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Threats to Democracy

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There are a variety of threats to democracy, or more specifically, political mechanisms whereby power can be usurped, with branches of government acting counter to the general will of the population. Although democracy in the United States has been stable, this has not been the case in other parts of the world. Perhaps the grandest recent example is Nazi Germany, which careened off in a disastrous direction despite the fact that most Germans of the time were quite "normal" and had plenty-enough common sense, and held beliefs, views and a general outlook on life that closely resembles that which we'd call "normal" today.

List of things considered threats to democracyEdit

High technology surveillanceEdit

Modern technology is enabling the deployment of cheap and pervasive surveillance technologies; dropping prices make them affordable to even local police forces. Examples include face-recognition software in airports, automated toll-road booth mechanisms, infrared cameras, and terrahertz "clothes piercing" cameras, not to mention telephone wire-tapping and web-surfing monitoring systems. Ostensibly deployed by police and security forces to help catch criminals, surveillance devices cast a much broader net. Examples include J. Edgar Hoover, Director of the FBI, who used his unique access to sensitive information to blackmail many prominent politicians of the day. Minor examples include a variety of corrupt police chiefs and deputies who have been able to misuse thier power against innocent citizens. Perhaps the grandest deployment of surveillance technologies was by the Soviet Union, which ran a sophisticated domestic spying operation to suppress political speech (dissident speech) by its citizens.

PropagandaEdit

Curiously, the word "propaganda" is rarely used in modern political discourse, and yet, propaganda is more pervasive, widely used and effective than ever before. Perhaps this is because "propaganda" is a "dirty word", everyone's heard the word, yet few understand its true meaning. While propaganda in one form or another dates from the establishment of the Republic, the power of propaganda has been increased by the application of sophisticated techniques taken from commerce and product marketing, including the use of focus groups, data mining, and other technologies. Traditionally, propaganda was generated by "propaganda machines", organizations under the direct control of a political party. In the modern incarnation, control is much more diffuse, with few lines of direct accountability, and has more of the flavour of independent action by independent groups. The common feature is a willful distortion of the facts and out-right lying to promote a perticular point of view. More generally, cable news networks remain a dominant source of political information, with round-the-clock coverage of politics, "talking heads", including former presidential staffers from the Reagan and Clinton administrations, with strong political biases, as well as spokesmen from "non-partisan" think tanks whose biases are not revealed. In fact, listening to obviously biased information from both sides and distilling truth for yourself is usually better than listening to one supposedly unbiased source.

CensorshipEdit

The democratic process relies heavily on freedom of expression and freedom of the press. In order for a democracy to function, the voters must be well-informed and must know the truth about the issues they are voting upon, as well as the platforms and the trustworthiness of candidates. A government that controls the media can get away with murder (both literally and figuratively) because with dissenting views suppressed, typically in favor of the ruling party's own propaganda, the majority of voters will never know if the government is doing something they disagree with. Without access to dissent, voters may re-elect the most oppressive of incumbents. While censorship is typically more common under existing dictatorships (notably the People's Republic of China) to maintain a single-party system, if allowed to occur in a democratic, multi-party system, it can be a powerful instrument in turning it into a single-party dictatorship.

The Power of IncumbencyEdit

Congressmen/women have effectively become untouchable during elections through a variety of maneuvers designed to strengthen incumbency. They have drawn their districts in such a way that they will be "safe" during general elections. During primaries, they build huge financial warchests from extreme special interest groups - and share funds with each other - so that they may drown out any attempts to unseat them in primaries. These formidable obstacles have damaged the true intention of democracy, and have in fact subverted it. Term limits are used to combat the power of incumbency in some offices, and many people believe that they should be extended to others. GrandpaNate swears: There is only one way to stop the degeneration of America.

