Let us imagine two things. First, that the United States Voters’ Rights Amendment has been enacted and ratified as the result of a mass, nonpartisan, political movement, and that we can take a time trip into the future to see the results. Let’s visit that not-so-distant time and observe what the People have been able to accomplish—once they took control of their own government.
The Present Crisis. Standing amidst the shambles of the most divisive, least inspiring, and nastiest presidential election in American history—wondering what the future holds in a society increasingly dominated by corporations and the wealthy elite—it is difficult for many of us, particularly our young people, to imagine a bright and happy future.
The two-party electoral system of the United States has completely failed. The two major political parties no longer represent the great majority of the People, and they do not produce viable candidates for the presidency. Candidates do not address the most critical issues facing the nation, nor do they offer solutions that benefit the People. Without a meaningful choice, voters are forced to select the lesser of two evils, or they give up and don’t vote at all.
Having been sold to the highest bidder by its representatives, the government does not represent the People. The government and those seeking elective office deliberately deceive the People into acting contrary to their interests. Truth, honor, and fair dealing have no place in the political process—only raw power and the benefits it confers on the rich and powerful.
Many different initiatives to repair various elements of the electoral system have been proposed, including the curtailment of corporate constitutional rights. While the elimination of corporate personhood and control of campaign financing would be beneficial, they would not ensure the right to cast effective votes—which is the sine qua non of a democratic republic.
The Remedy. The United States Voters’ Rights Amendment (USVRA) is a comprehensive electoral solution that not only provides the right to vote, but also addresses the various issues that interfere with the ability of the People to vote effectively. These include voter registration and suppression, paper ballots, voting holidays, popular elections, campaign financing, gerrymandering, and conflicts of interest; however, the USVRA goes much further. By requiring the government to tell the truth to the People and by providing the means to educate voters about their civic responsibilities, the amendment allows the People to make political policy for themselves and to select responsible representatives who will implement their policies.
As a new Bill of Rights for voters, the USVRA will transform the United States government into a true representative democracy—one which will again serve as a model for other nations around the world.
The USVRA will reorient the government to the People and their society, and it will provide the means to make the government work for their benefit. It will nurture, rather than oppress, and it will help, rather than harm those who formed the government and to whom it belongs.
Humans have the inherent ability to evolve in order to meet new challenges. The only question is whether the American People have the collective strength of character and flexibility of mind to endure the process of change. If we believe strongly enough in ourselves, and if we are prepared to think for ourselves, we will do what is required to allow our children to survive and thrive in the new millennium.
The Vision. It is always difficult to accurately predict the future. At the time of those born only 20 years ago, iPads, iPods, smartphones, digital cameras and video recorders, fiber optic cables and satellite television, Facebook, YouTube, NetFlix, personal GPS systems, drones, Uber, and self-driving cars would have been considered by most to be pure fantasy. We have now witnessed all of these marvelous creations—plus many more—come true. What then of the future in just another 20 years? Will the world be a bright and happy place, or will it be dark and dismal? What’s in store for those born today?
The year is 2037, and the government has come to care for and nurture the people who elect it. Knowledge is widespread, women participate equally, and the individual rights of everyone are protected and defended, irrespective of race or status.
The government tells the truth to its citizens, and it ensures that all students are educated about their government and their civic responsibilities. The University of the United States oversees the military academies and other service academies, such as justice, education, health, nutrition and agriculture, energy, transportation, economics, science, technology, government, and diplomacy. Students are allowed to specialize after first being instructed in the essential values and processes of a free and democratic government.
Rather than having to choose among policy platforms proposed by political candidates, the people more directly make their own policies through referenda, and they very carefully select representatives they trust to implement their policies.
Paid election holidays honor the voters, as they celebrate the most vital part of their political life. Informed voters demonstrate their power over their governments, as they thoughtfully answer the policy questions on their paper ballots and carefully write in the names of the candidates they choose.
Corporations, labor unions, and other fictitious legal entities no longer enjoy the constitutional rights of individuals. They are closely controlled and reasonably taxed to ensure they fairly share the burden of their existence, and they are not allowed to become so powerful as to threaten the rights and safety of individuals or the sanctity of self-government.
Freed from the corrupting influence of special interests and burdensome income taxes, the government is almost entirely supported by a slight toll tax on every financial transaction, including currency speculation, interbank loans, trade in stocks and bonds, and the payment for all goods and services throughout the economy.
The substantial tax revenues raised by the fair and simple toll tax provide complete funding for education at the local and state level through college. Tuition is free for all students through community college. A bachelor’s degree is free for young people who contribute a year of valuable public service upon attaining adulthood, and for those who contribute two years—a master’s degree.
Proceeds of the toll tax are also adequate to completely pay for world-class health, dental, optical, and mental health care for everyone, irrespective of wealth or income. Medical clinics have been established in all educational facilities serving their students and residents of the immediate neighborhoods, and on-site health care is provided at all businesses—once they employ a sufficient number of workers.
