A People’s Government

One of the challenges of Western democracies is in expressing the will of the people. It shouldn’t be because after all that is what democracy is meant to be about, but it is – in no small measure because what we have isn’t the direct democracy that was practiced by male Athenians back in the day, but an indirect democracy.

The theory goes that we elect people to represent us in the national legislature, and those representatives do exactly that, they represent our wants and not wants. It’s a very simply theory but in reality, things don’t quite work that way.

Americans know that one of the things that needs to be improved in their democracy is political campaign contributions. Specifically, that the amounts of political contributions are not good. In 2016 alone, an astonishing US$6.8 billion was spent in the US federal elections – which excludes two-thirds of the Senate seats, as well as all the other state elections that take place.i

An astonishing 88 percent of Americans in 2018 wanted “limits on the amount of money individuals and groups can spend on campaigns.”ii To give you a sense of what 88 percent of a population feels like, 91 percent of Americans in 2018 thought the earth was flat.iii In 2017, 87 percent thought that Elvis was dead.iv The same percentage in 2013 thought that Obama was not the anti-Christ.v

What I am trying to say is that 88 percent wanting limits may be as high as it gets. Anything with more support feels like something out of North Korea. I feel I need to say it once again - more Americans wanted limits on political campaign contributions than thought Elvis was dead.

There’s a reason that we are not seeing limits though. 83 percent of those contesting for Senate seats in 2016 happened to be those whose campaigns spent the most for election. That figure was even higher for the House, at 89 percent.vi Put in other words, Congress is dominated by people who have an outstanding ability to raise campaign funds.

Why then would they want to limit their competitive advantage?

saqib qureshi