How powerful that the Women’s March assembled almost three million demonstrators around the country — and how disturbing that that is the margin by which Clinton won the popular vote. The marchers represent a beautiful diversity of causes — and the stifling of democracy by antiquated institutions.
In response to we who criticize the distortion of democracy, people like to say, “We don’t live in a democracy; we live in a republic.” But a republic is a form of democracy. A pure democracy is impractical, if not impossible, so democracy must be mediated by a form that facilitates the unwieldy process of majority rule, e.g., by electing representatives to govern.
The problem with our system today is that various distortions — including the electoral college, gerrymandering, barriers to voting, unrestricted campaign spending, and poor civic education — conspire to undermine the democratic essence (voting) and even the republican form (representation) of our government.
Since we cannot expect the power-holders who benefit from these distortions to correct them, we must work that much harder to overcome the odds stacked against us. We need a platform that can unite not only the current coalition of diverse viewpoints comprising the Democratic party but also an influx of new members to form a gerrymander-proof electoral super-majority.
The message must be more basic and more universally appealing than the many meritorious causes currently animating the Democratic party. The economic populism that fueled the unlikely rise of democratic socialist Bernie Sanders points the way. The message is just as simple, yet far more inclusive and accurate, than Trump’s patriarchal white nationalism: We are the 99%.