As citizens, we have given up ownership of our democratic system. It has been taken over by special interest groups and the friends and financial supporters of those in power. Wealthy men clothe themselves in the trappings of populism claiming to represent the average voter. Slogans have replaced thoughtfully planned policy. Public opinion is swayed by social media campaigns that appeal to our most basic fears and emotions.
Is there anything we can do to restore a compassionate democratic process that serves citizens as opposed to corporations and special interests?
Seek depth of understanding and speak out. Read about issues in depth and from a wide perspective. When something shows up on your social media feed or is relayed to you by a friend, look into it beyond the surface that usually bubbles with anger. Don't let false information stand unchallenged.
Broaden your perspective. We live in a broadly multicultural society but still tend to socialize and interact with people like ourselves. Get to know your neighbour who may be different. Learn their history and share yours. Communicate with the goal of understanding.
Be an active participant in democracy. Engage candidates to understand their perspective and share your thoughts and concerns. Too many citizens feel so disenfranchised that they don't even bother to vote, thinking that it doesn't matter. Imagine how accurately our government could reflect our communities if everyone voted. Compulsory voting may not be the answer but perhaps there should be an incentive to vote. A coupon for a free lunch when you vote or a perhaps a tax credit for being an active participant in democracy.
If we stand in the wings and do nothing, we will most certainly have a government that does not reflect our values and aspirations. We have a responsibility to be a better than what we are becoming.