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Eleanor Roosevelt once said: “Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.”

So why are we focused on two men fighting for a presidency as if the idea of controlling our future were like some kind of football game?

We tend to see it this way because mistakes were made in the way we designed our constitutions and political system, and because of cognitive dissonances we humans are prone to, like confusing symbols with the real things those symbols refer to. Instead of seeing “We the people” as an inherently dynamic and intergenerational concept and instead of empowering future generations, past leadership vested the power in themselves. And as the United States population ballooned from 3 million to well over 300 million, people remained focused on distracting icons like the presidency, or one person who is supposed to “represent” all of us, rather than focusing on empowering one another. Representative democracy replaced real democracy where each person has real control over outcomes.

  • For example, we focus on Biden or Trump as a symbol for what we want in terms of climate policy, when in reality, the underlying population of the country – the thing driving the climate crisis and the ultimate source of political authority – continues to grow and become less equal, so that the average person has less and less of an impact on national policy. We are decoyed by these two men, who in the end will simply enforce through violence their own views on a populace they do not and cannot represent, while the fundamental state of democracy and freedom degrades. This is iconarchy, not democracy.

In fact, our leaders, working with business interests, intentionally accelerated the process of centralizing their power by encouraging population growth and failing to require systems that would equitably develop each person to help co-lead true democracies, ensuring chaos, and with it our reliance upon strong leaders instead of one another. Today, many want to exacerbate this problem in the name of creating economic growth. They exploit an archaic legal system that does not clearly protect a right to nature, but defends completely irresponsible procreation because of the population growth it creates. This is emblematic of our history of trading self-determination and freedom for chaos, greed and consumption, and the exploitation of future generations.

To people who care about democracy, or a system that allows all people to control the rules under which they live, this is offensive. We have a right to an effective role – not diluted by hundreds of millions of people – in the political systems that impact our lives. Is it time to tear down the icons and to stop the constant political swing from left to right? Can we disempower the symbolic, meaning the leadership at the top of both the public and private sectors, and then empower the real — the people themselves — from the bottom up?

The best way to do that, and the most effective way to directly address the crises we now face, irrespective of our “representatives,” is to correct these mistakes and build our systems around the idea of cooperative self-determination. Instead of thinking of democracies as constituted in the past, we must instead think about having kids as a way to constitute the democracies we want and deserve in the future. We can do so by ensuring every child’s right to a fair start in life, which is the first and overriding human right, and using that right to decentralize and limit human power. If we truly believe in government for and by the people, that is the only way to achieve it.

At Having Kids, we are trying to move systems in that direction by decentralizing the power at the top of what Nobel Laureate Steven Chu called a population pyramid and investing that power in future generations.

Ready to make real change? Here are several actions you can take to join the fight to give the people control of their own futures.

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