Look what they’ve done to my song Ma ♪♫♪
Polls show that most Americans believe in democracy; that most Americans believe that America is a democracy. That even those who aren’t sure what democracy is think that they would recognize it if they saw it. That’s close enough; as close as one’s going to get these days. We think we are a democracy, therefore we are. FDR said that our constitution was a work in progress; so our democracy. A democracy, if we can keep it.
We have been warned that our democracy is fragile, that preserving our democracy demands constant vigilance, …; warnings that our democracy has enemies. And, lest we forget, democracy is complex; needs to be taught to be understood.
The American Enterprise Institute and The Heritage Foundation, the ex-Confederate States, Gingrich’s War on America, Mitch McConnell, Gerrymandering, former States of The Confederacy Republicans, The John Roberts’ Court, Tea Party Republicans, The NRA, Dictators around the world, Governors like Georgia’s Kemp, Mitch McConnell, Donald Trump, …; democracy has lots of enemies.
The American Enterprise Institute and The Heritage Foundation are quick to remind us that America is a republic; not a democracy. Rich coming from the two of them as they claim themselves to be something called Federalists; that’s the before the Constitution, not in the Constitution, gone since the early 19th century, Federalists; not the long after the Constitution, 1982, organization of right-wing conservatives and libertarians Federalist Society. Or, maybe, … it is that they wish to be associated the both? The two are quite different, you know.
Without democracy, a small minority like the Federalist Society might tyrannize the nation by securing the appointment of right-wing, libertarian judges to the benches of the Federal Courts. They already have. The Federalist Society, shown as having a membership of around 70k, now controls the US Supreme Court by way of having 5 of the Court’s Justices as members or former members by way of a non-representative US Senate led by Mitch McConnell from the small, backward, non-representative state of Kentucky. The Federalist Society isn’t a political party; has never stood for election to anything. We really needn’t bother asking.
After the Civil War, after Reconstruction, around 1877, white supremacists in the deep South lead by former Confederate Officers, forcibly threw duly elected blacks out of office, took away black men’s right to vote, and installed whitely elected officeholders in their stead. For another 88 years, whites in the southern states held their black citizens in economic servitude as share-croppers on the very land where their parents and grandparents had been slaves. If a black share-cropper dared think of voting, they and their family were kicked off the land, out of home. Tossed democracy in the trash bin for another nigh on 90 years, they did. Without democracy, white supremacists tyrannized blacks in the former Confederate States for a hundred years after emancipation; given the chance, still do.
By 1992, Republicans had decided that no Democrat belonged in the White House ever again. After Clinton was reelected to a second term, led by such paragons of virtue as Newt Gingrich, Bob Barr, Tom Delay, Dick Armey, Henry Hyde, Bob Livingston, Billy Tauzin, … and after four years of Ken Starr investigating everything he could imagine; the Republican-majority House of Representative voted to impeach President William Clinton, a Democrat and a plebeian of low birth. Without democracy, one political party might decide that no person from the opposition party could legitimately be President. Banana Republics are not democracies; thus their appeal to certain types.
In 2008, and for eight years thereafter, Mitch McConnell never forgave the Nation for electing Barack Obama, Democrat to be President; did everything he could to impede the implementation of Obama’s agenda. When Tina asks, “What’s Democracy got to do with it?” Mitch says, “Nothing.” Without democracy, a venal Senator from a small, backward, state might decide that the most important thing that he could do was to block the agenda of a popularly elected President, even when doing so damaged the Nation. A lack of constant vigilance.
In 2011, the Republican Majority North Carolina Legislature gerrymandered the Democratic majority state in a manner so as to ensure continued Republican Control. Seems god doesn’t want democracy in North Carolina. With gerrymandering, without democracy, corrupt politicians representing powerful interest could control the makeup of the State’s legislative and Judicial branches in perpetuity. More enemies.
Immediately following the soon to be infamous 2013 Shelby vs. Holder Supreme Court decision, State Legislatures of former states of the Confederacy like Texas, North Carolina, Alabama and Arizona (Arizona was a Confederate Territory), plus other red states like North Dakota, Ohio, and Wisconsin enacted laws restricting or otherwise making it more difficult for some people to vote. The Decision made it easier for politicians in red states around the nation to suppress or negate the votes of those whom they felt were likely to vote against them. Justices unclear on the concept; needing to be better educated, more Learned.
