Guest Column: The mixed bag of democracy
March 24, 2014
I can't disagree with one word Kevin MacMillan said in his opinion column, "Here's why I exercise my right not to vote," in the March 19, 2014 edition.
But I would like to add the all important demarcative "bottom line" to the mix. There is no doubt the system is infuriating on endless accounts, but the idea, or the "Great Experiment," is the bottom line — every other "political" issue resides above this line.
The more I participate in this game o' life, the more I can see clearly that most everything is a mixed bag. Checks and balances — good protein. The dysfunction of parties, policies and (definitely) politicians — marbled fat.
If your household consists of more than one human, than you've most likely experienced a divergence of opinion. It's fantastic that Congress can get anything done — how does this big machine keep rollin' along?
If there is no democracy, then our Republic (as we've grown so fond of) ceases to exist.
The volley between the underlying two-party system that we all enjoy (?) still has the ball being batted to and fro — that's a good thing, for without it, there would-be no game. It doesn't take much imagination to understand that without democracy, the void would quickly be filled with a fascist oligarchy.
Too alarmist? Too dramatic or harsh? According to a large percentage of the planetary population, we here in the USA take the "sweet spot" of liberty for granted. So much so that apathy has infiltrated itself as a chronic presence in our schools, work environments and the way we govern ourselves. What a difference 238 years can make!
To gain the "right" to form an independent republic, many people rejected their homelands and fought for an ideal. Idealism takes-on many perspective forms. Boycotts work well if there is outcry by a legitimately upset public. Voting with the preverbal pocket book in a free market still has an effect. However, free markets and governments don't really have a whole lot in common.
To think that changing an ill (in government) by escaping or bypassing it strengthens the cause of what you'd like to see changed only reinforces the lack of change. There may be gobs of revolution happening between one's own ears, but that's where the "movement" halts.
Even if only a handful of people actually exercised their right to vote, there would still be an outcome — it would just be a much-smaller sample. The silent protest to not to vote virtually goes unnoticed. Governments count on that kind of behavior; anarchy is so messy!
The term "morality" has taken on more of a religious context, as if one who is not religious cannot be moral — I hear this a lot. But morality, by definition, is simply a set of right and good conduct standards. When I think of the way in which our independence was won, I think about the people and their principles. We assume these "principles" as Americans because of the timing of history and some trail-blazing folks who were driven by their notions.
We have the right to do or not do many things in this country (hopefully within the confines of the law), but it's our own personal creed of ethics that either moves us forward or stops us in our tracks. Choice is a beautiful thing.
From my viewpoint, this is a subject centered more on morality than politics. A "vote" — any vote — is a vote for democracy and ensuring the republic's longevity.
Suzanne Carlen is a Truckee resident.
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