Vati Vati

Vati = Vote Against The Incumbents. [That's v-a-t-i, with a long A and a long I.] The present state of America makes me sick. It actually makes me nauseous to ponder how far this once magnificent country has slipped into mediocrity. When I was a young man, fifty years ago, you could mention just about anything: And America was best at that. Back then, America enjoyed the best health care, the best schools, and the best working conditions on Earth, while we worked fewer hours, made more money, and enjoyed a life style never before seen upon this planet. Our coal mines were producing more coal, our steel-mills smelting more iron, and our assembly-lines led the World in the manufacture of beautiful automobiles, refrigerators, wash-machines, dryers, and the hoard of smaller appliances and gadgets (which eliminated most of the drudgery of our daily chores) and introduced mankind to the life-of-ease, we all now enjoy. Now, American High School Graduates rank only average (whether tested in Mathematics, World History, Language, Science or any other critical field of expertise) and compared with the student's test scores, from the other industrialized nations. Our so-called health care system stinks, it is without question, the most dysfunctional conglomeration of nonsensical laws bureaucrats have ever assembled. It assures illegal aliens and greedy politicians unlimited free health care, while it renders millions of hard working honest citizens incapable of obtaining any kind of health insurance. The new Social Security Drug Plan deducts a premium for drug insurance, which you can bet will double every year (for at least the next two years) from the social security checks, of subscribers. A great many drugs are not covered by this new plan, and it only pays a maximum of about 70% on any drug, a lot less on most. When the total drug bill (what the retiree and the government pays) reaches $2250.00, Grandma gets cut off, has to pay it all herself, until her total drug bill reaches $3500.00. Obviously if Grandma can not afford her drugs, her bill will never get to $3500.00, so she will go without her drugs for the rest of the year. Of course the monthly premium will still be deducted from her Social Security Check. The drug companies formulated this drug bill, got it enacted, and only the drug companies are going to benefit from it. (Our government gives them the premiums.) In short, this Shaft Our Grandparents Bill is nothing but a multi-million dollar windfall for the drug companies. The above bill is sure not the worst medical bill our elected officials have ever enacted. It just happens to be the last that made me angry. Hundreds of anti consumer bills and amendments are on the books, which benefit only the medical and/or the drug industries. Foreign competition to American Drug Companies is nonexistent. If it was legitimatized, we could import drugs from reputable foreign drug facilities, for as little as 10% of the extortion we now forced to pay our American Drug Companies. Sad to say, but the Medical Cartels and Drug Companies, with their unchallenged power, are not the worst villains when it comes to manipulating our US Government [or our state governments] into giving them a license to gouge us. The international oil and gas conglomerates, the interstate utility companies, railroad companies, automobile and airplane manufacturers, the cable companies, international shipping cartels and a score of other business concerns all wield as much or more power over our Congress, Senate and President, than the drug companies do. Big Business is our real enemy. Big Business controls our government, and Big Business is the real reason America is losing ground on all fronts, the reason America is steadily slipping into mediocrity. The companies mentioned above, along with a score of Countries and a hoard of other mighty financial cartels, funnel billions of dollars, pac-money, annually into Washington, to influence the Republican and Democratic Party Leaders (Lords) to legislate on their behalf. The leaders of the Democratic and Republican Parties, the Party Lords, in the Congress and Senate, now have more control over their subservient Congressman and Senators, than any Marine General ever had over his troops. The political parties control the pac-money. And the pac-money is what decides who will get elected, or heaven forbid, smeared. These political Lords can't just walk down on the floor and tell a congressman or senator that they are fired. But they can have anyone that fails to kowtow to the powers that be, ostracized, rendered powerless, and they can definitely keep anyone from being re-elected. It is very important that we all understand that these Party Lords have strict control over our congressmen and senators. And folks that's not Democracy, that's Bureaucracy. And if we are going to declare war against our greedy bureaucracy, prudence behooves us to learn all we can about our enemy. Now, I just pulled what I have written here off the top of my head. So if you find a mistake, don't get excited, it is not that important, the overall theme of this opinion is correct. And furthermore it is also correct that with a minimum of research, anyone can ascertain for themselves that this greatest of all nations, is rapidly slipping into mediocrity. And even the United States of America, the greatest nation that ever existed, can fall from within, if we continue to allow misguided politicians the right, to barter away piece after piece of good government, to anyone who is able and willing to pay for preferential treatment. I have been telling people for years; when in doubt always Vati. But only in this last year has the urge to really push this concept become obligatory. Actually, Voting Against The Incumbents, is a very viable method of straightening out what is wrong with America. Many congressmen and senators win their seats by very small margins, less than 5%. So, if just 5% of the electorate would vati, we would probably get between 20 and 25% of the Congress and Senators. And you can bet we would get their attention. If as many people vatied, as voted for Ross Perot (he got 18.9% of the popular vote) we would unseat half of both houses. Folks this is a plan that definitely has possibilities. Politician's egos are all wrapped up in their positions. Actually the only thing in the World politicians love more than pac-money, is their influential positions, their jobs. And on the very day our legislators learn that their electorate is actually going to vote them out of office, they are going to be magically stricken with a burning desire to legislate on behave of their constituency. The only question left is, where are you going to place your loyalty, to the political party that you have been blindly supporting - or to America? You can't serve two masters, and be loyal to both. We have to take the power away from the political Lords, to the extent that it allows our elected representatives to vote the way we tell them to vote. Or in thirty years you are not going to be able to tell the difference between Washington and the corrupt Government of Mexico, or for that matter, tell the difference between America and Mexico. Grandpa Nate @ Rawlins, Wyoming. See more @: http://voteagainsttheincumbents.blogspot.com/