The cost of providing health care and worker’s compensation insurance has been lifted from all employers, resulting in a rise in both productivity and profits.
Individuals who opt out of the national health system and obtain their own health care are allowed a deduction on their annual toll tax return for the per capita value of national health care. In practice, because of the very low taxes paid by individuals and the very high quality of national health care, very few people choose private insurance.
Safe and effective methods of birth control are freely available for all women, who have the unrestricted personal choice whether or not they will bear children. Irrespective of their decisions, women receive the full support of their families, communities, and governments.
With the heavy cost of public health care and education lifted from municipal and state governments, general welfare assistance is largely provided on a local basis where needs can be more accurately, fairly, and economically accessed and administered.
In our future democratic republic, the size of its government has been substantially reduced, as its mission has been redirected from the enforcement of complex regulations to the establishment of binding legal presumptions and minimum damages. These procedural legal devices reduce the cost of doing business and the burden of litigation. They are relied on by aggrieved individuals and businesses, when they present their complaints to the courts or privately arbitrate their disputes.
The private Federal Reserve System—which had been operated by private banks for their own profit—has been abolished. In its place, the federal and state governments have established their own public banks, which issue and control the national currency and loan money for government operations. By saving the interest formerly paid to private banks, the cost of government has been greatly reduced.
The federal public bank has become the depository for a solvent national retirement system, which operates in addition to the safety net of social security insurance. Voluntarily contributed by workers and their employers—and guaranteed by the government—retirement funds are primarily invested in small businesses and the construction and maintenance of national, state, and local infrastructures.
Increased investment and reduced costs have reliably improved the ability of small businesses to compete in world markets, resulting in economic stability—internationally. The economy is providing jobs to everyone who wants to work, and a balance between labor and capital has been achieved.
All businesses, including large corporations, have come to recognize it is to their advantage to have a well-paid, healthy, rested, and happy workforce and have joined with organized labor to support improvements in basic working conditions. The standard now includes a sustaining minimum wage, paid sick and maternity leave, four weeks of annual paid vacation, and a four-day workweek, allowing a three-day weekend or an extra day off in the middle of the week.
In this imaginary, but achievable, world of the future, the number of countries continues to increase, as large artificial nations—such as the former U.S.S.R.—peacefully resolve themselves into more logical self-governing constitutional entities.
The threat of militarization has been defeated, and nuclear weapons and the international trade in armaments have been eliminated. Governments maintain only very small, but effective defensive forces, which are backed up by volunteer national guards and militias.
All countries have renounced war against other societies as an instrument of national policy. Instead, specifically named individuals, who are proven to pose a danger to the safety and security of their own people and to those of other nations, are now declared to be outlaws, and legislative warrants are issued for their physical arrest. Disputes between governments are arbitrated in the World Court of Justice, rather than on the battlefield. Freed from most conflicts, governments concentrate on solving their own problems, rather than meddling in the affairs of others.
The booming international economy is powered by the energy derived from extensive space-solar collectors placed in gyrosynchronous equatorial orbits (GEO) by a consortium of world governments. The GEO system is primarily dedicated to providing free energy by electrical induction in the surfaces of all major highways and rail systems for inexpensive transportation around the world.
The remaining electrical grid system has come to rely on the widespread use of wind generators and solar collectors—which has resulted in a substantial reduction in the use of fossil fuels and nuclear reactors.
With independence from the need to use fossil fuels for energy, governments have prohibited fracking, the mining of dirty coal, and the exploitation of tar sands as unjustifiable threats to the fragile water supply and shared environment. In addition, with the containment of corporate power, aggressive enforcement of clean water standards has facilitated widespread improvements in the quality of water. Concurrent with these changes, the private ownership of water systems has been prohibited, guaranteeing the continued delivery of affordable, clean drinking water around the world.
Altogether, these changes have resulted in a major reduction in individual and collective stress, and a consequential drop in crime and violence. An initiative to voluntarily reduce the ownership of personal firearms has encouraged the construction of magnificent monuments to the curtailment of violence in front of courthouses and government buildings in every country. These memorials to the victims of violence were built by welding guns, knives, and other weapons into creative and impressive modern sculptures, where streaks of rust have replaced the stains of blood.
The worldwide War on Drugs ended with the decriminalization and reasonable regulation of the personal possession and use of all drugs. With the loss of their markets and enormous profits, the drug cartels and criminal gangs have been disbanded, and the level of associated violence has plummeted. The personal use of drugs has shown an equal decline, as education and treatment options have enabled and empowered individuals to make rational decisions—rather than to be influenced by cultural glorification or being intentionally addicted by drug dealers.
Social and medical improvements in the care and support of the mentally ill minimize the threat of harm they pose to themselves and others.
The private operation of all correctional facilities has been prohibited, and the number of prisons and prisoners has been considerably reduced. The criminal justice system has been effectively reoriented from punishment to rehabilitation. With increased educational and employment opportunities, most people convicted of crimes—particularly youthful offenders—benefit from supervised probation rather than incarceration.