We read about a Dictator of an African nation who stole everything that wasn’t bolted down, including all the money for the nation’s schools; didn’t even leave any for polio vaccinations. The current political battle in Venezuela is about who gets to steal the last, anything that hasn’t already been stolen, of the country’s wealth. Dictatorships are monopolies on power. Democracies are of the people, by the people.
In April of 2020, Governor Kemp, GA, the states’ former Secretary of State who in 2018 had rigged the upcoming Georgia gubernatorial election in a way meant to assist his own gubernatorial campaign, put business interests ahead of citizen safety during a deadly pandemic. Not unusual given that we often hear Republican politicians publicly declare that Capitalism is more important than Democracy. Democracy is far more important than either Capitalism or Free Marketers. In a democracy, the people, not capital, get to decide by way of free and fair elections. Neither Governor Kemp nor Capitalism are friends of democracy.
Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell do not think that your right to vote is nearly as important as their right to remain in office. Neither of them gives a fig about Democracy. Donald and Mitch should be afraid, be very afraid; in a democracy, no one is above the law.
To all those who claim power as their entitle, those who would seek to monopolize power; democracy is an impediment, a competitor, that they feel they need to destroy.
While it is true that the word democracy is not in the constitution as ratified; a few amendments: 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 17, 19, 22, 23, 24, and 26 have happened since. These probably represent the American Democracy that they don’t like. Democracy along the lines of: A form of government that is answerable to its citizens, citizens who may change their representatives through free and fair elections. A form of government that ensures all of its citizens the right to vote. A form of government that accords its citizens liberty and equality. A form of government that protects the human rights of its citizens. A form of government wherein all are subject to the rule of law and the law applies equally to all. Most Americans believe in democracy. Most Americans believe that America is a democracy. America’s democracy is known by the friends it keeps.
Democracies are fairly complex in concept; requiring conceptual thinking. Conceptual thinking requires an informed, educated electorate. In a democracy we don’t get our druthers; democracy is all about compromise. Elected representatives solve the problem of how to effect governance in a democracy. Free and fair elections accommodate change; eliminate the need for revolution. Free and fair elections bring forth collective intelligence; if there is such a thing. A democracy is flexible, can adapt to changing times. In order for democracy to work, elected representatives must be held accountable. Democracy is more important than any economic model, more important than the Constitution itself. A democracy could lawfully change the Constitution. In theory, a democracy could decide not to be a democracy; self immolate. This should never be an option, is not even a proper role for the Constitution. Our democracy is a work in progress.
America’s current decline concurrent China’s rise pits democracy against totalitarianism; puts our democracy further at risk. Unless we can right our ship, chances are that we will see more and more Americans willing to exchange what democracy remains for totalitarianism in hopes of better chances for personal prosperity, for making a decent living. Democracy depends on the practice of good democracy and good governance.
Our democracy is under assault from crooked politicians, inept Judges and Justices, Capitalists, and Free Marketers. Greed amongst the citizenry is another enemy of democracy worthy of our vigilance.
As a footnote; democracy can be perverted:
From the 1990s until 2019, the NRA was one of the most powerful political entities in America. Leveraging its never more than 5.5 million membership, for nearly 30 years the NRA could and did, at both state and federal levels, determine most Republican and some Democratic Primary outcomes; thus determining who got to run for and go on to serve in state legislatures, the US Congress. For US Senate seats, this meant that the NRA played a major role in determining who got on the Federal Courts, including the US Supreme Court. As a consequence of this power, bad gun laws were passed by Congress and upheld by the US Supreme Court while good gun laws died aborning or were found to be unconstitutional. A most undemocratic exercise of tyranny by a very small minority.
The Tea Party, an ultra-conservative, libertarian movement within the Republican Party, founded in 2009, funded by David H. Koch, representing Koch and less than 5% of the population; wreaked havoc on national politics for nigh on to 10 years by controlling enough votes to determine primary outcomes and Congressional votes. The Tea Party, as far removed from democracy as possible; was an exercise of tyranny by a minority.
Sometimes minority leverage can abet democracy by according minorities the political power to protect their legitimate interests. The NRA and the Tea Party are instances where such power was used to impose a minority’s will on the majority; to work against democracy. Unfortunately, the Constitution avoids the issue of tyranny by a minority; only concerns itself with tyranny by a majority. As FDR said; a work in progress.