Caring for Your Republic

What is a republic? It is a state with the power resting in elected representatives.

Ah, but how many representatives, elected by whom? Would a single dictatorial position elected for life constitute a republic? Would every single vote for whomever you choose counting to elect them as representatives constitute a republic?

What do you do when the representatives choose to represent nothing like your interests? What do you do when the so-called fourth estate (journalism) does the same?

It seems plausible, if you assume that they have both done so, and for the same reasons, that the solution is the same for both cases.

It seems that the reason the representatives fail to represent stems from their reliance upon corporate donations and fund-raising to win reelection, and the reason that the journalists fail to deliver sufficient information to the electorate stems again from their reliance upon corporate support for operations.

The most straightforward manner to remedy this would appear to be to replace the payer. We would expect media that relies mostly on individual subscribers for support, rather than advertisements or corporate subscriptions, would provide the best information. We would expect those districts where the least corporate funding of representatives occurs to align most closely with the constituent interests.

But it gets more complicated. Districts aren’t drawn by formula, but by state representatives. So once again there’s the opportunity to inject high pressure corporate dollars into… there’s the chance for money to spoil representation.

Likewise with journalism, the best journalists in the world cannot really prosper without enough readership/circulation. And so they must go to the large markets, and the large markets attract more advertising…

Large markets are historically where the math works out for reader-supported journalism. But the Internet looks poised to support it, too. It may take some time, and it will take trust-giving by the journalists, convincing people they will get their money’s worth.

We can’t just up and decide to fund a new representative to congress, though. Diverse interests, historically underrepresented, can choose to fund and support particular candidates.

As yet we have not seen a major political upheaval via the Internet in the United States. But that owes itself more to the fashion/culture of American politics than any sort of contentment with the status quo. Barack Obama raised a large amount of funds through the Internet, but he was a mainstream candidate for a major office.

The change that’s being watched for is a swath of congressional elections or state elections to be upset by third party candidates funded via the Internet. And the question is how long after will they be controlled by corporate donations once more.

If the cultural/political change that’s needed is direct support of journalism and candidates, we need a definite understanding of that to convince the majority to begin direct support.