The Wisdom of the People - the Populist Rationale

The citizens of the United States have excellent judgment. They have shown it consistently over time. When that judgment shifts briefly allowing a failed policy, it is a result of the vilest forms of propaganda by a small clique of liars. (Image: PS-OV-ART)
The people were right about the invasion of Iraq
We know that the plan to invade Iraq began just days after Inauguration Day, 2001. The opportunity to launch the most disastrous and costly military effort in our history came on 9/11. The destruction of the World Trade Center towers and attack on the Pentagon became the pretext for war. The manipulators launched their fraudulent storyline in earnest with confidence that they would get their war.
But in December of 2002, the public wasn't buying it. The people didn't have access to all of the information. They knew one thing for sure -- the invasion was a very bad idea unless Iraq posed an imminent threat to the country with weapons of mass destruction.  An in depth Los Angeles Times public opinion poll asked this question:

The Bipartisan Citizen Beat Down and the End of Democracy

Michael Collins

Both political parties are manifestly hostile to citizens. This hostility reduces electoral participation to just over 50% of the voting age population for presidential elections and less than 40% for off-year congressional elections. The absence of 50% to 60% of those eligible to vote creates minority rule and threatens the legitimacy of any ruling party. Truly, every election ratifies the rejection of both parties.

Class Warfare

There is a neo-populist movement afoot in the US right how. No one is sure exactly what to call it. Analogies with the original Populist party break down over issues of tariffs and xenophobia. The later "Progressive" movement, which is credited with creating the first round of government regulatory agencies, doesn't fit well either. It didn't have the broad-based working class foundation that is meant when one talks about populism.

These days when critics accuse liberals of engaging in "class warfare" they mean the the working classes are looking to rein in the excesses of the super wealthy. Since this group is tiny, the appeal to defending the rights of Paris Hilton doesn't work well, so they try to include the top 20% as well.

Measuring Democracy

There are a number of new books out which try to show that more democratic countries have a higher level of economic equality and also a higher level sustained economic growth. There is some question as to whether equality leads to growth or vice versa, but the issue I'd like to discuss is how to measure democracy.

There are many studies and organizations which aim to rate states on an authoritarian - democracy scale, but many also add in civil liberties as well. I have something slightly different in mind.

A dictionary definition.

Democracy: government by the people; a form of government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised directly by them or by their elected agents under a free electoral system.

The problem is that such textbook definitions don't take into account the many ways democracy can be imperfect. I'm aiming at a more realistic measure.