5 Major Issues in the Fascinating Experiment we call Democracy
“Democracy must be built through open societies that share information. When there is information, there is enlightenment. When there is debate, there are solutions. When there is no sharing of power, no rule of law, no accountability, there is abuse, corruption, subjugation, and indignation.”- Atifete Jahjaga.
Our Democracy started with dissension and dialogue and continues that way today. The founding fathers came together with many different ideas of what a government should look like and after much dialogue and dissension created the Constitution of The United States of America and the Bill of rights. Since these documents were written there have been twenty-seven amendments to the constitution. These principles have put forth the vision of the fascinating experiment we call democracy.
Today we still have a great deal of dissension about what democracy means and what the founding fathers meant in many areas. I am going to highlight the five that bear on current topics that we are dealing with. We are not done, and I expect will not finish solving all of these issues during my lifetime. You may feel that there are other issues that are more important that should be pointed out, if so, please go to my website theholeu.com and send me a comment.
The right to vote is one of the fundamental pillars of our democracy. Yet in this past year, many states have passed laws to make it more difficult for some of their citizens to vote. Those who seek to limit the right to vote, seem to be doing so out of a desire to remain in power by redrawing voting lines to ensure their party’s candidate has a higher chance of getting elected.
They seem to misunderstand the purpose of being an elected official. It is to represent the good of all the people in their district rather than just those that elected you. The same can clearly be said about the Senate of the United States. They have lost sight of the purpose of lawmakers. Their purpose should be to make laws that benefit all people not just one party’s interests. Unfortunately, we lost the great moderates that were able to pull senators together from both parties to support the interests of the entire nation.
Justice was supposed to be above politics and blind to race, money, and gender. Unfortunately, throughout our history, this has not been the case. We are constantly being reminded of the failures as prisoners are released after serving years in prison after being falsely accused and convicted. In the past decade, we have seen the justice system become more politicized than ever before. This is a continuous tragedy that we must hold before us to make improvements in how the system works and to put a less transparent blindfold on Justice. We all are entitled to real justice, not a justice system skewed to the rich and powerful.
Equality is an idea that philosophers have struggled with throughout time. We are certainly not equal in the sense that our genes are exactly the same from one to the other. But this is not what our founding fathers meant. We are all supposed to be treated equally in the eyes of the government and its systems.
I have lived in many parts of this country and know that we don’t currently treat people equally in any sense of the word. From day one we have had rich and poor, colored and white, English speakers, and other languages. We are varied in many ways. For example, I was stopped at a traffic checkpoint in my city one night around 10 pm and asked for my license, registration, and insurance papers. I was having trouble finding them and because I was an old white guy, the police officer let me go, even though they were pulling others over tomato sure they got the documents. I was relieved but not treated the same as the others.
We have a long way to go to get to the point of equality that we are striving for.
We are guaranteed certain freedoms under the first amendment to the constitution. Freedom of speech, religion, the press, and the right to assemble. Each of these rights has been stressed during the past decade. Some have misused, misquoted the intent of these rights, and tried to use them to harass others. We continue to see regions targeted. We see children and people bullied because they are or believe differently.
Nowhere in this amendment does it say we can bully and persecute others because they are different. We have the freedom to be different and to be left alone. We must each learn to respect and protect this right for ourselves and others.
We no longer have political dialogue and compromise; we only have entrenched elected officials voting along party lines. They have lost sight of their purpose. It is up to us to remind them that we elected them to do what is best for all the people not to do what will get them reelected.
What should you do?
Speak up. When you one these pillars being attacked or missed speak up.
Write and talk to your elected officials. You don’t have to always agree with them, but you do have to tell them why you don’t agree.
Be heard. When inequities happen speak up and take action. It is your country! You are a part of this grand experiment. Don’t let it fail.
“If we desire a society of peace, then we cannot achieve such a society through violence. If we desire a society without discrimination, then we must not discriminate against anyone in the process of building this society. If we desire a society that is democratic, then democracy must become a means as well as an end.”Bayard Rustin.