1. You seem to be an intelligent woman so I wonder why it is you don’t tell people the truth…that elections are held to make people think they have a voice in government. Everybody that pays attention realize the political parties select the candidate(s) to run…solicit the cash to pay for them to run…and after the election (where usually only half the electorate turn out to vote) place the party loyal into government jobs. Once the candidate is in office, reelection solicitations begin. This process continues until the next election and of course, votes are sold to insure those donors will donate again so our little oligarchy system can pass for a democracy.

    Each state reelects representatives based on how much of the government pie he or she brings back to the state. This may be the biggest problem with our form of government since it ignores the good of all the people.

    I support term limits to eliminate the need for reelection funding and until term limits are in place…I vote against all incumbents. If you really want to display civic responsibility…sign the petition at http://www.termlimits.org.

    Our system has always favored the wealthy and perhaps rightly so, but if you want a true democracy…each persons vote has to be important and until you remove money from the equation, those votes will remain insignificant.

  2. You have clearly and concisely identified the problems. Thank you for articulating so well the issues and their effects.
    Solving the problems is going to be very hard when those in power do not recognize the problems as such and have a vested interest in keeping the status quo or even cementing the rules to favor their power.
    I have not supported term limits in the past because I believed that voters already had the ability to remove those they no longer supported by voting them out of office. Doug makes a compelling argument for term limits in an era of voter distrust and apathy, political corruption and privatization. Is there another solution? I hope to hear from those who have rebuttal to his stance.

  3. Sheila says that democracy is dying and Doug says that its already dead. The difference being whether we have to rely on evolution or revolution to solve the problem. As compared to accepting another Dark Ages for our grandchildren.

    Just for the sake of argument, as a starting point for discussion, let’s see where this assumption leads us. We can save democracy democratically. How.

    My opinion. It is necessary to artificially recreate the conditions of yesteryear when democracy flourished to make it work again. Those conditions? Eliminating the threat of oligarchy by the elimination of it’s most potent weapon, campaign financing. In other words reversing the current direction established by the Supreme Court, legislatively.

    The changes to the law would, compared to many, be quite simple in design. No big media campaigning. Public funded public debate at both the Primary and election stages as the only allowable means to recruit votes.

    Am I unrealistic in believing that evolution can be chosen over revolution or Dark Ages? Only history will tell us the answer. Based on 2016 in my opinion. That year will either be recorded as the rebirth of democracy or the year of no turning back from the Dark Ages except by revolution.

    Oligarchs will not cripple oligarchy. We, the people only have that power. It takes only some imagination to dream up can we.

    Will we is the unknown. The answer will be cast in stone by the makeup of the 115th Congress.

  4. As a White Male Baby-Boomer I grew up during the Golden Days or Good Old Days. How many brilliant minds were lost to prejudice and discrimination that was rampant during that era we will never know.

    Years ago during the Cold War I read a brief article from a Soviet Source which mocked our Two Party System. The essence of it was we had a One Party System and did not know it. The wealthy controlled the power levers including: The selection process of who could run for office, who would receive campaign financing, and favorable Media Coverage.

    Our system today is one of cascading failures over decades, which has resulted in a more purified Oligopoly. It is difficult to vote or be involved when critical parts in the system are sabotaged.

    I recently read an article in the NY Times (1/26/2015) by Zephyr Teachout commenting on the arrest and indictment of Sheldon Silver, the Speaker of the New York Assembly for 20 years on charges mail and wire fraud, extortion and receiving bribes. He said – “Corruption exists when institutions and officials charged with serving the public serve their own ends.” He further writes – “Think of campaign contributions as the gateway drug to bribes.” Also he states, “The structure of private campaign has essentially pre-corrupted our politicians. “New York lawmakers can’t carry water for two masters when in office.”

  5. Thank you, Sheila, (genuinely) for all of this really helpful information and for the answers to so many questions. And now, in order to protect this democracy from a counterclockwise swirl, the real challenge will be for us to come up with an answer to more than 50% of the population’s question: Why bother? This will be the most important marketing challenge that we face and needs to be addressed now. It’s going to take a really strong, orchestrated, and well funded marketing campaign to turn it around.

    The 50’s did have wide-eyed young folks who knew, “In this great country…..,” that the world was in the palms of their hands and that they could accomplish anything they dreamed of. Accomplished since then, we have what should be wide-eyed enthusiasm that instead has become, ” Why bother? Flush it.”

  6. Big money untrammeled is one problem. We need another Teddy Roosevelt to bust up the trusts. Another problem is religious ignorance and intolerance. I don’t know what will upend that. We surely should put more emphasis on Science and Civics. Civics education, particularly, needs to be in the 12th grade. There is no knowledge of more importance for graduating seniors. They need to become aware of the importance of being effective citizens immediately before leaving high school. In Arkansas, we have half a year of Civics and half a year of economics in the 9th grade.

