What has happened to America, the shining light of democracy? Is this year’s election really the model that we’re are asking our soldiers to fight for, to die defending?
Every two years, Americans vote in an election that commentators describe as the worst election ever. Shouting and slogans. Charges and counter charges. Well, this year really is the worst, and the most dangerous to the republic.
The candidates haven’t just thrown mud pies at each other and the other party; this time, they have also trashed the electorate and the electoral process. Watching the news, my informal survey shows that stupidity has exceeded lying, pointless slogans have been exceeded by promises based upon arithmetic that wouldn’t pass third grade, and name-calling and labeling have become a new art form.
Even in this Great Recession, we’re managed to spend an astonishing 4 billion dollars on a midterm election! Why should companies invest in equipment or workers, when they can directly and secretly invest in favorable treatment from elected officials? And now anyone with access to a screen can post their own opinion on anything, usually with no wisdom, thoughtfulness, or civility required, just an opinion. We’ve all become experts.
I’m purposely writing this before the election, because I don’t want to be influenced by the specific outcomes. I already know that America lost. I’m gathering my strength for the coming shouting match during the lame duck session of Congress, followed by two years of gridlock that will rival Washington’s traffic jams. Nothing will move.
But, there’s good news, too. The same technology that has brought this cacophony of sound can also be used to enhance democracy. Many groups are already working to put labels aside, to foster civil dialogue on complex issues, and to engage people in strengthening and even reinventing our democratic processes.
Work has already started on changing the primary and nominating processes to involve common citizens, not just the extreme activists and the two political parties. Efforts are also already underway to change the process of redistricting, so that voters will be able to influence their choice of politicians, instead of the politicians picking their voters. All that is needed is YOUR PARTICIPATION. We get what we elect, and that means that it’s long past the time to open up the processes by which we select our leaders. Rest now, for we’ve got lots of work to do in the next two years.