11.10.2014

Is Democracy a lost cause?

      
      November 4, 2014 a date labeled as “Mid-Term” Elections, another chance for the people to speak through the power of voting, the one time in each person’s life where their worth monetarily or status is equal to everyone, a 200 year old expression of democracy in action.  With each election comes a renewed vigor for pointing out the mistakes made in the hopes that it will sway the mind of the American voter and the chance to attack your fellow person on all levels, including mudslinging, labels, nasty rhetoric and arguments that have disintegrated friendships and perhaps professional acquaintances, in the name of electing someone, notice the candidates were not mentioned in that sentence as it has been years since platforms were the basis for election and mostly it has been negative ad campaigns that win elections.  When George Washington became our “first” president, a majority of persons showed up on his doorstep and asked him to run for the office, not because they thought his plan was the best one, but because they believed his popularity would land him in office and that it might be beneficial to those who support those ideas and the idea of a new nations birth.  Since that time, many faces have appeared in not just the presidential elections, but in the representatives and senators who are elected to hold those seats all elected with the hope that they are capable of doing the job of what the people want, but what the people really want isn’t really all that clear as it has become clouded with the negative rhetoric and ads that cause people to argue about the lesser of two evils, so let’s explore democracy at its core.


INTRODUCTION
            What is democracy, what does it mean?  In order to answer this, maybe we should simplify the core.  Democracy is the chance for citizens to place persons in government, to represent or lead the people, more importantly; it is the chance for people to hold those who hold those offices accountable for their actions.  This also means that the people are the authority as to what or how the country should be governed and when they are unhappy after a period of time, they can choose to rid that person of their elected seat and replace them, not a bad freedom to have, aside from the freedom of speech that allows us to openly criticize how well or not that the person does while in that office.  In order for the elections to be free and fair, a neutrality must govern those elections where they treat all parties equally and help to insure that there isn’t any underhandedness or impeachment of the authority through intimidation or allowing the candidates to stand over your shoulder to inspect your vote, a degree of secrecy and privacy afforded to the people, by the way that also includes making sure those electronic voting machines are also functioning correctly, hackers are everywhere and the right to vote is ultra important, so always pay attention when voting. 

            In order for democracy to work, a large number of organizations, volunteers and appointed officials must work together to insure that the voice and desires of the people is heard, in other words, host an election.  This means also that the private citizen must at some point become public and express their views by becoming active within the ranks of their own views and embracing the thoughts and desires of the candidate, so democracy then becomes power and those who get elected enjoy the benefits of that power.  Voting is a civic duty that is written into the laws of the land not just in the Federal branch, but the State levels as well.  To vote, means to be informed of the issues at hand and based upon what is known, make a decision about who one thinks is capable of executing those ideas, in theory this works well, in reality, we don’t always get what we want, or rather, there are some citizens who will gripe because what they want isn’t what the majority wants and in some cases, this causes backlash, which includes person’s labeling each other, rather than the guise of discussion or the idea of compromise. 

            A civil society interacting with politics almost always causes sparks to fly, feelings to get hurt and multiple levels of aggravation because some lose sight of the issues at hand or of what a civic duty is, in short, farmers, business owners, doctors, teachers and everyday citizens must participate in understanding the issues that affect each of us and it means that participation should be voluntary and not one where one feels forced into believing or aligning themselves with a particular party or ideals and then, rally and extend the thoughts in a peaceful, respectful manner, however, in many recent years a new term has been added, negative campaigning. 

            In a democratic society, everyone, regardless of party affiliation, has rights, the right to vote, the right to speak about their choices, the right to have your own outlooks and know that no one can take away those insights or thoughts and the right to not be intimidated while making those choices.  This should not be the opportunity to belittle someone or chastise them for the way they think; although that is the normal path most take.  This also means we should enjoy the right to associate with the minority or majority free from oppressive actions.  Democracy is a set of rules governed by laws that allow people to decide who is in and who is out.  In order for this to work effectively, people must keep in mind the entire set of rights they are guaranteed and reject anything that goes against it, including violence and yes, riots have erupted in some cases over the right to cast a vote a certain way, all be it usually in other countries when we see it happening, the US is no less subject to threats of violence when the citizen base makes decisions, a fact that no one can obscure. 

            This means setting aside that your own views and thoughts are the “right ones”, it means taking the time to listen, discuss and reflect upon what matters, and not who is more correct, in other words, compromise is the core to democracy, it will mean giving up something to gain something of equal importance, it does not mean that we get to undermine someone because they don’t agree, it just doesn’t represent what democracy embellishes, informed decisions and a compromise for the better over a long period of time, remember politics isn’t law and law isn’t politics, it is a combination of all things in between.  In a democratic society, the people will debate issues, they will desire change, and they will show up to vote when it matters to them, the normal pattern exhibited by the US is low voter turnout in mid-term elections and a strong showing during presidential races and the net result, continued griping or an overwhelming happiness about who the victorious candidate was, then it’s back to politics, which include foreign policies, budget direction, taxes, defense spending and a host of other items, all because 200 or so years ago, the idea to allow people the power to vote someone in office became a reality.

