Our Democracy: The Money Hurts Coral Gables, Too

This is my view on our weakening democracy.

We all know that our political system now runs on money and powerful political advertising (“the message”).  There is very little effort or opportunity to discuss transcendental economic, financial and social problems that afflict our society.  Campaign issues are fabricated and simplified to draw support from one or another groups of voters, even though the issues are not relevant for governance.

Our democratic system was created on a philosophy of openness and access, but now our democracy is, in point of fact, mainly open to those who influence the system through money and their subordinate organizations (political parties), who select their candidates and supply the money or the wherewithal to get the money (fund raising).

Ideally, the system should be more open, less gerrymandered locally and nationally and less influenced by monied interests.  We understand that an open system is a goal, an ideal.  But there should be a better balance between monied interests and an openness that allows for more public participation, an open government and less outright influence peddling or corruption.

Our politicians are drawn to openness and participation during campaigns, but in governing our city there is plenty evidence that the politicians are afraid to subjects the decision making process to greater community involvement.

Coral Gables is not exempt from the deficiencies of our current system in which limited groups finance election campaigns.  A passive electorate (none more passive that Coral Gables!) has failed to educate itself and fight against the government decision making that limits access to public opinion.  We will soon be occupied by the annual budget exercise of the City of Coral Gables and, if it were not compulsory by law, we might find it hard to get access to speak.

About Stephen E. McGaughey
International consultant in economic development programs and projects

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