We can break the cycle of bias that keeps us from pursuing a more perfect union.
Two years ago, Barack Obama electrified the nation with a promise of "change we can believe in." That was the wrong pledge.
Americans need far more than change we can believe in. We need change we can count on.
And the only kind of change we can really count on is change that empowers us to count on ourselves. Yet a program for that kind of change is nowhere to be found on the American political agenda.
The best hope average citizens have to fight for their interests and beliefs is to take back the institutions of representative government. Our most important problem isn't the size of government – it is how to achieve governance that's far more democratic.
But a cycle of bias is preventing us from doing just that. This cycle has three parts.
The first consists of the rules of the political game, beginning with the domineering role personal and corporate wealth play in politics. But the problem goes far deeper than money.
Sedimented institutions worsen the bias by lessening choice, interest, and participation. These include: a two-party duopoly that freezes out other voices; voting on a workday; "gerrymandered" districts that unfairly protect incumbents; an Electoral College that limits campaigns to "battleground" states; and laboriously registering voters one at a time.
Then there is the revolving door from Congress to lobbying firms, further ensuring that policy will suit special interests, leaving out the rest of us.
The second part of the cycle of bias is the way political parties selectively mobilize voters. Politicians use their resources to organize those who have voted before, our already most organized citizens, casting the least organized and protected among us back into the political wilderness.