Our founding fathers set up a system of government that intentionally made it difficult to pass legislation. They feared the power of unfettered authority, and desired a structure that would protect individual rights, and would keep minorities safe from the tyranny of the majority. A wonderful system, and it has worked well.
It’s not working so well any more. Our government seems incapable of doing anything well, and is almost certainly incapable of doing the right thing. Part of the reason is the inherent structure. Legislation has to pass both houses of Congress, and then be signed by the President. But the biggest reason Congress is such a sinkhole of stupidity can be laid on the steps of the Supreme Court.
Actually, two reasons, neither of which was anticipated by the original authors of the Constitution. The Supreme Court has issued two rulings which together have completely upended and subverted our government. They might appear benign or innocuous, but they unleashed a sort of cancer that’s consuming our leaders.
Ruling one: that corporations have the 1st Amendment right to freedom of speech. Ruling two: that campaign contributions are political speech. That’s it; we’re toast.
You can see where this is going. Politicians have to get elected, then reelected, and that takes increasingly large amounts of money. Who has money to give? Rich people and corporations, mostly. Given the two rulings I mentioned, we can’t really restrict the amount of money corporations can spend to influence legislation.
NPR is following the obscene money being spent on the health care bill. Have a look. Click on the photo and gaze (in disgust, or fear, or maybe wonderment) at all the lobbyists leeched onto the hearing. Business is well represented; you and I aren’t. I know, we elect “representatives,” but they don’t give a shit about us. Our vote they care about, periodically, but us, not one whit.
We no longer have a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. We have a government of the people, by the elite and well connected, for the corporations. And we can’t do anything about it.