Stan Crader

Author & Lecturer on Writing About Rural America

Death of Democracy

On any given day I’ll hear the following two statements.  “There’s no difference between a Democrat or a Republican congressman—that’s why I don’t vote.” And, “Never before has our government been so divided and the two parties so far apart in their views.” Which is it?

Democrats essentially believe that the government is the solution and that bigger government is better. And when Democrats are in control, the government expands and regulates more and more.

Republicans claim that smaller government is better. But during the few years when the Republicans controlled both houses of the 104th congress, government expansion continued.

So, to some extent, both parties like control, and once control is obtained, it’s difficult to relinquish. In that sense, both parties are similar, which is not exactly alike. There are differences. What are they?

First let’s look to the voter. Are all voters alike?

There’s no shortage of information about our government. Just about anything you need to know is a few keystrokes away. And people of both political parties regularly parrot their favorite political pundit.

Winston Churchill is quoted as having said, “The best argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter.” Ole Churchill was on to something. Here are a few points to consider.

First, most Americans don’t vote. A 50% voter turnout is considered extraordinary. For the government to be by the people, the people must vote. If most don’t vote, what does any difference among politicians matter?

Second, most American’s don’t take voting seriously. Too many vote simply because they feel a civic duty. They spend the last few moments before entering the voting booth on the cell phone asking someone how they should vote. It’s difficult to criticize who is elected when considering how they’re elected.

Third, most can tell you more about sports than politics. The next time you’re in the company of someone ranting about our government, ask them the following questions.

1)      What are the three branches of our federal government?

2)      What is the function of each branch?

3)      Who are the two Senators from your state and to which party do they belong?

4)      Who is your US Representative and to which party do they belong?

5)      Why did the Pilgrims come to America?

It’s an illuminating and frightening exercise and will reveal the real cause of the disease that may result in the death of democracy in America. Those who can answer and discuss the five questions are the solution and can well tell the difference between parties.

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