has been written in recent years of the general frustration of the
Democracy, by its very name is…well…democratic. While it is a form of government founded upon the concept of rule by the majority, it is also founded upon the principle that any governmental decision will be made with the general welfare of the population in mind. Democracy by its very modus operandi requires compromise, and every law and every decision is an amalgamation of the corporate minds which joined together to make the decision. The problem with democracy is that it occasionally clashes with individual principles. Consider the hypothetical situation of an elected official who has sworn to his constituents, “No new taxes!” (Remember George H. W. Bush?) and then must consider a proposed bill which would take care of a serious problem in the country…but the final version of the bill as drawn up by his associates contains a tax increase. Although it will ease a problem in the country, does he vote to pass the law and in doing so override his principles, or does he stand firm, waving his flag of unbent principle, and let the country suffer the consequences? George Bush chose to compromise in the interests of the country…and lost the next presidential election to Jimmy Carter. In today’s political climate, we have many politicians who have adopted the strategy of “destroying the village in order to save it.” Rather than reach a political compromise on an issue which would help ease the concern of the populace, many lawmakers would rather see the country suffer than renege on an unwise commitment or pledge made in the heat of political campaigning…a commitment or pledge which should have never been made in the first place.
Unfortunately for our country, both major political parties have adopted the “destroy to save” philosophy, and it depends upon who is in power as to what role each party plays. With the current Democratic president, the Republicans have adopted the knee-jerk reflex of “No!” to anything President Biden remotely suggests. Conversely, when a Republican occupies the White House, Democrats dig in their heels and throw out every possible stumbling block to any potential political success for the Republicans…and the country founders. Please understand…I am an independent and not an admirer of either political party. Their agendas are tailored to the interests of their parties and not the United States. Fortunately for America, there are in each party the pragmatic administrators who occasionally put together legislation in the interest of the country.
If you ask any politician in the country about democracy, the instant response is “Democracy is the greatest form of government on the face of the planet.” However, if you ask what the definition of democracy is, the response will be divided into two camps. These two camps represent two versions of the same delusion.
The believers of the first version of democracy can quote the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution from memory. They are for government which is mostly kept at a distance, allowing the individual to soar like eagles to unlimited success with the least amount of restriction. Everyone in this democracy contributes a fair share to the government for basic services such as national defense, but a person’s well-being is a personal responsibility. In this democracy, every person is born healthy and disease free with a marketable talent which allows for the achievement of success. Working hard and not abusing the rights of others, these believers live fruitful lives, leaving legacies of great influence. The difficulty with this form of democracy is that it does not know how to handle those individuals who do not fit into the mold. Forgive me for mentioning the Bible, but even Jesus said, “The poor you have with you always.” In this form of democracy, if one is “poor” it is assumed to be because he/she has not exerted adequate effort to reach the inborn potential which is in every person. To offer alms to the poor is to deter their work initiative.
Along with the poor are the physically challenged be it through injury, birth, or disease. Knowledgeable people have proposed that, to cut our health costs in this nation, committees should determine how expensive extending the life of a disabled person would be, and if the cost is prohibitive, health care should be withheld. I guess it would be the natural thing to do. After all, in nature, there are many examples of infant creatures that are abandoned to die by their mothers for the good of the healthy ones. A person’s health would be a personal responsibility and dependent upon the person’s ability to pay for services. What I find fascinating about this group is that most believers are aggressively pro-life when it comes to the abortion issue, arguing about the sanctity of the unborn child, etc. However, if that child is born with a defect, well, we hope mom has good insurance. If the child is born to poor parents, it’s the parents’ fault…but the child suffers because the government will not offer any helping hand (hurts the budget, you know.)
Lastly, those in this form of democracy have not learned the lessons of human greed. One never has enough money, power, or prestige, and without restrictions or governmental regulations big businesses will stretch ethical boundaries far beyond the breaking point. Competition, which is a concept hallowed in the annals of capitalism, is not restricted to obtaining the largest share of the market but also eliminating as many competitors as possible on the way to the top. Therefore the “pursuit of happiness” mentioned in the declaration may in fact require the deterrence of happiness in someone else. But, hey, that’s competition.
At the other end of the spectrum (other side of the aisle, as it were) is the second group of democratic proponents. Interestingly enough, they, too, are familiar with “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” but at that point the similarities end. Because the citizenry is united under the government’s guidance, a newborn child becomes in effect a ward of the state. Every citizen has the right to the pursuit of happiness, but if another citizen cannot…or chooses not…to make that pursuit, it is the responsibility of all others to “carry those who cannot walk.” An incredible fact of this group, however, is that the government’s concern for you only begins at birth. Should a child be undesired prior to birth, an abortion is acceptable with no consequence; however, if that fetus can somehow survive to birth, the child is offered cradle to grave security.
This group has a great distain for the natural competitiveness of man. It is convinced of the innate greed of corporate America and therefore attempts to control business activities and restrict success, or at least force it to be spread around to more recipients. The result is excessive restrictions causing hesitancy among businesses to invest and take risks. Additionally, should some citizens exceed the “normal” levels of success, they should be taxed more heavily because they have more to spend.
It is in the concept of “liberty” where the two groups most contrast. The second group interprets liberty to mean unbridled freedom. When the constitution mentions freedom of speech, it means you can say anything you wish, no matter how offensive and no matter the consequences. There is no decorum or standard of behavior because there is total freedom. Freedom to choose is interpreted to mean the rights of one may infringe upon the rights of others. Although a majority of the group may have an opinion on a particular matter, one objection can stop the discussion. As an example, polls concerning prayer in schools have always shown a tremendous majority in favor, but due to the efforts of a scattered few, there now is no prayer. It is due to the efforts of this group that we can now enjoy pornography in our homes and obnoxious behavior in our stores and schools. There is another word for unbridled, unlimited freedom…anarchy.
As we enter the election process of 2024, we see the usual polarization of the two major parties into the two camps described above. Most of the candidates offered to the electorate subscribe to one or the other of the two positions, and that is the tragedy of any election because both positions are disastrous for our country. Forgive me for being biblical again, but many times in the scriptures, the word “moderation” pops up when discussing actions or behaviors. It is not just a biblical philosophy but one that has been expounded by many, and it is a philosophy which works in government and politics, also. The essential element to democracy which has become anathema to many in the political spectrum these days is moderation…a “give and take” in the halls of government which allows for solutions to national issues to be reached. In truth, the government must be friendly to business to encourage investment while at the same time monitoring corporate policies and operations. A businessman will borrow money to expand his business, knowing that he will be able to repay the loan with increased sales and profits. At times, a government may also borrow money to invest in people or infrastructure, but it should only be done when there is a good chance of a return on the investment and a repayment of the loan. It must offer help and assistance to those less fortunate while making it clear that an effort must be made to stand on one’s own feet. It must value life from conception to burial, and make it clear there are standards of speech and behavior which respect the privacy of others. The interesting note here is that these positions are reflected by a majority of the citizens of the United States. Is there a candidate who subscribes to these basic principles? If so, he/she will probably be vilified for lacking “principles.” Unfortunately, it seems that both those in power and those who are aspiring to power embrace only the two extreme positions. The prognosis for the future does not bode well. The United States needs a healer, not a divider.