Do You Know a Good Repairman? My Democracy is Broken.
This week, The Hill contributor Allan J. Lichtman writes about “a shattering new study (that finds) ordinary Americans have virtually no impact…on the making of national policy in our country.”
Shattering? That’s really not the word I would use. Is it shattering that the sun rises? Surprising that earth spins? No. We’ve come to expect it. But interesting, I’ll give you that.
The study was conducted by pronounced university professors Martin Gilens of Princeton and Benjamin Page of Northwestern. It is due out in full this fall.
Mr. Lichtman, a professor himself at the American University in Washington, likely was privy to a sneak peak. He continues that “the influence of ordinary Americans registers at a “non-significant, near-zero level”…(while the) rich individuals and business-dominated interest groups dominate the policymaking process.”
Again, I don’t think this qualifies as “news” for the majority of Americans. Most of us already possess a healthy level of pessimism where political influence is concerned. But don’t let my sans-coffee, cranky musings diminish the importance of what Mr. Lichtman promotes.
Indeed, this “should be a loud wake-up call to the vast majority of Americans…bypassed by their government.” Yes, “the relationship between the people and our government” must be changed.
Mr. Lichtman describes an apathetic public, one where more and more Americans are opting not to vote, not to participate. Somewhere, our country fell off the civic bandwagon.
So, what does it take to spark a revolution?
I’ll point you back to a 1972 political theory called the Downs Model. It was the basis for much of my college thesis and is something I refer to whenever I need to sound smart. It is my fix-all for virtually any governmental or social ill and is the only political theory I can identify by name.
The genesis of the model is quite simple: crisis breeds opportunity. Change follows catastrophe.
With these crises come “windows of opportunity.” Every sinking ship needs a plug, so the first shipmate to show up with a giant piece of cork wins. People aren’t so picky during times of emergency.
But the window won’t stay open forever. No patch kit? Well, there goes humanity. Opportunities are just as easily missed due to the fact that no one stepped up with a solution. Or, on the contrary, someone stepped up with a bad one.
Mr. Lichtman suggests non-elites pool their moderate resources into competing political action committees (PACs)…meet thy enemy head on in the war of political fundraising.
I’ve got to admit, PACs and Super PACs straight up give me the willies. Even for a cause I believe in, it just feels wrong. Could it be a transparent Super PAC that doesn’t eat meat and that hugs bunnies?
Frankly, I don’t have an alternative for the masses. I’ll think on it, if you will. But remember, time’s a wastin’. Do as Mr. Lichtman suggests, and act now! This is a limited time offer – it won’t last forever!
Follow me on Twitter at Patience Burke@TameTheGorilla.