Skip to content

Why Democracy, Anyway?

July 14, 2015

Why Democracy, Anyway?

The answer might be obvious.

Millions of people in my parents’ generation risked their lives, many of them indeed losing their lives or being wounded, American, British, French, and others, and millions devoted their lives on the home front, to defend their national independence, in large part because they believed that that independence meant living in a democracy (and that’s what my parents told me at the time—they knew what they were doing).

I enjoy thinking out loud about matters such as this, that seem to me to be especially meaningful; and furthermore in a novel such as this one it’s important to be clear about the narrator’s political point of view, so that readers can see how foolish it is, if it is foolish.

For one thing, under a dictatorship I wouldn’t be allowed to think out loud about what life would be like if we didn’t have a democracy.   My dictator would close me right down. A term like “net neutrality,” if it ever was thought, would seem like something quaint out of our technological infancy, what would be the point?

So, I think of some of the things that make my life worth living, make for a decent quality of life. Like, freedom of expression. That’s a lot, by itself. But I think of justice. For all. Ah, but that’s an important point: I want these for everybody!

How can I get them and keep them, for myself, my family, my friends, and everybody else, including even the Koch Bros and Scott Walker and some other Republicans, who I think do not want these things for me?

That’s a matter of, among other things, governance. I think about the forms of governance that I know of, past and present. I don’t see one that will get me what I what, for a decent quality of life—except democracy (even though that isn’t perfect; and it may well be, after all, psychopathological).

So what is it about democracy, that gives me a chance for the kind of life that I want for myself and others?

Some major features immediately come to mind.

(1) In comparison to other forms of government that I know off, it is designed, if practiced benevolently, to promote and maximize self-governance, through a system of universal suffrage.

(2) As Supreme Court Justice Ginsberg put it, the “animating principle of our Constitution [is] that the people themselves are the originating source of all the powers of government.” In our democracy, “we the people” are empowered, supremely.

(3) Democracy gives each person the right and the ability to envision what is in her or his best interests, and to exert some power to serve those interests—in cooperation with fellow citizens who are encouraged to do the same (as in “…in order to secure a more perfect union,…”).

(4) Citizens are thus encouraged to inform themselves about their interests, and the conditions, issues, persons, etc., that might affect their interests, positively or negatively.

(5) People who are elected (and paid) by their fellow citizens to serve in government must make their positions clear, to an informed electorate, and can be held accountable, directly, for their actions.

I like that.

But I think that there are persons, especially in business and politics, who want to take our democracy away from a lot of us, and potentially all of us, in order to more effectively serve what they envision as their own best interests, damn them, and bless their tiny souls (lacking exercise, the soul atrophies—under certain kinds of pressure, it is unable to breathe), at our expense.

And they figure to do it without fighting a war about it. They figure to use us against ourselves.

They and their efforts must be rationally identified and peacefully resisted (for instance, by voting).

From → democracy

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: