Juan Cole has a thoughtful piece on his blog entitled “10 Ways Arab Democracies Can Avoid American Mistakes“. In it, he encourages the new democracies emerging in the Middle East to avoid making the same mistakes that are causing so much trouble in the US.
What I find ironic is that his article is really not about the new Arab democracies at all. It is a prescription for fixing what is wrong with the US (even though he acknowledges that it is probably too late for us).
But it makes a good list of what we should be trying to accomplish if we want to save our ailing US democracy:
- Ban all television advertising for political campaigns (other countries have already done this, so it isn’t a crazy idea).
- Hold your elections on non-work days or make them a holiday.
- Make voter registration automatic and compulsory.
- Maybe even make voting compulsory. After all, military service is compulsory, so why not voting?
- Have a comprehensive bill of rights in your constitution, including electronic rights to privacy. Limit or abolish “secret police”.
- Restrict military spending to defending your borders.
- Keep your judiciary out of politics. And never, ever allow corporations to be declared persons.
- Protect worker’s rights, including the right to unionize.
- Strongly prohibit monopolies.
I know the “No Labels” organization is fighting for some of these. Do they have a chance? Or is it really too late for us?