into the minds of people stuck in the abyss of political party dogmas.  Maybe then a new perspective is possible, at least for a few.  I stumbled on the article linked below on a site called AlterNet, by Adam Johnson, where he looks at some of the limiting factors in a democracy.  He starts by attacking a common assumption that “in a democracy people get the leaders they deserve.”.  To this he rebuts “we get the Democracy our elites give us”. Johnson then says “It would be true, of course, if ‘Democracy’ existed in a friction less vacuum. But it doesn’t.”

Johnson goes on to analyze many of these points of friction, that restrict the ability of democracy to function.  A couple of them follow here:

  • “Any democracy coupled with unfettered capitalism will not, by definition, be a healthy one”. He sites a study concluding that “the preferences of economic elites have far more independent impact upon policy change than the preferences of the average citizens do.”
  • There is the need of any democracy to have an independent press and (there are) concerns where this is jeopardized by increasing presence of propaganda.  Here in the US, the majority of our national media is owned by 4-5 corporations – not a sign of an independent media.  He sites “the father of public relations, Edward Bernays, in his seminal 1928 book (saying), ‘The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country’.”

This is a very good article to get you thinking and wondering how we can make our democracy more than just a word we blindly use to describe the US form of government.  As Bernie Sanders is saying, what we need is a political revolution in America and we must all participate.



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