American Democracy is Broken: Part I

The larger our population and, ironically, the more information we have, the further the democracy seems to degenerate. Social media echo chambers are polarizing and dumbing-down our electorate. News has become propaganda. Being right at the expense of public benefit has become the norm. What is the state of American democracy?

American Democracy is Collapsing

It seems today we are polarized between two camps. One genuinely wants the best for the working family, international relations and the environment: Democrats. The other camp cares more about profits than people. They care above all about being right, will lie and cheat to get their way regardless of the truth or the law: Republicans.

On April 6, 2017, Republican Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell actually changed the Senate filibuster rules for supreme court nominations, to prevent debate with a simple majority vote of 51. This prevented Democrats from blocking conservative Supreme Court Justice, Neil Gorsuch. The lesson is, once you want and are allowed to break the rules, there are no longer rules to play by.

In 2010, Republicans used a conservative Supreme Court to strike down the federal law prohibiting corporations and unions from making expenditures in connection with federal elections, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. This further tilted our democratic process away from the people to further control by corporations, with nearly unlimited election spending power. Now, corporations have more electoral power than people because they can spend unlimited funds campaigning for their benefit. People cannot compete against multi-billion dollar corporations. Our elections are almost becoming pointless.

This corruption has spread everywhere from federal elections down to the smallest county ballot initiatives. It has even affected my family business here in Southern Oregon. During our local 2014 ballot initiative to ban growing genetically modified (GMO) crops in Jackson and Josephine counties, out-of-state corporations and lobbyists were allowed to spend over $1 million in negative advertising in a county of just 60 thousand voters. Pollen from GMO crops were threatening our family’s seed company crops. Fortunately, the local citizens felt so attacked they passed the ballot measure 2 to 1 to ban growing GMOs in our counties.

Two years later, due to an intensive multi-million dollar, out-of-state, fear-based ad campaign, a statewide Oregon ballot initiative to simply label genetically modified food ingredients was defeated by a narrow margin.

Today, I was listening to the U.S. House Minority Leader, Kevin McCarthy defend President Trump against the ongoing impeachment inquiry. He stated effectively that there is no evidence that President Trump used his power to enlist a foreign government to sway the 2020 presidential election and that President Trump’s request of the Ukrainian President to investigate the family of a political rival’s family was not illegal.

“Our democracy is breaking because the people are not put first. Democracy should truly be an inclusive system where everyone participates and everyone is heard.
In a true democracy there is transparency, accountability, respect, dialog, justice and trust.” — Beth Brown

Once an electorate is dumbed-down, apathetic, manipulated, votes against its own interests, politicians lie, then democratic process cannot defend the people, let alone the environment. The democratic experiment is over.

If you are a working-class person. Don’t believe that if you castaway your vote to the corporations that they will actually give you back higher wages, greater job security, more affordable health care, better schools and a cleaner environment.

Tyranny of the Majority

Democracy works best in small groups with diverse opinions and diverse political parties. Once we are down to just a two-party system, the party in power imposes its will on the other.

The pendulum swings back and forth over time and little real improvement to society occurs. One party try tries to tear down what the prior party built in the prior cycle. For example, Republicans are bent on tearing down Obamacare simply because it was passed by President Obama. They could care less about the merits of the program and have no better alternative to offer.

Little to no social progress is occurring because of two-party gridlock. Real social progress has not been made since the 1960s when the Clean Water and Clean Air, Wilderness and Civil Rights Acts were passed.

Perhaps a single party should have no more than 20 percent of the seats on any legislative body to allow more diverse voices to be heard. Coalitions would be required pass legislation. If a coalition gets out of hand, support can be withdrawn. Regulating party size, would also allow with views, such as the Green Party, to be heard. In my opinion, hate politics should not be permitted as part of free speech.

Some problems are created by both parties combined. Both parties are responsible for wasting almost half of Federal spending on the military and for enslaving our county to the Federal Reserve. Each American owes $65,000 of Federal debt to a small group of private banking families called The Federal Reserve.[1]

There is no way out of this debt except bankruptcy of the U.S. Government. Our generation has let the children down.

Illusions of Freedom and Acquiescing to Control

Voting: We acquiesce to democracy because voting gives us the illusion that we have some control over our destiny. However, when we vote, we are actually giving up our freedom by giving away our sovereignty to a group who will make binding decisions over us. Because we are raised by the cultural control system, we feel this is normal.

The concept of binding decisions made by another over oneself was foreign to many indigenous cultures. In a tribe, no one had control over anyone else. However, the fate for causing substantial trouble  in a tribal community was almost a death sentence: expulsion from the tribe.

Control System: Civilization introduced several concepts to humanity: land ownership, laws, police, prisons, locks, money, profit, debt, wealth, rent, war, etc. Together these comprise the control system.