Perhaps most importantly, in the world of tomorrow, we find that the energy of young people has been redirected from gangs, drugs, and nihilism towards games, competitions, and creative endeavors, such as art, music, dance, drama, and the design and invention of an endless stream of new and improved computerized devices, software, and applications.
Transformation. As uplifting as this alternative vision of the future may be, today’s reality is that the government of the United States of America is in grave danger of becoming an irreversible plutocracy (controlled by the wealthy).
The U.S. Constitution does not presently guarantee that the People have the right to vote. To secure that right and to preserve their freedom, the People, irrespective of their individual political persuasion conservative, progressive, libertarian, green, or independent must come together with a common purpose.
Thus united, the People will not only restrain the power of the plutocracy, but the People will transform their government into something unlike anything ever achieved on Earth. The United States government will become oriented to the society that elects it, and the needs, aspiration, and well-being of the People will become paramount.
The founding of the United States and the creation of its Constitution were done by individuals who had the ability to dream on a large scale. If the government of the United States is to be salvaged and the freedom of its People is to be preserved, the People must once again share a grand vision of transforming their government, rather than reforming it.
The collective knowledge, intelligence, and wisdom of the People far exceeds that of any individual, and transformation will result from an achievement and application of that collective power. Although the opposition to change is great and the process of change may appear overwhelming, the inherent and potential power of the People is beyond measure. Repression is regressive, limited, and harmful¯the power of freedom is progressive, unlimited, and healing.
Recent history provides vivid examples of how people power can overcome dictatorial power. The collapse of the communist regimes in Eastern Europe and East Germany resulted from popular social and political movements that continued to gain strength, even in the face of severe repression. The disintegration of the Soviet Union into 15 separate countries came from an irresistible groundswell of popular demand for political and economic freedom. More recently, the “Arab Spring” that commenced in 2010 in Tunisia and spread throughout northern Africa and the Middle East was led by young people in those nations.
The People of the United States are not powerless. The foundation of their strength is a realization that their primary weakness results from concerted efforts by the political and economic elite to divide them. The greatest power of the People is the sharing of a common goal and their determination to force the opposition to address their real issues and concerns, rather than to attack and undermine their unity.
The time is ripe for change. The People retain and possess far more political potential than they imagine; however that power is fleeting, and once the moment passes, the opportunity for a peaceful transformation may be lost forever.
The Millennials Will Lead the Way. The future belongs to the young people—they are the ones who will have to cope with the economic, environmental, military, and social issues they inherit. Unless these are addressed, the problems will still be there tomorrow particularly if reasonable solutions continue to be successfully opposed and defeated by the corporate and wealthy elite.
The Millennials are members of the generation who have reached adulthood in the twenty-first century. They have grown up with smartphones, texting, computers, email, the Internet, and social networking. They are master communicators and active participants in the new media they are connected and online all the time. They are ethnically diverse; they are more empathetic and have a better understanding of the perspective of others. Millennials have a great concern for the well-being of their friends, their communities, and the environment. They are positive about their own futures and that of their country.
The Millenials are more politically independent, and the self-confidence they have gained since infancy empowers them to play a leadership role in a social and political movement that will transform and reorient the government of the United States toward the society that elects it. Their government will come to protect them and their children as they enter into a future that will be magnificent beyond their wildest dreams. They are confident, yet they are challenged. The question is whether they will become committed to and focused upon a practical objective.
Can anyone predict the ultimate outcome of a small group of students who organize a Youth for the Voters’ Rights Amendment (Y4VRA) Association on a single college campus? The ultimate connectivity of just a few students to their “friends,” and the friends of their friends—on the social media and around the world—has infinite potential for social and political change.
The world recently watched the power of digital networking to turn out millions of women in Washington, DC, and across the United States to oppose the policies of President Donald Trump. As scientists organize a March for Science and other groups prepare for the National Pride March, the Trump Taxes March, the Immigrant’s March, and the March for Justice and Equality, the USVRA has the logical integrity to unify these elements into a national, nonpartisan, political movement. This is because it can provide an effective voice to each movement and empower its participants to make a difference in their collective future. If the People of the United States are prepared to bring about a transformation of their own government, all that is required is a catalyst to bring these elements together.
Will the young people of America be the spark that ignites the nonviolent peaceful evolution? Answering that question is the most important test the current generation of young people will ever have to take, and the grade they earn will be forever marked in the annals of human civilization.
William John Cox is a retired public interest lawyer who filed a class action lawsuit in 1979 on behalf of all citizens of the United States alleging that the government was controlled by corporations and special interest groups and no longer represented those who elected it. As a remedy, he asked that a national policy referendum be ordered coexistent with presidential elections. He has continued to write extensively on policy and political matters, including Transforming America: A Voters’ Bill of Rights and The Book of Mindkind: A philosophy for the New Millennium, from which portions of this article were adapted. His website is williamjohncox.com, and he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.