Must Read Books:|
Who Will Tell the People
Note: The following are notes from the above book. I found the book seminal, eye-opening, life-changing. I recommend that you buy and read the entire book. Only by reading the entire book will you get the whole picture. The following quotes, I hope, will whet your appetite. --Colby Glass
(see Greider's Secrets of the Temple about the Federal Reserve system.)
"The blunt message of this book is that American democracy is in much deeper trouble than most people wish to acknowledge... What exists behind the formal shell is a systematic breakdown of the shared civic values we call democracy" (11).
"The connective tissues that in different ways once linked ordinary people to governing-- political parties, the media, the secondary mediating institutions--no longer function reliably" (12).
"Democratic expectations are now confined and debilitated by the new power relationships that surround government and are buried in the everyday context of the nation's politics-- tacit understandings that determine who has political power and who doesn't" (12).
"...why the actual condition of democracy is difficult to grasp is that the form and facade of self-government remain elaborately in place... the mechanics of electoral democracy are now more highly developed (and more costly) than at any other time in history" (13).
"...the democratic problem originates from a different source--the politics of governing, not the politics of winning elections... the practical questions of how and why some interests are allowed to dominate the government's decision making while others are excluded" (13).
"These [are] the basic tenets of the civic faith:
The system is no longer self-correcting... "...the democratic problem in its bleakest dimensions: Instead of a politics that leads the society sooner or later to confront its problems, American politics has developed new ways to hide from them" (15).
"At its best moments and its worst, the democratic system is a kind of two-way mirror between the people and those who are chosen to represent them... If Washington is a city infested by fools and knaves, hwere did they come from and who sent them?" (16-17).
"Ernesto Cortes, Jr., a highly regarded community organizer from San Antonio, Texas, has observed that Lord Acton's oft-quoted aphorism--"power tends to corrupt..."--works both ways... "Powerlessness also corrupts," Cortes said. "We've got a lot of people who've never developed an understanding of power. They've been institutionally trained to be passive. Power is nothing more than the ability to act in your own behalf. In Spanish, we call the word poder, to have capacity, to be able."" (20).
"Electoral politics in the age of mass communications serves as an elaborate mask--concealing what goes on in government from the untutored mass of voters. But, if the voters have only weak influence over those governing decisions, then who does influence them? That is the question neither political party will discuss with any candor, but citizens at large have inferred the answer. In the 1960s, surveys found that 28 percent of the public was convinced that "the government is pretty much run by a few big interests looking out for themselves." A generation later, this resigned view of politics was held by two thirds of the people" (23).
(Dr. Roueche, head of the Community College Leadership Program at UT Austin (which trains doctoral students for the position of president of colleges) says that the first principle of leadership and politics is to ignore what people say to you; focus instead on what they actually DO).
".. neither Democrats nor Republicans nor their allied interests--have any incentive to remove the mask... After all, it works for them. The elected officials of both parties, as well as their supporting interests, understand that their power relationships are sustained by the present arrangement of empty elections. They may occasionally lament the decline in voting, but incumbents are not threatened by this. The fewer citizens who are paying attention and actually voting, the easier it will be for the status quo to endure" (23).
Please send comments to: Colby Glass, MLIS