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Me, The People

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 4/03/2016 Brian Ross

E pluribus unum. Out of many, one. That motto on our currency used to mean something before the advent of Me, the People. In 21st century America, Lady Liberty is a narcissist.
The balance between rugged individualism and collectivism, and race and gender, are the two major power struggles in American culture. They shape our thinking and drive our politics and society more than most other topics, and they're never really consistent.
Conservatives shout to the rafters about "big government" and the "nanny state" when it comes to guns or demon "Obamacare." Get Big Brother government off our backs! BUT... if it comes to a woman's right to choose what she does with her body, or breaking down the power of workers to organize into a union, though, Republicans are all for big government.
Democrats talk a good game about being there for the rest of America, but when Wall Street imploded in 2008, little was done to hold some of the Street's most reckless financiers accountable, and they've traded off increases in the minimum wage for decades for more immediate political gains, leaving the middle class with a shrinking paycheck.

Which explains why 39% of the voting public has abandoned the political parties, a figure that has gone up 9% since 2004, according to the Pew Research Center. There are now more non-aligned registered voters than members of either political party.
Who can blame them? There is more going on in our world that divides us than unites us. Our national malaise and discontent is stoked by:

  • Our news media, that sells politics as entertainment to attract viewers confronted with thousands of choices for their attention;
  • Our wealthiest Americans terraforming the political landscape via think tanks and grass roots organizations like Americans for Prosperity;
  • Our educational institutions and public service groups failing to teach civics to a generation or two of Americans over the last thirty years;
  • Our broken capitalist system that has turned Wall Street into the Las Vegas Strip, and decimated the value of the home, the bedrock equity of the middle class;
  • Our entertainment, filled with dystopian futures, ultra violent games, and reality shows glorifying the darkest, sleaziest corners of the American character;
  • The electronic media providing a new level of anonymity that lets our inner trolls and flamers emerge that breaks down civil debate and discourse further.
  • Selfish, dogmatic, narcissist extremists swathed in the mantle of Christianity doing, and threatening to do, the most un-Christian of things in the name of imposing their cretinous credos on the rest of America.

All combined, they're the perfect storm for participatory democracy and the damage to democracy and our political process is clear.
Of the 219M people of voting age, only 146.3M are registered voters in America, and approximately 52M people can't vote in party primaries. That means that 30% of America's adult age voters are fully self-disenfranchised and, when you include independents, more than half, 57%, do not participate in the weeding out process of the primaries.
We started hearing about "record" turnout in the 2016 Republican primaries after Super Tuesday. It's bunk. The only real record turnouts were during the 1800s, largely surrounding the time that led up to and followed the Civil War, and excluded huge swaths of voting age citizens, through slavery, Jim Crow laws, and denial of voting rights for women.
Turnout, overall, in the 2016 primary season has been pathetic:
StatePopulationEligible to Vote2016 Primary TurnoutPercentage
Alabama4.8M3.76M1.25M33%

Alaska

(R Only)

737K554K219K3%
Arkansas2.97M2.28M637K21%
Colorado*5.4M4.26M124K2%
Georgia10.1M7.8M2.05M20%
Iowa3.1M2.4M358K11%
Massachusetts6.75M5.4M1.84M27%
Minnesota5.5M4.2M337K7.9%
Nevada2.8M2.25M87K3.8%
New Hampshire1.3M1.07M543K50%
Oklahoma3.9M2.97M795K21%
South Carolina4.8M3.8M1.1M30%
Tennessee6.6M5.13M1.23M19%
Texas30M20.5M4.3M14%
Vermont627K507K196K31%
Virginia8.3M6.6M1.81M22%


Noting the exception of New Hampshire, where 50% turned out, the two candidates for the next President of the United States will be narrowed down by a rough average 21% of those eligible to vote, just 2 in 10 voters. Colorado Republicans were completely disenfranchised unless they're party regulars. Their voters won't even get to caucus, because their party establishment didn't like the rules changes and didn't have one.
America is fractured by the chasm between whites and everyone else. It is no wonder that the Neocons and the Libertarian Far Right of the GOP are fronting Hispanic candidates. Their party badly needs someone to augment their shrinking demographics of old white men. Pew shows us how deeply the rift runs:
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This is the year of the anti-establishment candidate, of Sanders and Trump. A Tale of Two Candidates: Trump thrives by feeding political meat to the toxic zealots that the Far Right has culled and groomed over the years. Sanders' Maple Revolution has collapsed because his biggest constituency, millennials, are notoriously hard to turn out.
The way forward is blocked because compromise has become a dirty word in GOP circles. Uncle Sam has become bipolar instead of bipartisan.
The only thing that can break gridlock is a return by the millions of moderate Republicans who abandoned ship when the social conservatives moved in and told them they weren't RED enough to stay. In a two party system, which is unlikely to stop being a two party system, we need two healthy parties.
We need:

  • MASSIVE civic engagement by the millions of Americans who have dropped out of the system;
  • Americans to exercise their one right: VOTE.
  • Moderate "fiscally conservative" Republicans, driven out by the social extremists, to re-register and demand their more socially moderate, fiscally conservative party BACK;
  • To restore honor to public service;
  • To set the bar higher for our politicians. Our elected officials must return to decorum and conducting the people's business civilly. No government shutdowns with Ted Cruz reading "Green Eggs and Ham" at $1M per minute; No refusal to even talk to the White House about the people's business;
  • Our news media to go back into the business of news as news, and not infotainment or propaganda. Without a healthy fourth estate, there is not a healthy democracy;
  • To end the Tsunami of special interest money from Citizens United crashing our political process;
  • To change our voting system. If we can move trillions of dollars securely via the Internet, we should be able to make a secure means of voting conveniently. To leverage our cell phones, computer watches, laptops, ATMS, etc. This is the 21st century, and the only reason we use our byzantine voting system is to disenfranchise millions of people;
  • To deal with the 400lb gorilla in the room, and end 239 years of racial strife;
  • To respect the rights of all people of all genders, and allow all of us to live and love as we see fit.

Our biggest challenge in rebooting America 21 is that it isn't a government program, or following a crazy Cruz or a crafty Clinton. It isn't a television special with Sylvester Stallone and Jon Stewart standing hand-in-hand singing "We are the World." We've let that media dominate our view of the world for almost a century. Maybe it's time to use the social media to spread the word, friend-to-friend:
It's WE the PEOPLE;
America's Back. And I'm On Board.

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