A large percentage of Americans believe we are headed in the wrong direction – that wealth is being taken from the middle class and redistributed to corporations and the rich, that our health care system is broken, that our education system is failing our children, that our national infrastructure is in dire condition, and that our government is failing us. Yet, what do we do about it? We gripe. We post our complaints on social media. We sign petitions. Occasionally, some of us write letters to the press (and even less frequently they get published). Some of us call or write letters to our legislators who (disingenuously) reply with gratitude for our concerns. And occasionally, some of us vote in our elections. (I say that some us occasionally vote in elections because a slim majority of Americans vote only in presidential elections and the vast majority don’t vote in mid term, off year, primary or special elections.)
So why don’t our actions do us any good? The bottom line is they don’t change the rules of the game which are currently rigged to benefit the corporations and the rich. Only the legislators (rule makers) can change the rules. In order to change the rules, we must either change the behavior of the legislators or replace them. History has shown us that constituents’ actions don’t influence the behavior of our legislators so we are left with the alternative that we must replace them.
Replacing the legislators can only be accomplished legally at the ballot box. But recent history has shown that that is not working – or that it’s only working for the corporations and the rich. Even though we have regular elections every two years, our voting actions seldom replace any legislators as they remain in office year after year after year. So there is something in the way Americans vote that is failing to work for the majority of us. In order to make the desired changes in our system, we need to examine what is wrong with the way we select our legislators and what we can do to fix it.
Next: why our elections aren’t working for the majority and how we can make it work.