  7. My little sticker on the back of my aging vehicle Ruby, says, “I am a bright blue dot in a really red state.” So far, no wacko has tried to Ruby and me off the road because of a sticker. When a probably inebriated influential Nashvillian did that to a dad (with just such a sticker on his car) who had just picked up his child from school, running them off the road and causing a wreck, I knew that even bumper or window stickers could be cause for road rage.

    The world, not just the League of Women Voters, should have heard Sheila’s intended speech. Ahhhh…but for the rotten weather. And the same world should be able to read the great comments (pro and con) expressed here today and every day. If it weren’t for Sheila and others who offer such great avenues for venting, we might all be crazier than we already are. We have to work right where we are to change the blatantly obvious voter discrimination and district maneuvering going on in every state. Our little Southern state is full of just such sleight-of-hand tricks and skullduggery. It’s ugly and it must stop.

    Now, pause to think of what went down with NBC Nightly News’ Brian Williams and what is going down now with Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly. Think the playing field is level? Think again.

    I hope the League of Women Voters can reschedule Sheila’s talk for a day with better weather. No telling when that would be.

  8. Between beating the drum for term limits and beating the drum for civic literacy and public participation in our republic, I’ll take literacy. Term limits is a relatively easy but ineffective quick fix. The idea that 18% participated in the most recent election allowed the demagogues to take office, gave comfort to the ones in office and allowed people to shout that the people spoke when 78% of the voters were silent. Sheila’s comments build a compelling case for literacy and participation, but do we actually need to be convinced that a large and informed voter turnout builds a strong democracy? The quick and easy “fixes”, like term limits don’t fix the most difficult problem: Why is it such a problem to effectively motivate the public to do the hard thing and become informed and participate when their lives and fortunes are at stake? All those empty faux heroic claims about “give me liberty or give me death” are hollow, when it’s shown that you don’t have to die for your country if you choose to actually live for it. That is the difficult task, but worth the effort, because it can save the republic. True patriots educate themselves and vote intelligently, but it’s the kind of patriotism that works quietly, without fanfare, but it can be dynamite.

  9. Sheila,
    As a member of the League of Women Voters of Indianapolis and a member of a LWV national task force on redistricting I so appreciate your comments concerning the pernicious effects of gerrymandering. I regret that that our weather got in the way of hearing you in person. I was supposed to share a few comments yesterday about the redistricting coalition that the LWV of Indiana and Common Cause have worked to create on behalf of redistricting reform. We are following closely HB1003 and are lobbying for expert citizens to be appointed to the study commission that will undoubtedly come of the 2015 General Assembly. This bill is our best hope of getting redistricting reform in place before the 2020 census and the maps are redrawn in 2021. The League of Women Voters is a non partisan political organization doing everything we can in ‘making democracy work’. Thank you for everything you are doing to promote civic literacy and helping to keep this great experiment of democracy alive and well.

  10. There is simply no evidence that people in Indiana are being turned away at the polls because they’re required to show photo ID. Rather the chief reason turnout is down is because we have inflated voter registration rolls with scores of deceased voters on the rolls along with voters registered at multiple residencies. This artificially drives down the turnout rate.

  11. Sheila – Your prescriptions for what ails us are right on. In a recent interview at the Brookings Institute, Sen. Bernie Sanders said that if 2 million people gave him $100 each to run for president, that would be 20% of what the Koch brothers alone are prepared to spend.

    It’s said that Members of Congress must spend hours each day to raise the thousands to be competitive in their next campaigns. The needed amount per day increased with the advent of Citizens United and unlimited expenditures by independent PACs.
    I keep hoping that the onerous task of constant begging will grow so old that all politicians will make the needed changes in campaign finance laws. Until then, education, social media, and voting will have to do their best to keep democracy alive and the privatizers at bay.

  12. Thank you for a very well written piece. I would hope the LWV would reschedule so you can present it as it should be. A great number of our citizens need to read this, get up and take part in this society.

    I note a great deal of political fear among many people. Fear of government, fear of governmental reprisals if they stand up and speak their minds. And they have reason to fear. This government, at all levels, is out of control. It is up to the people to bring it back.

    Like a bully, government and politicians really fear the people, so they behave boorishly, threaten, steal from and even kill to boost fear in the people. When one is scared of the government, one tends to walk a straight and narrow path, not looking around, keeping one’s head down and hoping no one notices them. Government can do what it wants at that point.

    The government still respects the rule of law, and the rights of the people to elect their representatives. Otherwise, they would not go to such lengths to go around laws and liberties that still exist in this nation and would simply remove them. They may very well be in the process of doing that.

    As with a bully, when you turn around and smack them a good one, they usually back down. It is imperative that if this nation, this state, this city, are going to survive with any semblance of freedom, that the people stand up to this government and demand positive change.

  13. Sheila, I agree with you 100%. I live in Westfield, and very rarely ever have a challenger to the republican in any category for local offices. I always vote, but unfortunately it winds up being for the lesser evil. I hope the LWV can have an positive impact on the redistricting issues.

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