Do not be angry with me for speaking the truth; no man will survive who genuinely opposes you or any other crowd and prevents the occurrence of many unjust and illegal happenings…. A man who really fights for justice must lead a private, not a public life, if he is to survive for even a short time. (Plato’s Apology 31e-32a)
Democracy – which can be defined as that system of government whereby all eligible citizens cast a ballot and vote directly for their leadership – has been around since at least Plato’s Athens, around 300-400 BC. The Great Greek’s discussions on politics, found mostly in Timaeus (start reading at section V), Republic and Apology , paint a sorry picture for the possibilities of any purely democratic system. In fact, Plato finds democratic government to be the worst of all possible governing types, with the exception of tyranny (rule by a dictator). For great thinkers like Plato (Socrates, Avicenna, whoever), then Aristotle, down to our very own John Locke, it has been routinely held that rule by the common people [demos=people + kratos=rule] is equivalent to Mob Rule, even worse than rule by timocracy (the Good Ol’ Boy syndrome), aristocracy (a king or queen and their line), and even rule by money (oligarchy).
Just briefly I want to explain why Plato and many of his time felt the way they did about democracy as this can help in understanding why we need a new political party to challenge the two-headed beast we now have. Plato’s reservations with accepting democracy had nothing to do with its implementational viability or things like people not voting and so on. Rather, Plato had a view of common human nature that was not so flattering and this was the basis for the condemnation. The sheep, let me call them for Plato, simply cannot as a rule be trusted to make the important decisions necessary to run a nation, state, or even city. The reasoning he supplies, and which I think today remains legitimate, is essentially two-fold: first and most importantly, the common sheep are neither properly raised nor adequately educated; secondly, the sheep are very susceptible and gullible, easily swayed by bad logic, psychological manipulations, blind emotion, and we should add today, advertisements and the media. Plato is often taken to task for his views on censorship (many people simply can be made crazy by presentations…), but this derives from the same theoretical base. The common people, or as I say sheep, simply cannot be trusted to be reasonable. Uneducated as they are they cannot keep their emotions under control, or be trusted to make the right choices. Our history of copycat crimes based on cinema and television broadcasts, and the alleged efficacy of marketing strategies can alone attest to the ease with which the sheep can be manipulated. People can supply reasons for their choices but hardly ever rational ones.
But there seems to be a light at the end of Plato’s democratic tunnel-vision, and that is that IF – and I cannot stress this word enough because it still has not come to pass – IF the people were raised rightly, and educated correctly, THEN a democracy could stand a chance. In America today it is often thought that we have a democracy but we do not. Our founding fathers were well aware of classic ideas of government and this, coupled with their underlying dissatisfaction with the then-current aristocratic government (which had by then devolved into timocracy and oligarchy), was all they needed to be sure and qualify the new American democratic process. The framers of the Constitution wanted to combine the voice of “the people” (those not in the aristocracy) yet keep the classical idea of aristos, or the best. What resulted was a hybrid we still have today that is known as a “representative democracy” and makes it so that the people vote on few issues directly and for the most part use their voting to elect their representatives, seemingly still, chosen from the “best.”
The problem is the meaning of “best.” Clearly the great thinkers did not define “best” as the one who could make the most money, speak the most appealing things to the masses (see especially Sophist), or look the best on the screen. “Best” for the ancient Greeks meant superior in reasoning ability, and possessed of the Good in every aspect of life. The best man is therefore the most righteous man, the fairest man, the honest man. In Plato’s time, we must remember, democracy was the rule in Athens even though he lobbied against its merits. It was after all democracy, the voice of the people, that also condemned his beloved Socrates. The early proponents of democracy knew its limitations, and that it would be difficult for it to succeed in any polis much bigger than Athens, which in 300 BC was already experiencing some of those problems. So, for a democracy to work, in theory, the people need to be educated, and the population must be small enough so that everyone is adequately “spoken for,” either by direct vote or through a representative.
We still have not yet any of this basis for democracy’s success. The people, while most go to school, are scarcely educated, and most come from single or divided-parent households where their early upbringing leaves much to be desired. We do, in a sense, still need this Republic, we need still representatives for those who cannot, or are unable to represent themselves. This then electing of congressmen becomes a key issue, the selecting of each one as important for that electorate as is the President for the nation. But electing Senators and Representatives today we find ourselves in a similar circus. While everyone fitting the qualifications may toss their hats in the ring, it is a known fact that only those with enough money (oligarchy) and connections in business and the media (timocracy, cronyism. lobbies) encounter any kind of success. Because the area of coverage each representative is meant to speak for is so large (over 700,ooo to 1 in Texas…), the constituents so many, only those with big enough bank accounts and quick dial lists ever really get a chance to compete. The smaller-budgeted prospective candidates are never even seen.
