DEMOCRACY ON TRIAL

As I mentioned in a previous posting, Winston Churchill once said that democracy is the worst form of government, except for every other that’s ever been tried. Notice the wording. He didn’t say that that democracy was a good form of government, or even an okay form, but it was the worst form. Except all the others man has tried have been even worser. (Is that even a legitimate word?)

Democracy is supposed to enable us to enjoy the ultimate in freedom but it certainly has limitations. Despite what the Bill of Rights says, as supreme court justice Oliver Wendell Holmes once stated, you don’t have the right to yell fire in a crowded theater, if in fact, there is no fire. Neither do you have the right to verbally or in writing, threaten the life of one of your fellow citizens. Try exercising that “right” and the police will quickly be at your doorstep to hand you a one-way ticket to the local clink. You don’t have the right to spread some serious lies about your neighbor without winding up in civil court being sued for everything you own. You don’t have the right to drive a car down your city streets without first getting permission from your local DMV (which is always sheer rapture to deal with.) The point is, there are no rights or freedoms that are absolute. Rationality tells us that whatever rights and freedoms we do enjoy have to be circumscribed by pragmatic considerations.

But still the freedoms of speech and press that do exist in most democratic states are so extensive that some have questioned if they shouldn’t be further circumscribed. For example, Nazi skinheads, the KKK (or what’s left of it) and other racist hate groups have used the freedoms in the Bill of Rights to protect their issuance of vile propaganda. The biggest users of the internet, by far, are pornographers, but second place goes to a multitude of hate and even terrorist groups that spread their hate-filled messages and recruit members in open, plain sight. How interesting that in the computer-age, the main activities on the internet, which was designed primarily for information, educational, and entertainment purposes, has been hijacked by the very worst elements of society under the guise of freedom of speech and press. Perhaps we need some limitations. For example, modern-day Germany has a provision in its constitution barring the advocacy of any kind in either speech or press, of  Nazism, and yet they seem to be functioning quite well as a democracy.

The problem with politics in a  democracy is that it only functions well based on an informed, knowledgable, and interested electorate. Today, however,  in the U.S. we have mainly a dumbed down society that couldn’t care less. As a result we have steadily  been experiencing a highly dysfunctional Congress and Presidency that more and more cannot achieve any meaningful legislation for the American people. The House and Senate cannot agree on anything because they’re controlled by 2 different  parties, and Congressional Republicans do everything in their power to thwart the President because he’s a Democrat. The well that both parties drink from has been so poisoned that  it’s highly unlikely that anything good can come out of the body politic unless one party can gain a super majority, so they can shove their agenda down the other parties throats. This is also partly as result of the filibuster.

The filibuster rule in the Senate allows 41 senators (out of a hundred) to thwart any legislation that is passed by the House and desired by the other 59 Senators and the President. Yet nowhere in our Constitution is the filibuster mentioned. It was something concocted a long time ago and no Senate has been willing to get rid of it. Hence the legislative situation gets worse by the day, as exemplified by the willingness of many legislators to shut the government down because they can’t agree on a budget. (To my knowledge we are the only Government in the world that continually threatens to shut itself down. Even in places like Fiji such a notion would be unthinkable.)

Hence our dysfunctional Government and poisoning of the well has led to a lousy economy, people being out-of-work for more than a year, unimaginable deficits, and a host of other societal ills with no relief in sight. If Romney does in fact become President next January you can bet that Democrats will fight him tooth-and-nail every step of the way, in the same manner that Republicans have fought everything Obama has tried to achieve at every bend in the road. Thus our Government, folks, a role model of dysfunction.

When George Washington became President, and relations were restored with Great Britain, Washington appointed John Adams as the first ambassador to England. Since the Government didn’t do much of anything back then except engage in foreign relations, this was a very big deal. When Adams presented his credentials to King George, the king was supposed to have  said something along the lines of the following:  “While I admit I was the last person to want the American colonies to break away from its mother country, England, let me be the first person to wish the United States a long and prosperous future. However, I have to admit that that I greatly fear for the success of that future without the guiding hand of a monarchy to rule over the land.”

I’m sure most Americans ridiculed that sentiment at the time. However, I’m not sure that King George wasn’t on to something.

 

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One thought on “DEMOCRACY ON TRIAL

  1. I’m too tired at the end of the week to have anything productive to add except for Hear Hear! The chronic dysfunction of our government is becoming unbearable. Maybe it’s time for our government to find a little blue pill to help with the dysfunction.

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