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Agreed on the need for greater contact and accountability during terms and while policy is being made.  I would not go quite so far as to say that the lobbying structure is reserved entirely for the forces of evil, but a 85/15 split seems about right.

In my vague and ill-informed opinion, the key to fixing democracy is to have most people involved in real decision making, most of the time.  Those not currently involved in decision making should instead be involved in some sort of political party, activist group, movement, or whatever.  This would only work if it was seen as a valuable responsibility and privilege of citizenship, and participation in politics a necessary public service, rather than a burdensome annoyance loved only by a bizarre and fanatical minority.

This sort of system would need some rather serious devolution of power to work, or the breakup of modern nation states into many, many micro-states.  The problems of that are well known, and furthermore there are many problems both prosaic (traffic management and land use) and extraordinary (war) which need organization at a higher level.  Further, business and whatnot works better with fewer distinct sets of laws, not more.  So there's those problems.

But without some sort of mass involvement in politics, on a regular and sustained basis, there simply isn't a counterweight to the loud and greedy rich.  Well, I suppose you could use law to prevent their existence to begin with, but I'm already well into utopian speculation, so . . .

by Zwackus on Sat Mar 12th, 2011 at 07:30:56 PM EST
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There are lots of ways for people to engage in a democratic polity - through Trade Union membership, community associations, advocacy groups, academic think tanks,  mainstream and on-line media - as well as the more traditional political party route. Furthermore, some public processes (e.g. planning decisions) require public consultations and can be subject to judicial review. When allied to having access to your local member of parliament, all of this can ameliorate the sense of powerlessness many people feel between elections - as well as at election time itself.

The problem is that the agenda is currently being driven by a perception of reality which requires an obeisance to the demands of global capitalism, financial markets, too big to fail banks, and Ms Merkel et al who have other fish to fry. But that is a problem of leadership as much as it is one of accountability or participation.

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by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Mar 12th, 2011 at 07:54:09 PM EST
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