With this post then I introduce a step in the direction of getting better people for the jobs of politician seen. The people of America need an alternative voice with power and a defensible platform to challenge the existing dynamic (via dunamis, also Greek, for always moving…) duo we call contemporary politics, the maddening red and blue two-sided slug of a coin. That is, I introduce with this essay what we will for working purposes (we can change the name later if deemed beneficial) call the Common Sense Party. IF there are to still be these political parties, we surely need another one, a real one with a chance to win. Perhaps a union of the existing alternative parties deserves some discussion.
This new political foundation will be followed-up on in our forum, in the members’ section, and anyone who finds it interesting is encouraged to share the idea and participate in refining the platform, which I will begin presently. We can also give it a working title, the Neo-Declaration of Independence.
1. No representative at any level of government, be it mayor of a town or President of the nation, may make more at his position that the median income of his constituency.
2. No government benefits shall be paid for retired politicians at any level.
3. We demand regulation on any goods and services for which the people have no choice or no real choice. Examples are:
a. Mandatory insurance of any kind
b. Electricity, gas, and other fuels and energies
c. Local telephone, internet, cable
d. Health care and prescription costs; no capitalizing of any kind on illness
e. and more
4. We must stop being the police of the world. We simply cannot afford it anymore.
5. We must reduce the military expenditures by half in peace time. Too much business is involved.
6. We must push for peace at all costs and use war only as a last resort. This includes cold wars, covert wars, propaganda wars.
7. Any US military intervention without a declaration of war shall be ended immediately.
8. 30 years of service shall now be required to receive any government pension.
9. Basic health care must be immediately given to every US citizen as a benefit of citizenship, paid for by a combination of taxation and personal annual contribution based on income.
10. We must discuss some sort of basic intellectual proficiency for any voter. If you can’t add 5 plus 3 and get the right answer then you shouldn’t be voting. But his is just a wish…
11. We must support national decriminalization of marijuana and all cannabis products. The current government position of ruining lives and putting people in jail for no crime is absurd and in fact more detrimental to society than the behavior it cannot possibly prevent. The current stance is symbolic of governmental, scientific, and political incompetency and continued telling of outright lies. No crime should be a crime in America if there is no conceivable tort, that is, harm accrued by anyone else. Which leads to:
12. We must push for a re-affirming the person’s right to his or her own self, that each individual should be free from molestation from without, and free to even choose to die if the circumstances so warrant.
13. We are against abortion but FOR a person’s right to have one. Given #12 above, it is your right to do with your own body what you will. But for me, it’s just become too easy and should be reserved for extreme cases. There is also that debate about that body inside of the pregnant woman. It is with sad face I would have to keep those clinics open. But such is the nature of freedom to choose. Bottom line is government cannot pay for it in any way.
14. All contributions to politicians shall be recorded and must be INDIVIDUAL only. No corporate contributions, and there must be a strict limit imposed for each social security number.
15. The media must be forced to donate time to all candidates of every (even minor) party equally.
16. Commercials and advertisements for politicians must be screened for accuracy before they are presented to the public.
17. We need to audit the Federal Reserve (or close it), trim the administrative section of the budget, and review all government contracts (n.b. under FINANCIALS).
18. There will no longer be any such thing as a “non-profit organization”; so long as any organization, committee, fellowship, etc. has people on the payroll, that organization shall be taxed as earning a profit.
19. Corporations shall be held to scale-based taxation off the gross receipts, not the bottom line. Too much is dumped to avoid such taxes. Members of the corporations shall be held accountable for corporate liabilities.
20. We shall eliminate the Port Authority, the Federal Reserve Bank, and any more bailing out of private enterprises.
21. We shall erect a National Bank Of The People to challenge the private options. This will be non-profit, after expenditures from the excess income from loans and so on going to establish new branches.
22. We will discuss closing all stock markets, or regulating them and taxing them, like the high stakes casinos they are.
23. We’ll discuss an exchange of cleaner tobacco in exchange for lower tax rates.
24. Taxation needs a complete overhaul. As is the little people pay too much while the big bucks boys do not pay enough. Too much of the dollar sent to the government – at all levels – goes to salaries for employees and to waste.
25. Our stimulus for growth? America needs to make things again, things cheap enough and of good enough quality that the whole world will want to buy them again. Real working production jobs. Co-ops, where the people who work at the factory reap the profits of that factory equally, is the best idea we have heard yet.
Well, there you have it, 25 points to send you sheep ascurry. Help us fix it, or get out of the way.
Who’s responsible for change?