151. A Vacuum of Influence

“Nature abhors a vacuum” is still true and especially true in the legislative chambers of Congress, (double entendre intentional).  The vacuum of influence that was caused by the “Apportionment Act of 1911” has been filled by special interest groups, political action committees, and corporate lobbies, for example, for their own purposes, not the public’s.  The irony of this situation is that as the ability of citizens to influence their representative decreased the capability of citizens to communicate with their elected and appointed public executives increased as robustly.  Citizens are now better educated and better informed, with incredible technologies that empower them to communicate instantaneously with almost anyone anywhere in the world.  It is here that we can see a crack in the door of opportunity that provides a beacon of light for an evolved form of democracy that is very, very similar to what exists today, but far more effective to sustain a democratic society and economy.

What the authors of the Constitution did not anticipate was the immense social and economic changes that their newborn democracy would empower in a burgeoning population of hundreds of thousands of citizens experiencing their first personal right of self-determination to improve the quality of their lives and in doing so would also improve the collective quality of life of all citizens!  The Founders at the time had no idea what they had created in their new democracy in terms of opportunities and the potential creativity it would unleash.

They did not anticipate the pervasive, constant, and perennial nature of social change that they had brought into existence as immigrants would be powerfully attracted to this new democracy, a land of opportunity to become all that you could imagine and more.  Population growth and rapid social change effectively left the new democratic political and governmental processes isolated like an island in an unrelenting river of social and economic change.

Thomas Jefferson recognized in 1816 that the government and political system that he and the other signers of the Constitution had created was already falling behind “the times.”  He forecast the need for laws and constitutions to change accordingly.

"I am not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and constitutions.  But laws and institutions must go hand and hand with the progress of the human mind.  As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths discovered and manners and opinion change, with the circumstances, institutions must advance able to keep pace with the times...."  Thomas Jefferson,from a letter to Samuel Kercheval, July 12, 1816.

Now, let us all become a Thomas Jefferson with his will to create a new democracy.