Our Graying Democracy

I was at a dinner the other night and was sitting next to a man much older than me. We were having a very interesting discussion about a number of topics including art, children, politics, and government. This man made a very interesting comment to me that I’ve been thinking about ever since.

He said that our democracy is too old and if we don’t modernize it soon, we are in big trouble.

I’ve always felt that our founding fathers built the perfect democracy and as a result America has prospered beyond any other country.

Not so, according to this man. They built the perfect democracy for life at the end of the 18th century. But it doesn’t work at the beginning of the 21st century.

His assertion is that the foundation of our democracy is built around relationships like rural vs urban and educated vs illiterate that don’t exist in our society anymore. He thinks the two party system, the electoral college, and the presidency itself are outdated instutions that our holding our country back instead of moving us forward.

His solution? The modern democracies that have been established in the past half century. He thinks Israel and Japan’s democracies are the best examples of what we need to create. He thinks a parliamentary system that allows for multiple parties is a much better representative government. He thinks that parliamentary governments get created and abolished more quickly and can respond much better to the dynamic nature of our globalizing world.

It’s an interesting thought. At first blush, I liked it. I helps me understand what frustrates me so much about our current political environment where the religious right and the “head in the sand” left seem to control so much of our political dialog.

Will it happen? Not anytime soon. It will take a crisis of epic proportions to change our political system and I am not eager to go through that.