The control system had to be introduced because civilization broke one of the human social organization evolutionarily laws: humans living with strangers. For hundreds of thousands of years, humans lived in small tribal groups averaging 150. This is about the number of people with whom we can maintain social contact. Beyond this number, more restrictive rules are required to maintain social cohesion.[2]

Today we live almost completely with strangers, except for our families, social circle and work colleagues. For many, this can be a very small group.

No one trusts a stranger today. So transferring a home has become a complex trustless process involving, real estate agents, a title company and the county government. Transferring an automobile requires a title company, bank or lending institution, insurance company and registration at the state DMV.

Giving away our sovereignty is a big deal. A small group can make binding decisions over us from legalized wage slavery to declaring war and sending us to go fight it.

Destructive Freedoms

Civilized society today gives us far greater freedoms to consume and exploit than humanity had in indigenous cultures. Civilization removes evolutionary limits of exploitation, not only of the natural world, but also of each other. There is a reason indigenous humans did not destroy the natural landscape and left old growth forests, perennial prairies and thriving ocean and river fisheries intact; they depended on them for their livelihood. Today, the wild has been replaced by domesticated farms and forestry. We even exploit each other through economics or by force.

Endless digital media distractions are the panacea of the masses. Shopping and the internet are today’s equivalent of Roman games and free or subsidized grain. We may no longer be truly free, but civilization gives us the illusion of feeling free as others make decisions for us.

Better Democracy in Community

The only way back to freedom and not giving away our sovereignty is to stop living with strangers and live in community. This may be our children’s low-energy future anyway after we have burned most of the fossil fuels for transportation. People will have to stay closer to home and closer to resources after big industrial farms become a thing of the past.

The new future hip thing may be small scale independent permaculture communities that can generate or trade for their livelihood. Urban dwelling will last probably for 150-200 more years, but eventually, we will not be able to truck fresh veggies from California to Chicago or New York City. Population densities will get smaller by necessity.

If you want a glimpse into the future of what a more socially connected lifestyle looks like, think community. Look for communities that have existed for 30-50 years and have their own economy.

For example, Breitenbush Hot Springs Retreat Center is surrounded by the Willamette National Forest in Breitenbush, Marion County, Oregon. Breitenbush is a worker-owned cooperative of 50 to 70 people and has been operating in its present form for about 40 years.[3][4] They do not grow a lot of their food, but the community is economically, energy and water independent. The community is tight-knit and has long-established rules that have been worked out over time.

Visit Breitenbush Hot Springs and stay in one of their geothermal-heated cabins, enjoy the organic vegetarian meals, soak and relax. Talk to members to find out more about their community lifestyle and freedoms.

What makes Breitenbush work is that, despite their differences, they have to work out disagreements face-to-face with the people they actually live with.

Discover many more communities at Foundation For Intentional Community website.[5]

It May Take Women To Heal American Democracy

Where are the women in the featured photo above? What a disgrace on the founding fathers. America was founded by wealthy America men. George Washington was the wealthiest. Founding men and women would have created a much more equitable country from the beginning and would have probably avoided the American Civil War by banning slavery and giving the vote to all from the very start.

In the great confederacy of the Iroquois only women could vote. The Iroquois confederacy thrived and did not get into wars until the patriarchal Europeans pushed other tribes into them and poisoned them with smallpox.

Old European Goddess cultures built villages and settlements in places because they were beautiful, not because they were defensible. There was no war or even military artifacts found in Goddess culture archeology or art until the Kurgan men invaded from the east, 4000 to 1000 BC.[6][7][8]

If only women were allowed to vote or if we only allowed women to be leaders, we would have peace, corporate reform, civility, equity, respect, environmental restoration, sustainable family sizes, honored religion and spirituality. His-story shows that women create and nurture life, while men exploit and destroy life.

Think about how the world would be better if women were our leaders. We need more women to vote, to run for office and to win elections.

Share this post with some woman and see what they think.

Chuck Burr is author of Culturequake: The Restoration Revolution.

Editor, Beth Brown.

Also read, Chuck Burr, Culturequake, Democracy 2.0: What it Looks Like.

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[Painting] Wikipedia, The painting shows the five-man drafting committee presenting their draft of the Declaration to the Congress, an event that took place on June 28, 1776, and not the signing of the document, which took place later.

[1] Statista, United States’ national debt per capita from 1990 to 2018 (in U.S. dollars).

[2] Wikipedia, Dunbar’s number.

[3] Wikipedia, Breitenbush Hot Springs.

[4] Breitenbush official website,


[6] Wikipedia, Kurgan hypothesis.

[7] Wikipedia, Marija Gimbutas.

[8] Marija Gimbutas website.