WarEdit

Aside from the danger presented by the enemy in a war, the additional powers and latitude afforded to military leaders during wartime combined with an inflated sense of nationalism make war an ideal time for the executive branch to usurp power. War makes it easier for a government to get away with things like surveillance, propaganda and censorship, and the inflated nationalism strengthens incumbency, sometimes to the point of suspending term limits. For this reason, many dictatorships have taken advantage of or manufactured wars in order to gain and maintain power. This is illustrated by the perpetual and possibly fictitious state of war depicted in George Orwell's 1984.

                          Vati Party

VATI is the first letter in "Vote Against The Incumbents,” and that is what it means. Vati means you always vote against the person holding the office, the incumbent, regardless of political affiliation.

The majority of our Congressmen and Senators have absolutely no fear of losing their offices. They know that party loyalty [be it Republican or Democrat] of their constituency will assure their perpetual reelecting. In the whole Senate you are likely to have only five or six seats [in the Congress less than 30 seats] that are not securely locked-up by one, or the other, political parties.

And actually, nothing is gained when we do manage to send an occasional new representative to Washington. In short: They are simply gobbled up by the system. They are introduced to pac-money, and the powerful party leaders [Party Lords] and end up cuddling up to Big Business, and voting the party line, for legislation that enhances the Conglomerate's bottom line, to the determent of their constituency, to the determent of America.

Now, a large percentage of Congressmen and Senators win their seats by very small margins, less than 5%, so if just 10% of the voters Vati, we would likely unseat nearly 20% of our Representatives. If we could generate as much support as Ross Perot did, [according to the last election] we would kick out close to 90% of the House and Senate.

But more important than just getting rid of some self-serving politicians, unseating just 10% of the House and Senate would definitely get their attention. And then we could demand drastic change. We could demand a clean break between our Legislators and Big Business. We could outlaw all soft-money, and make any contact between our Legislators and Big Business [except publicized discussion in an open forum] illegal. We can demand term limits. I am for an eight-year term limit, for all Government Offices. Let Senators serve one six year term or change the length their terms to four years. We can demand secure borders, and that everything entering our ports be inspected. We could demand a rigidly enforced alien worker program, which caters to America’s needs. And demand a viable plan which honorably ends the war in Iraq.

