5.15. Democracy Deadlocked by Design

Nobody benefits more from this fifty-fifty split among the American people than our political and economic elites.

Say you’re a politician, the CEO of a corporation, or some other kind of elite.

You want to shape the political process so that it supports your own interests—so that you get reelected, so that you get rich, and so on.

But there’s a problem.

In theory, the people are supposed to have the power in this country. The people are the ones who get to vote—and every one of their votes counts just as much as yours.

You can’t just take away their right to vote. People wouldn’t stand for that.

But what would be ideal is if you could make them think they have the power…make them hurl all their blood, sweat, and tears into something that seems like it’s working…when, in fact, the outcome is largely predetermined.

That’s what we have in the United States today.

It’s not a conspiracy theory. It’s the inevitable result of political science becoming more sophisticated, of billions of dollars being thrown into politics, and of elites prioritizing their interests over the common good.

I’m not saying we don’t have real disagreements among ourselves. On racism and sexism, on religion and gun control, we really do see things differently.

Nor am I saying you should give up your beliefs, or stop trying to convince others to come around to what you think is right.

I’m saying that certain differences among us have been very deliberately, strategically, and effectively blown up to make us feel like half the American people are monsters.

I’m saying we don’t have a real choice when we vote—because it’s always the same two parties on the ticket: the one that’s the lesser of two evils, and the one you’d never vote for in a million billion years.

I’m saying that by remaining committed to this two-party system that’s deadlocked by design, we the people largely forfeit the power we’re supposed to have in this country.

Nobody benefits more from this fifty-fifty split among the American people than our political and economic elites.

By splitting us into two roughly equal, opposing groups, our efforts effectively cancel out.

In the meantime, they get to keep winning easy reelections in gerrymandered districts, pumping money into politics…and prioritizing their interests over the health, well-being, and prosperity of the people they should be serving.

The most important struggle of our time isn’t liberal versus conservative, or religious versus secular.

It’s people versus institutions.

Institutions can do great things. But they have to be held accountable.

They’re going to cut corners. They’re going to look out for their own interests, first and foremost. They’re going to be wasteful, corrupt, and exploitative, if they think they can get away with it.

And right now…they can.

Because they’ve neutralized the political power we the people are supposed to have.

And we aren’t going to get it back until there’s a paradigm shift in how we talk about politics.

The big choice isn’t between “values” or “beliefs.”

It’s about whose side you’re on, when our institutions are trying to screw over ordinary people for their own benefit.

It’s about whether you want the American people to have the power we’re supposed to have…or whether we should stay stubbornly and self-righteously divided.


This is the 91st in a series of over 150 videos about how to create real, lasting social change. Click here for a list of all titles, videos, and transcripts.

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