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 Restore Democracy: Limit the Power of Invisible Hand

  The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author


Restore Democracy: Limit the Power of Invisible Hand  3.9.2012  
By Rauf Naqishbendi

September 3, 2012

In a representative democracy the power of the people is delegated to their representatives mandating that, for the period of their incumbency, they act in unison with the good of the great body of people. When sympathy with a class of citizens or the influence of invisible hands is substituted for the good of the nation, the political system violates the founding principles of democracy. The transfer of power from the masses to a few ambitious and rapacious entities has stricken the root of American democracy, imperiling the good of the nation and marring our system of justice.

A system of checks and balances was written into the constitution because the framers were cognizant of the human propensity toward abusive behavior. Therefore they crafted the constitution in such a way that the good of the nation would not be adulterated by the interest of the few, but minorities would also be protected from abuse by the majority. James Madison wrote in this regard in the Federalist, “Let me know ask what circumstance there is in the Constitution of the House of Representatives, that violates the principles of republican government; or favors the elevation of the few on the ruins of the many? Let me ask whether every circumstance is not, on the contrary, strictly conformable to these principles; and scrupulously impartial to the rights and pretensions of every class and description of citizens?”

The subsequent amendments to the constitution, particularly the First Amendment that guarantees freedom of speech, have left the gate to power abuse wide open as their true intent is often misconstrued and their applications based on these false interpretations contradict the aims and intentions of the framers. The founding fathers were firm about their commitment to human liberty and the pursuit of happiness in a framework of moral decency, but these misinterpretations of the Constitution by ensuing generations have transgressed those moral judgments.
The text of the article of the first amendment reads: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” The amendment was meant to empower people to redress grievances, not allow them to bribe politicians to foster the interests of the few and disadvantage the rest. It was created to entitle people to organize, not to permit any group with money to be powerful enough to influence lawmakers by bribing them to enact legislation in their favor. Even the thugs of this society have been able to disseminate profanity and graphic pornography under the banner of the First Amendment.

Candidates for public office need to run their campaigns in such a way that they interact with their electorates. Before the television age, candidates traveled to many locations to inform voters of their vision, agendas and policies, but the process is now vastly different. Now the only connection with most constituents is through mass media, which entails an exorbitant price. Contributions from individuals cannot cover even a fraction of campaign expenses, therefore politicians resort to catering to special interest groups, particularly Political Action Committees. PACs offer monetary contributions to candidates in return for favors, which might include support for the amendment of existing laws or new legislation that favors certain businesses, or unfettered access to the candidate. As this harmful inequity takes place, the rich gain the upper hand and democracy is turned into plutocracy.

Laws are intended to maintain justice and equity in civil societies. The question is, when lawmakers violate the public trust, how can society protect itself against their deceit? Prudence says to vote them all out, but that will not make a dent in the problem because as the system is set up, the next generation will merely be bought with bribes as the old one was. Changes must be made to the system rather than to the lawmakers in order for this moral dilemma to be resolved.

Running for public office requires an excessive amount of funding, which increases incrementally with the power and prestige of the office. As mentioned above, a great majority of those funds is poured into the mass media coffers. In addition to media expenses, candidates need to finance the cost of their campaign offices.

Our broken election system could easily be mended as follows:

First, office costs should be defrayed by donations from individuals, not to exceed $250. Second, media expenses should be eliminated entirely, and instead the government could compensate the media to have live debates of the candidates during the election season as frequently as necessary. Third, candidates should not be allowed to pour their own money into their promotion; this way the wealthiest candidates would be on an equal footing with those less fortunate.

There would not be much, if anything, to lament about American democracy if our system were to abrogate the power of special interest groups. This legislation alone would allow our democracy to function as it was truly meant to, with the people regaining their power. The government would be run by the people and for the people, rather than, as it stands now, with the government run by the wealthy and for the wealthy.

Rauf Naqishbendi is a contributing columnist for, American Chronicle, and, and has written Op/Ed pages for the Los Angeles Times. His memoirs entitled "The Garden Of The Poets", recently published. It reads as a novel depicting his experience and the subsequent 1988 bombing of his hometown with chemical and biological weapons by Saddam Hussein. It is the story of his people´s suffering, and a sneak preview of their culture and history. Rauf Naqishbendi is a software engineer in the San Francisco Bay Area.

ISBN: 978-1-4626-0187-5 ( get The (Zoftcover) ($7.95)

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  The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author


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