We can let Washington know, anyone who votes against anything the majority of America clearly wants, had better start looking for a new job.

Vatiing is a very viable method of voting to save America, to cure what is wrong with America, a viable way of stopping America’s rapid descent into mediocrity.

The interest in “vote against the incumbents” is growing exponentially. Now we need to get organized, form a political party. Much like any other political party, except we won’t run candidates for office. Our challenge will be to make the other Parties Candidates legislate for American, and America’s People.

If you have any ideas, comments, want to help get organized, or whatever, please leave a message at: http://voteagainsttheincumbents.blogspot.com/

Corporate InfluenceEdit

Democracy is designed to serve the interest of the people, but in indirect democratic systems, there is the potential for elected officials to serve the interests of large corporations, to the detriment of those of their constituents. Campaigning can be extremely expensive, and many politicians accept large campaign contributions from deep-pocketed corporations with the understanding that if elected, the candidate will use his authority to further his sponsor's agenda. This can result in the formation of monopolies and restriction of consumers' rights. These detrimental economic effects will not directly lead to the destruction of a democracy, but by causing elected officials to work against their constituents, it undermines the purpose of democracy. Campaign finance reform is the primary means of combatting this threat.

GrandpaNate says that finace reform, like term limits, are a good idea. But only one thing is going to save America:

                      Why we must Vati.
               [Vote Against The Incumbents]

I believe, most people in America, old enough to vote, know that corruption is flourishing in our Nation's Capital. Yet incredibly, this knowledge seems to generate very little real concern. It definitely should: Because corrupt politicians can even bring America, the richest, most powerful country that ever existed, to her knees.

Every day the Republican and Democratic Party Lords work at enacting bills, which cedes one international conglomerate after another some financial quid pro quo, for pac-money received. And nearly all concessions to Big Business prove to be detrimental to America's working people. Under the present system America will eventually have hungry masses without health care, millionaires, and no middle class. America, as we know her, is at this moment rapidly degenerating.

Our National debt has now exceeded $8,548,384,110,614 as of the first of October 2006. To put that number in perspective, we just passed 300,000,000 citizens, so for every legal man, woman and child in America, we now owe $28,494.61. Talk about selling children into slavery, America has to be the all-time number one, on this list. Just the interest on our debt is costing us 427 billion, 419 million, 205 thousand, 5 hundred, and 30 dollars a year, at 5 percent. Actually we don't borrow our money that cheaply. That is 1 billion, 171 million, 11 thousand, 5 hundred, 22 dollars each and every day, which our legislators are throwing away, because they failed to balance our budget. And every day, they are in session, our misguided politicians continue to give away, more and more money to Big Business. Their insatiable greed is like a growing cancer, sucking the life-blood out of America. Even if we could elect legislators, which prudently budgeted America's great wealth: It would take our children, at least, thirty years to pay off the incredible debts, we have recklessly accumulated.

You're still not concerned? Well let me relate one more fact: If America's lenders all get nervous, and cut off our credit, our government will disintegrate, beyond resurrection, in less than a year. Soup-lines, power outages, riots, fires, violence, hunger and sickness will be the future, of what was once the greatest Nation on Earth, the United States of America.

Obviously the Senators and Congressmen, who rule the House and Senate, are never going to voluntarily give up their seats, or the source of their power, their pac-money. And stated, short and quick: The only way, we are ever going to oust enough corrupt officials to demand drastic political reform, is to vati. Washington is in sad shape, and if we love this country we had best wake up, and do something to correct this untenable situation. If you have a better idea, I'll listen to you, if not, let's vati.

