Action Plans for Democracy
In “Needed: More Democracy” [April 22], John Nichols talks of many things that are required to “bring full democracy to the United States.” Perhaps he should start smaller—like the highly undemocratic Democratic Party.
As far back as Henry Wallace, this party has usurped the will of the people time and time again. The party’s behavior in 2016, when it cheated Senator Bernie Sanders, was right in line with its history of strong-arm tactics.
Real reform should start there. The Democratic Party elites lost the 2016 election to a buffoon, offering us a candidate who showed little concern for the needs of the people. The superdelegates of the party are a slap in the face of the rank and file. The entrenched powers in the Democratic Party leadership must go; otherwise, there is no chance for reform of the party, much less of America’s (alleged) democracy.
John Nichols notes that “we must make the structural reforms that will bring full democracy to the United States” if we are to achieve major progressive goals like the Green New Deal, Medicare for All, an increased federal minimum wage, and tuition-free college. To that end, Nichols cites a number of such measures—the For the People Act, abolition of the Electoral College, full voting representation for US districts and territories.
These “more democracy” measures would indeed make it easier for Americans to elect a progressive Congress and president. However, none of them address the inconvenient reality that any legislation passed by a progressive Congress and president could survive only to the extent that it did not infringe on the putative rights of corporations and other artificial entities, which the Constitution does not enumerate but which contemporary judicial theory has created. Given the current makeup of the Supreme Court, that theory will not be going anywhere on its own for the foreseeable future.
In this context, Nichols might also have mentioned Representative Pramila Jayapal’s HJ Res. 48, which would amend the Constitution to specify that the constitutional rights of natural persons do not apply to artificial entities and, furthermore, that First Amendment protections do not apply to political campaign spending. The Nation’s readers should be aware that a specific legislative vehicle exists to solve these fundamental flaws in our democracy and that they can easily demand their representatives’ support for this vital reform.
Spreading Hope—and Justice
I was struck by the parallels in two articles in the April 22 issue: Martin Garbus’s “What I Saw at an Immigrant-Detention Center” and Lauren Gill’s “Fighting for Life on Death Row.” Both are gripping, honest stories of people close to despair. How can this be America? Women and children who are seeking asylum put into cages. Men, facing death, in cages for years and years.
The detention centers are appalling, as are their horrid profit-making goals. But reading about Project Hope in Gill’s article was a moving, inspiring reflection of the resilience of this group in facing trauma. The United States is in desperate need of a countrywide Project Hope.
Mary Ann Hannon
west yarmouth, mass.