Democracy Theme Park – An Introduction

So you want to change the world? That’s great. So do I. In fact, I’ve been working on trying to change things, from stopping lignite strip mining in Texas to creating urban gardens in Madison, Wisconsin, for the past forty years.

Along the way, I’ve seen campaigns to change this or that swept into what I’ve come to call the Democracy Theme Park. There, we find ourselves going nowhere fast on rides that style themselves as processes for change, but which actually distract us from more direct ways of insuring that government and corporations serve the public. For instance, there is the Regulatory Agency Roller Coaster — a ride where, after years of testimony and hearings, we get a few hay bales added around the fence at the edge of the toxic waste dump. We think we’re getting things done, but in fact, it’s just busy work. We’re merely playing. We’re in bumper cars.
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