Lately I’m hearing a lot of anti-democratic language being thrown around. I hear it from conservative pundits and leaders, and have even seen it in letters to The World. The underlying assumption is that our government and the democratic system is enshrines has failed, and we need to tear down “the system.”
Come on! Have you seriously forgotten that our democracy, imperfect as it is, is a product of hundreds of years of hard work? Shouting about burning down the system is so easy.
Sure, democracy hasn’t been able to ensure equal opportunity and prosperity. But it’s definitely better that living under an authoritarian regime and having limited freedom. The U.S. fights wars abroad with the stated purpose of bringing democracy to those places. We’ve built our reputation from the beginning as being the best at democracy. Now we’re giving up that leadership in the world as if it’s NBD.
If you’re one of those people gleefully participating in the erosion of our democracy, knock it off. Things like not voting and not being informed are directly harmful to a government by the people. Limiting voting and de-funding education also undermine a democracy, because it thwarts its basic principles. It’s also worth considering if gross income inequality supports a healthy democracy.
Things like laws, elected officials, taxes, access to information, a reasonably regulated media and access to voting are all a part of the solid structure of democracy. These are the tools used to promote equal opportunity for everyone. Our government needs oversight. But the way to do it is to get involved by sitting on boards for public entities, writing letters, asking questions, and holding public officials accountable (or becoming one of those public officials yourself). Not as exciting as nuclear war, but it’s the nitty-gritty of the democratic process that keeps our country powerful and secure so that citizens can focus on their dreams of being entrepreneurs, raising safe and healthy families, pursing higher education ... all these things are brought to the common people by democracy.
Keep the faith!
Martha E. Gregor