Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The democracy we deserve....


I'm growing tired...no actually I'm beyond that. I'm fed up! I am absolutely fed up with hearing how cynical the American public has become. How we Americans no longer have good choices when we go into the voting booth every 2 years. I'm tired of we Americans, the legacy of Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, Paine, Lincoln and TR, painting the government as 'them' or 'they'. As if the poor innocent American public bears no responsibility for the tripe that passes for a list of candidates we now have before us. I have news for you the government is a reflection of the people in this country.

We get the democracy we deserve!

It is said that Ben Franklin wrote more than 200 years ago: "They that can give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." Whether or not that is a paraphrase or an actual comment is not important but the lesson is clear. Yet today while the President signs a Bill essentially revoking the Habeas Corpus, a part of common law for almost a thousand years, the American public barely averted their collective eyes from "Big Brother" or "American Idol" or "Dancing with the Stars" long enough to even shrug. The reason is most Americans have NO idea or conception of what habeas corpus is and why it's important. Whether or not this action is right or wrong is not altogether clear, this is not my point. the point is there should have been a public dialog before we allowed a US President to revoke a civil right!

Most Americans would be hard pressed to state what the first 10 amendments to the Constitution are collectively named and why they are important. Thomas Jefferson said that in order for democracy to survive requires and educated public. Yet most Americans probably couldn't tell you why Thomas Jefferson is significant to American History.

We Get the Democracy we DESERVE!!!

There are millions of Americans with no form of health care. We have a looming Social Security crisis. The price of oil is in the neighborhood of $100 a barrel AND we have ample evidence that the climate is changing due to human industrial activities. Yet the bulk of our elected politicians feel that banning 'gay marriage', essentially legislating discrimination into the Constitution, is the most important issue of our time! SERIOUSLY?!

We Get the Democracy we DESERVE!!!

When I was a boy I was lucky enough to have parents that were involved in the Boy Scouting program and deemed it important enough to encourage me to advance in rank. Three of the required Merit Badges for the highest rank in Scouting were "Citizenship in the Community", "Citizenship in the Nation" and "Citizenship in the World". Why do we not teach these concepts to our children in our schools?

We Get the Democracy we DESERVE!!!

Today in America we are lambasted with ads for "get rich quick" schemes pawned by billionaires, for 'magic' foot pads that remove toxins from the body while you sleep, for weight loss miracle drugs that require no exercise, for homeopathic remedies that will cure headaches, toothaches or CANCER! We have prime time TV shows that extol the 'skills' of psychics and another on a network supposedly devoted to Science, that follows the exploits of ghost hunters. Why are we not teaching our children the virtues of reason and critical thinking?

We Get the Democracy we DESERVE!!!

The choices we have in the voting booth this coming November are a reflection of US as a people. In 1920, H.L. Mencken wrote:
"As democracy is perfected, the office represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. We move toward a lofty ideal. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their hearts desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron."
Consider that statement and take long hard look at the policies of the individual who has occupied the Oval Office for the past seven years!

We have GOTTEN the democracy we deserve!

If we don't like the choices before us then each and everyone of us bears responsibility for changing those choices. How can we do this?

Have we Americans become so cynical, so facile, such mindless consumers of the latest gadget, the latest pop-song, the latest fads, that we have forgotten what it means and what it takes to be an American? I heard something in a movie that rings true: "America is advanced citizenship! You've gotta want it bad, because it's gonna put up a fight!"

We, as a population have to take the responsibility to be sure we are educated enough to demand better of our candidates. That means picking up a book before we head to the 'john'. A real book, not a fashion magazine or a celebrity gossip rag outlining the latest doings of Paris Hilton. Try a history book, a book of philosophy or science. The powers that be in this country are doing VERY WELL capitalizing on the cynicism and or ignorance of the electorate. They don't want an educated populace because that would spell their doom!

Whether you are a Christian, a Jew, a Muslim, a Wiccan, an agnostic or an atheist. Whether you are a Republican, a Democrat, a Libertarian, a Socialist or whatever. We are ALL of us citizens of this country. American citizenship has benefits AND great responsibility. How we behave now, whom we elect now, at this moment in history will echo down the corridors of the future. What account will we give to our children? What will we say we did when we were presented with the challenges of the new century?

Our responsibility is to become the educated electorate envisioned by Jefferson only then will we get the democracy we deserve!

R.

1 comment:

hoverfrog said...

The pedantic part of me wants to point out that you don't have a democracy, you have a republic. Oh look, it won.

Pah, a rose by any other name....Your sentiments are good though and your argument persuasive. I believe that it should apply to every nation though. You get the government that you deserve and so do I.