Motion Sickness on the Seesaw of Hope

by Rebecca Blumenshine // Published January 30, 2009
In the wake of the inauguration of Barack Obama, many Americans are holding their breaths waiting to see how the Obama administration will address "our issues."

We are like defenders on the basketball court trying to stay on our toes. We know we must be ready to go left or right, front or back depending on Obama's moves. We also know that, depending on what "our issues" are, Obama's team might not be passing the ball to our side of the court anytime soon.

This is a funny feeling. We are in limbo between two powerful gravitational pulls. One is movement, triggered by the Obama campaign, towards major and immediate change. Another is the static inertia of the Washington political system. Is this a recipe for disastrous electorate disappointment? Will the letdown be so extreme that ultimately it will lead to even more civic disengagement? This is a frightening tightrope to be walking. And it is a foreseeable symptom of an antiquated democratic system.

In a democracy appropriate to our time, we would rest assured that electorate voices would consistently be represented to some degree throughout presidential terms. This could best be achieved through electoral reform in what once was known as the "People's House," the U.S. House of Representatives. In a real democracy, the various issues of a population would be represented at the table before, during and after changes in presidential administrations.

In short, it is time for the U.S to grow up and evolve away from winner-take-all federal legislative bodies. We need more and new people at the table. We need governing systems that allow for proportional representation of the American population. The People's House should be Congress, not the White House.

The political, cultural and ecological challenges that our governing bodies confront today cannot afford to bend solely to the whims of campaign marketing orgies every 4 or 8 years. At the current table of American government, the dinner invitees have been seesawing to the detriment of their electorate for far too long. In this time of obvious and painful national and international crisis, we are all ready for change. That change ought to truly confront the brokenness of our democracy.

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