By: GrandpaNate @ Rawlins, Wyoming. Also see: http://voteagainsttheincumbents.blogspot.com

Majority ReligionEdit

Religious diversity and rationalism are conducive to a free, democratic society. Religion can confuse the priorities of voters and, in extreme cases, can be used to sway voters in order to usurp power. Many people have strong allegiance to their religion, more so than to their nation or to the democratic process. One need only convince such people that their religion's moral values dictate something, or that it is the will of their deity of choice, and they will blindly cast their votes for it without regard for principles like religious freedom. In the best cases, this promotes the tyranny of the majority (the dark side of democracy), and in the worst, can lead to democracies being replaced by theocracies or "ordained" dictatorships.

Electoral ApathyEdit

Democracies die when the people being represented lose interest in the mechanisms of involvement. I'm talking about low voter turnout numbers, lack of engagement of elected officials on issues, or not being involved in political parties. If people are not engaged in the processes and political activist activities that are available, democracy becomes meaningless if the people are not involved. Show people the way to bring about real change, and they will vote.

I wrote this poem back in [I think] "82". and it reverberates my sentiments today as vibrently as it did then.

VATI VATI

AS MIGHTY ROME FELL, AMERICA COULD DIE. WHETHER IT FAILS OR NOT, IS UP TO YOU AND I.

I worried and stewed, but by—and—by, came up with a plan, where you and I, can put America the a road, to a brand—new high. Just blame the politicians, get blood in your eye, and Vote Against The Incumbents. Vati, vati.

Now just voting won̓t do it, we̓ve got to vati. That̓s v, a, t, i, with a long A, and a long I. Vote against the incumbents, and you vati. Things will never get better, until we vati. Vote against the incumbents, Vati, vati.

This is no time, to just set and sigh. America will fail, without you and I. The time has come, we must do or die. We must all vote, and we must vati. Vote against the incumbents, Vati, vati.

Things won̓t just get better, by—and—by. Unless the apathetic voters, you and I, hit those poles with blood in our eye. And not only vote, but wisely vati, Vote against the incumbent. Vati, vati.

We dare not buy, some political lie, the America we love, is about to die. Politicians no longer, serve you and I, but all acquiesce, to the powers that buy. Vote against the incumbents. Vati, vati.

The newly elected may want to serve you and I, until that powerful pac—money catches their eye. Then party loyalty becomes, their big lie. As they vote with the pac, for their piece of the pie. Vote against the incumbents, Vati, vati.

Congressmen and Senators, are nigh as apt to die, as meet defeat at the poles, by you and I. They know we’ll vote for’em, they don’t have to try. America is declining as democracy goes awry. Vote against the incumbent. Vati, vati.

Waxing fat on the apathy, shown by you and I, Politicians became hogs, and Washington̓s a sty. But we can change all that, in the blink of an eye, if we just get off our apathy, and dutifully vati. Vote against the incumbents. Vati, vati.

If just one out of twenty, of us would vati, we̓d get nigh a third of that Washington sty. Now that might be to few, to help you and I, But we’d darn sure make the rest of them shy. Vote against the incumbents. Vati, vati.

And when; “Foul, foul,” the politicians cry. And charge that; “Great careers will sadly die.” Stand up and look them, straight in the eye, And vow; “Losing only makes the truly-great try.” Vote against the incumbents. Vati, vati.

From the County Coroner, to that Washington sty, if you don’t love the incumbent, always vati. Help turn America toward, a brand—new high. Teach your kids and your friends, they must vati. Vote against the incumbents. Vati, vati.

If the state of America, makes you want to cry, then help start a revolution, no one has to die. Our party loyalty sent elections go so far awry. And we can fix that error, just revolt and vati. Vote against the incumbents. Vati, vati.

Part your 2nd and 3rd fingers; that “v” means vati. Send this to a friend, who you think will comply. Let’s all band together, and give̓em a black eye. Vati, vati, and hearty bye-bye.

If you like this, copy it, and send it on.

Grandpa Nate @ Rawlins, Wyoming.

 http://voteagainsttheincumbents.blogspot.com/

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