            Democracy also represents a voice within Foreign Policy in our own US, simply because it envelopes human rights and literally is a form of representation when it comes to how the people feel about circumstances that affect our nation, not just trade deficits.  Statistically, democratically established nations are more likely to:  expand open markets, promote peaceful relationships between neighboring countries, promote economic development, protect its citizens, fight crime, avoid humanitarian crisis and uphold its workers rights.  It is with these same principles that the United States continues to work with other nations so that those citizens can also have a say in who leads those countries, the idea is catching on, in roughly the 1970’s there were about 30 democratic countries, today, around 117 countries participate in some form of democracy and in each of them, a battle of epic proportions had to take place, to free the enslaved and to allow their voices to be heard and once established, the people are more inclined to seek avenues of prosperity once un-afforded to them, democracy is powerful because it represents the many voices from around the nation that embraces it.

CONCEPTS OF DEMOCRACY
            There are various types of democracies, electorate, liberal and others that are all focused on which is the best way to govern a mass of persons through the best avenues possible, or basically, what can they do that the majority of the public will agree to with minimal impact on those feeling ignored or repressed in thought.  First, there must be recognition of worth that can be applied equally to all persons, including dignities or simply, respect among individuals that live within that society and adjusting when needed to include the needs of the subordinate to promote a common good.  For example, the United States experienced a rise in teen age girls having children and worked to reduce that rate with opportunities and education, applying it to all and not disparaging between rich or poor, the birth rate went down, democracy in action, a common goal, promoting a good overall outcome.  Next, there must be the respect of equality of everyone, noting that this equality does not mean equal status quo, equal wealth or equal conditions, what it does mean is that there is the promise of equal opportunity and that every person, man or woman can do what any other man or woman can do, through avenues of education or skill, period. 

               In the matter of the justice system, it also means that there is no difference between a man or woman, each have the same afforded rights to defense in a court of law and that if a woman or a man commits murder and gets convicted, they go to prison based on the laws, not on what gender they are.  The next one is in my opinion, the hardest part to swallow, in a democracy the majority believes they are right more than wrong and that they can make most political decisions better than most minority groups.  To be clear, the majority rules apply because the voices of the people say so and most of them are correct in their views as a whole (this is why voting is so very important) while the smaller groups have valid concerns, just not enough to sway the majority that way.  This does not mean the minority voice is any less important, it means that through a path provided and legally they can influence enough of the majority to become the majority, for example, during this past series of senatorial seats and congressional candidates, the majority of the country voted republican, while the minority became democrats, prior to this, the democratic party had majority control.

            All of the aforementioned items count as useless unless there is a key that can bind them together, the next concept is compromise.  Compromise is the ability to adjust, to hammer out differences, so that when all things are considered, items can be passed into law or even when negotiating a contract, that are as fair as possible to everyone, not just the majority or minority.  Consider this, if everyone is of equal importance and we as this society must respect each other’s rights to live in a free nation, free to speak, free to be armed, free to elect our leaders, but we all have varying opinions, nothing will be accomplished unless we compromise.  In recent years within this country, we have observed partisanship, political alignments, separatists, tea parties and the like all to try and get their voices heard, none of which focused on compromise.  We have watched the last eight years steadily decline in moral among our fellow citizens in the way we hold each other accountable, facing impossible odds, trying to find opportunities to slander rather than compromise into a fair deal, even our own congress through several presidents has been labeled “do nothing” “worst in history” wherein there has been a lack of compromise. 

            Finally, democracy insists that each individual have as many freedoms as possible, this means the absence of anarchy, where there is no rule or less restrictions upon the public, because anarchy is so chaotic, it usually leads to dictatorship, or ruling of iron handed death or heinous actions.  Those freedoms we all enjoy include the right to drive on a road minimized of drunken drivers or those distracted from texting, the right to purchase alcohol, the right to own a gun with a permit stating you can, the right to have as many children as you want or can afford, the right to worship in a church of your choice or not and the right to be loved no matter what gender it happens to be, the right to be angry and express that anger, the right to a peaceful protest and so many more unseen or unspoken rights, including freedom of the press (wink).  Consider this readers as we close up our minds book, democracy means different things to different persons, the rights reflected within that democracy can be deemed the same, having values higher to some than others but in each of the categories, in each of the examples, one thing has remained steadfast, the voice of the people, whether majority or minority, is what matters most and no democracy can succeed without it.

FURTHER READING

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