Part 5 Section I in the Series
In general, a government perceives its purpose as guiding and facilitating the activities of the people within its purview in a manner that provides the greatest benefit to society as perceived by its citizens with rights of influence.
When asked, what do individual citizens perceive as the greatest benefit their governing system should provide them? The response often resembles, “Provide me with a secure and enabling environment where I can experience my own definition of an interesting and fulfilling life.” At a passing glance, that request seems simple enough to grant but becomes problematic to enact in reality when you consider what “my own definition” could mean to each citizen and the chaos that would likely cause as individuals pursued their own interests without knowledge or regard for how their actions may affect others. To promote a peaceful society, parameters are placed around “my own definition” in the form of laws.
Throughout history, citizen rights of influence have been doled out unequally. Under a dictatorship, most citizens have no rights of influence at all. In more democratically organized governing systems, most citizens have some rights of influence but usually vary in degree – such as in a representative democracy. The United States has a representative democracy whereby at the National level of governance, the citizens elect their representatives in Congress and a President that presides over the Executive Branch. The State level is similarly structured with an elected Governor in lieu of a President. At the National level, Congress has the power to draft and pass National legislation; some States, such as California, practice a form of direct democracy for the passage of State legislation. In direct democracy or pure democracy, the citizens are granted considerable rights of influence as they vote directly on and determine the passage of each issue. Besides the State of California, Ancient Athens-Greece and Switzerland are other examples of direct democracy type governance systems.
With the passage of time and the increase of the United States’ population, its ratio of elected representatives at the national level has increase from the original maximum of 1 to 30,000 to an average of one representative per 700,000 citizens. To expect one individual to effectively represent the interests of 700,000 citizens is completely unrealistic. By enabling wealthy corporations the ability to lobby members of Congress and contribute substantial funds to their individual election campaigns, representation of the general citizenry’s interests at the national level has been further eroded. To compound this condition of inadequate representation, the powers of the Presidential office have been increased to the point that at the stroke of a pen on an Executive Order or a Veto on legislation, the check to Executive Branch power that Congress is charged with performing has been rendered to an almost advisory only capacity. This state of affairs has culminated in a governing system that resembles a democracy in name and pretense only; the United States governance system, should it continue to metamorphose in this manner, will function far more like a dictatorship than a democracy.
“Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” – British politician, Lord Acton
The more power is concentrated in the hands of the few, the more corrupt and non-representative of the citizenry for which it was meant to serve, does the government become. A governance system that places the majority of power with the bulk of its citizens is necessary for a Nation’s internal and external actions to most accurately reflect the wishes of its citizenry.
The next section will cover a structure that enables this type of governance system.