Democracy 1/6/20

Thoughts by Richard Bleil

This should be an interesting day. Pretty much everybody will be writing about the counting of the Electoral votes by Congress, the congressmen (women are smarter that to try to pull this) who will protest the count, and the circus surrounding it. So, why not?

America isn’t perfect. It never has been, and it never will be. Well, no nation is. But let’s begin by saying that of all of the democratic nations in the world, the US is considered by many to be the least democratic. Of course, this discounts those nations where democracy is in name only. Try voting against Putin in Russia, or Kim Jong-Un in North Korea and see where that gets you. In America, votes are supposed to count, and largely do, but there are a couple of reasons that our brand of democracy is, well, let’s just say less than impressive.

First of all, there are two viable parties in the US. Yes, there are others as well (Green, Independent, and the cartoon character write in). In other nations, there can be dozens of viable parties. The communist party in England might not have much of a chance of gaining the ruling majority, but there are people who vote for them every election. The second reason the US democracy is considered minimally democratic is because the losing parties have no real representation.

See, the Communist party in England might not get a majority vote, but they will still have a voice in their parliament. (At least as I understand it.) See, if the Communist party only gets, say, three percent of the vote, then three percent of the parliament representatives will be communist. The concept is, of course, that they may not get the rule of parliament, but every opinion has value and therefore deserves a voice. In the US, we have Republican representatives, Democratic, and maybe, just maybe, an independent or two although, to be honest, I’m always distraught that even the independents align themselves with one of the main parties. To me, independent should be truly that; independent. I like, for example, Bernie, and would love to see him as president, but to be honest, I’ve always been disappointed that he ran for president under the Democratic ticket. Ross Perot ran as a true independent in 1992 against Bill Clinton and George H. W. Bush. No, he (obviously) didn’t win, but he did very well and, frankly, I think he derailed his own campaign when he dropped out, then declared he was still running after all.

A lot of people think that America was the first democracy, but no, it really wasn’t. In the late eighteenth century there may not have been a lot of democratic nations, but perhaps the first democracy was ancient Greece, specifically Athens, where the democratic process was truly democratic. One voice, one vote meant that when a major decision requiring a vote was required, the entire population of Athens would gather on the side of a hill, where they would hear the issue and the debates. The vote was made (as I understand it) by a show of hands, and the majority carried the vote. Here in the US, the popular vote can still fail the election as it did four years ago. This is an effect of the electoral college where if you carry the states with more electoral college votes, you win the election. I understand that smaller states feel that pure popular vote would be unfair as they would be outvoted, pretty much every time, by the larger coast states, but I still feel like it’s unfair that a minority can carry the presidency. In my humble opinion.

America is not the first in much of anything. Even the Declaration of Independence was modeled after the Magna Carta. But, we are a democracy, and the US Constitution, which is meant to be the law of the land, is the envy of many nations, and the model for several of them. We are also the most stable democracy in the world at the moment, but unfortunately, there are those who want to change that.

Of late, people seem to have forgotten how to respect each other, to accept the results of the popular vote, and to respect the Constitution. I get frustration; four years ago, I was excessively disappointed in an election where the man who won the electoral vote, but not the popular one, took the White House. I was afraid he lacked the maturity, the wisdom, and the grace to represent the nation, and today he is spreading lies in an attempt to usurp the Constitution. That’s frightening enough, but it gets worse. A significant (but minority) portion of the nation is echoing his debunked theories. He tried to use the court system to keep him in office, and judges, many of whom were appointed by Republican presidents, threw out nearly all of his lawsuits as baseless. He tried to strong arm election officials and governors, many of the Republican, all of whom certified their original results even after recounts and investigations. Now he’s trying to strong arm his own vice president and Republican congressmen. But these are not just immature antics. They are actually dangerous in that they undermine our faith in our Constitution. Any congressman who joins his circus and argues the results of the electoral counts without evidence of wrongdoing should be disciplined. If, indeed, there is evidence that there is a problem then it is their responsibility to bring this evidence forward, but to date, the only “evidence” has been debunked, and no matter how often it is repeated, by the president or by Congressmen, it’s still false.

It’s time to move on. It’s time for healing. It’s time to stop corroding the foundation of this nation.

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