America’s Democracy is No More; Can We Ever Restore it?

Republicans vow to undo President Obama's new designations, but do they have the power to do so?

Many millions of Americans still think they live in a democracy and don’t seem to comprehend that their former system of democracy has succumbed to an overwhelming force and is no more. We may vociferously deny it but that’s reality. So the next obvious question is: what system of government do we now have in America?

To answer that question let’s analyze the situation and determine which entity is now setting this country’s direction, its agenda, and its key objectives. We now know for certain that the people of this country no longer have the power or say relative to the direction this government takes; their voices fall on deaf ears, their opinions mean nothing to those now controlling this government. And the process by which U.S. citizens vote has become nothing more than a sham and a disgrace to the principles of real democracy.

A true democracy is a “government by the people in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised directly by them or by their elected agents under a free electoral system.” It is a “system that ensures that people have a direct say in the country’s affairs.” Is that the case in America? Absolutely not; while it once was, it is no more. If anyone still believes that we are living in a democracy then all they have to do is answer this question: do you think this government is following the will of the people and, if so, what proof would you present to back up that belief?

Now back to that original question: what system of government do we currently have? Many of our fellow Americans are now convinced that we are living in an oligarchy, i.e., “a government structure where a relatively small, elite, but very powerful group of individuals possesses all the power.” In the America of today that relatively small group of powerful individuals, many of them billionaires, can be found at the highest levels of U.S. corporations, within Wall Street, and in the company of the wealthiest of Americans; they possess the power that controls America.

There are others who say that we are now living in a plutocracy: “a state, society or government controlled and ruled solely by the wealthiest of Americans, often called the 1%. So in thinking about this form of government that has now replaced democracy, its’ become evident that we are living in a combination oligarchy and plutocracy, very similar which complement each other. However, while it may be a combination, for purposes of this article, let’s call it an oligarchy.

The next question is how and why did we lose our democracy? Well, we lost our democracy because we failed to protect and preserve it and it was dismantled by those whose primary objective was to install their own form of government; one whose objectives no longer were based on what is right for this country and its people but, rather, with the objective of accumulating money, power and profits above all else for those in control.

If I had to choose one single word as the reason why this American democracy no longer exists it would be – Congress. The vast majority of its members, those in each party are now, willingly, owned and controlled by Wall Street and by the massive global corporations of America. These corrupted members of this major branch of the U.S. government have the power to rid this country of the stranglehold that this oligarchy has on America but they have absolutely no intention of doing any such thing. They are totally addicted to corporate money and, as a result, they consider the needs and interests of the American people to be irrelevant.

To support my contention that democracy has been replaced by an oligarchy, let me present this article that refers to a Princeton and Northwestern University study that has concluded that “the American democracy no longer exists.” This article presents facts and evidence that prove beyond a doubt that “over the past few decades America’s political system has slowly transformed from a democracy into an oligarchy, where wealthy elites wield the most power.”

And, all the while all this was happening right before our eyes we just didn’t see it until this country and government fell under the control of the oligarchy. It was as if we had our blinders and ear plugs in place and didn’t see this rapid transformation taking hold. We were lethargic, apathetic, passive, and submissive; we no longer thought voting was important and let the lowest form of incompetent politicians take control of Washington. So to a large extent we the people of America are directly responsible for losing our democracy.

Now the most important question of all; how in the world can the American people ever restore this nation’s democracy when the odds against doing it seem to be so monumental; is there any imaginable way by which this can be accomplished?

We keep hearing that this might happen if the Citizens United case, which opened the doors to massive, unlimited corporate campaign contributions, a decision that quite apparently, hammered the last nail into this democracy’s coffin, were reversed. But that’s totally unrealistic as long as the majority of this current Supreme Court remains under the control of U.S. corporate interests and, quite likely, may never happen.

Some really dedicated Americans say that a Constitutional amendment designed to totally ban all corporate campaign contributions would reverse this situation and that is certainly true. But going down that road is very complex and extremely difficult so the chances of it happening are not good at all.

I fully support these various existing initiatives; to reverse Citizens United, to initiate Constitutional amendments, as well as continuing to pressure Congress to enact legislation for campaign finance reforms. However it is my personal belief that we will never restore this nation’s system of democracy unless and until the mass of the American people rise up as one and take various forms of strong actions to force this government to do their will.

If we are to restore this democracy the people will have to get it done. Therefore the solution(s) will have to come from us. This is a crisis whether we realize it or not. What we need are creative, innovative, and revolutionary ideas to take our democracy back. We have to free our minds from the status quo and think out of the box, for once.

Here’s just one suggestion in undertaking this extremely difficult task. It may not be a perfect solution and to many ready critics it may be unrealistic but it is at least an attempt to do something different. What we need is a group of those near-genius types who created Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to create a gigantic national internet communications network designed to do one specific thing; to unite the mass of Americans to take on the task of taking their country back and restoring their democracy.

It’s a fact that the American people are easily addicted to various kinds of internet social networking programs. What we need is something like Twitter or Facebook on steroids; something to get the people of this country to stop sitting on the sidelines and get them into action to stop this oligarchy from becoming permanently embedded. Once such an extensive communications network would get underway, with untold millions of Americans getting on board, it could generate many different opportunities for enacting change and stimulating new ideas; and because of the immense people power that it would generate, its potential could be unlimited; something that could dramatically impact the future direction of America.

And who knows? If we had such a giant communications network maybe it would be the vehicle that would ignite a new-style Occupy Movement that would spread all across this country; one that would be infinitely larger than the Occupy Movement that once existed. Or better yet it might also result in the development of other similar movements that would recruit millions more Americans to fight for what is right for this country and its people.

Without any doubt the only force that can restore this democracy is the massive power of the people; nothing else will do it. So we the American people have a choice. We must either find a way to ignite that power or we will guarantee that we and our children and those who follow will live their entire lives in this oligarchy that now rules America.


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Michael Payne is an independent progressive activist. His writings deal with social, economic, political and foreign policy issues; and especially with the great dangers involved with the proliferation of perpetual war, the associated defense industry, and the massive control that Corporate America holds over this government and our election process; all which are leading this nation down the road to eventual financial ruin if the conditions are not reversed. He is a graduate of Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois and a U.S. Army veteran.