On issues that matter …

Towards a Direct Democracy November 10, 2012


After almost a year of acrimonious campaigning and more than $2 billion in campaign expenditure later, Washington D.C. is back exactly to where it was: in a Congressional gridlock.

The Republicans are perhaps still recovering from the Sandy-style election night results. But thanks to his decisive victory President Obama has already gained a head start on political posturing, a lot of which we have heard, well, many times over in the last four years.

Just two days after being declared victorious in the elections and even before his tears of gratitude towards his miracle-worker staffers have dried (by the way, I am convinced those were real, and not PR managed, tears that he shed while thanking his amazing campaign staff ), President Obama is already making his trademark direct appeals to the electorate. He wants the people to push House representatives to pass the deficit reduction package – that includes spending cuts, more taxes for the rich and less for the middle class.

As with all his other bills throughout his first term, President Obama is racing against time. This bill has only till the end of December to pass or come January 1, and taxes for 114 million middle class Americans will go up. The operative words are: 98% Americans; less $250,000 annual income; a balanced approach.

That spells S-O-C-I-A-L-I-S-M and frankly, I see nothing wrong with it – not the spelling, I mean the spirit of it. With the American Dream becoming frustratingly elusive for hard working Americans (unless one happens to win a lotto jackpot) I am sure not many would mind this not-so-capitalistic language, especially if they open their mind to the prevalent abusive language of crony capitalists.

So, before the nation braces itself for another made-for-television, edge-of-the-seat, last-minute gridlock drama, the President has already taken the fight to the people. “Now you have a choice to make,” a White House email appeal to the American people says. “This debate can either stay trapped in Washington DC or you can make sure your friends and neighbors participate.”

And that’s what’s been President Obama’s USP ever since he realized that Washington DC runs on politics and not policy or principle – go straight to the people, make democracy work by forcing people to participate and actually use the democratic tools at their disposal to exercise their power.

A thumping victory at the polls is perhaps only a vindication of his cunning understanding of the real democratic tools of power – the people themselves.

Now, when the President says in his remarks from the White House, “The American people understand that we’re going to have differences and disagreements in the months to come…but on Tuesday (Election Day), they said loud and clear that they won’t tolerate dysfunction”, he is reminding the people that the real barrier to their progress is Congress and that the onus of getting it to work is on the people.

He has thrown the ring-side bleachers to the nation’s capital open to Americans, not just to watch as spectators but to join in the fray.

I must say I like this. I would subscribe to this version of democracy. And this according to me, is Direct Democracy.


Srirekha Chakravarty








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