I have been grappling with a thing called democracy for quite a few days. We were fortunate to spend the Fourth of July weekend with great friends in DC. We watched the fireworks at the Washington Monument from a great perch on the 18th fairway of the Army Navy Country Club. Hundreds of military officers and their families. Doesn’t get much better than that.
The Capitol presented a totally different view from the myriad of expressways in and around the Beltway. Gridlock 24/7.Who are all these people and am I paying for them? Houses and condos selling for millions everywhere suggest the basics for inflation. A strong feeling of insanity and total helplessness pervaded this poor soul. Kind of like, Does this all make sense?
All the while I kept thinking a government of the people, by the people, and for the people and shaking my head. How the hell did we get to this? How can these people relate to one another much less their constituents? Is this the folly of the system or the way we run it?
I was a poli sci major at Georgetown and a little rusty but let’s just say we have a representative form of government. We elect someone to look out for our interests. In the beginning it was pretty simple and their hearts were in the right place despite what some might think today.
We are a federation of states, each with their own needs and providence for their people. As we grew from the 13 originals, things got more complex. North, south, east, west all had their own idea of heaven. We went from a nice little new world to become a juggernaut worldwide.
We were also pretty successful and as a result, a lot of those damn foreigners wanted in on the action. We became a very diverse lot and now have so many interest groups prevail that it is hard to figure out what we and more importantly our representatives believe in. We unite under a banner of left, right or center but truth be told if we were to ask each member of the electorate what they comprehended about policy, you would be shocked at their answers.
Now a country that is 245 years old is pretty young but we are showing signs of neglect. Immigration, education, medical care, infrastructure, trade, and a huge deficit need an adult in the room. That should be easy. Really?
We elect a bunch of people every two years. We have had it good for so long we really don’t like the word austerity. Individuals and corporations have grown so incredibly wealthy they have an outsized influence on what really matters to you and me. Those that are in the minority spend the next two years seeing how that can screw the other side. And lastly we have a wonderful population who don’t want to spend the time to understand all sides. What could possibly go wrong?
This is why we have chaos but is it integral? There is a guy named,Eric Liu who runs a thing called the Citizen University. Let’s not get hung up on philosophies but he pronounced, “fighting is at the heart of democracy.” I really had to think about that. You believe in something and you are convinced you are right. I believe in the opposite and think my thoughts worthy. Is either side going to give up easily?
Let’s not have the current level of political debates but ones like we had in college or high school. Each side presented their case. There is no screaming or yelling but a presentation of facts. In the end the judges cast their vote for who did the best job. Okay that is far too simplistic but think about the process not the participants. Isn’t that what democracy is supposed to be?
Authoritarianism is coming on strong. The number of truly free countries number 83. That is down considerably over the last 15 years. Through the elimination of the freedoms of speech, press, and protest, autocrats they have eradicated any sense of personal autonomy. The simple operation of the US government and others has fallen short in a multitude of areas. In a lot of ways we can’t provide basic services to a large number of our citizens.People are thinking elsewhere. Depressing? Of course.
I had breakfast with an old friend the other day. I tried to verbalize my thoughts in a hope that I could be in any way lucid to my readers. I felt that all three of our departments of government have failed us in some way. Unfortunately I think we as citizens have failed as well. It sounds trite but we are all suspect. We have had in our short history a great game plan but we have become so ambivalent towards its execution.
Bottom line is we have to have adults in the room. We need pragmatists that know how to make tough decisions and if they get fired for it, so be it. These are not seats of power but temporary assignments to bring new ideas and approaches. A friend said we need the experience of the legislative septuagenarians and octogenarians to make things work. To me, today’s mess is all part of their brilliance and ability to govern. How do you think they are doing?
Our election to the offices of president, congress and even the Supreme Court are fraught with vitriol and misinformation. I do not agree with Eric Liu that democracy is fighting. I think it is a discussion between friends with some sort of common purpose. I have had a lot of fights in my day and the vast majority were stupid ones. I am trying to grow up. Are you ?
Ted The Great
Democracy is a belief. You must trust it, study it and practice it.
“Democracy is the worst form of government – except for all the others that have been tried.” Winston Churchill
The most obvious way to make government accountable is by holding fair and honest elections. $14.4 billion was spent on the 2020 presidential and legislative elections. $5.7 billion on the presidents and $8.7billion on Congress.23% of these totals were from small donors. Hmmm.
Most economists agree that a common good must serve to better society, be accessible to society and require some sort of societal sacrifice to have. I had to pore through several Google picked to derive this explanation. We have gone back to Socrates to try to do so. Says something doesn’t it?
Define the problem first before the solution.Most difficult part of the venture.