Tag Archives: America

Is this the death of democracy in America? (Part 2)

In the previous blog, I wrote about the kind of government America has and the convention that brought about that government showing that the losers in the 2016 general election are traders to that convention by refusing to lose. If that becomes the norm, democracy in America will be dead. I concluded the blog by saying, “The losers are not submitting to their obligation to lose under a constitutional democracy. They are submitting to their feelings”. That brings me to the second ongoing event that I see as destroying democracy in America.

A democracy is predicated on certain freedoms the citizens in the democracy have, by law, given themselves. The most basic of these freedoms is the right to free speech. The citizens themselves have agreed to limit their freedom of speech by making it against the law to falsely accuse someone else or to make false claims about a product. These are objective claims that can cause harm and can be proved or disproved in a court of law.

In America today, the right to free speech has been limited much further, not by a majority of the citizens imposing limits or restraints on their own speech, but by a few judges and public and academic administrators labeling certain speech as “hate speech” spoken only by “haters” and, by declaration, making it against the law in their particular domain. The problem I see for democracy in America is that these types of restrictions on free speech are subjective and predicated on people’s feelings and emotions. Feelings and emotions are subjective and impossible to prove in a court of law. In America, no one has the right to slander or libel another person. But in America, a person used to have the right to call someone a creep if they thought they were a creep. In America, people used to have the right to say “I think you are wrong”, if he thought the person was wrong. Those are subjective statements, expressing an opinion,  but were not against the law. They had to be ignored if offensive to someone’s feelings.

How that has changed in America! So many people are not secure enough in themselves to be able to ignore someone else’s opinion. They get their feelings hurt and they must be protected. Feelings now dictate the laws and when one is governed by feelings the intellect is shut down. Once the intellect is shut down preferences become phobias because definitions, being of the intellect, are ignored. Nowhere in American society is this more obvious than in the area of sexual preference (by definition meaning to like better or best). One person’s sexual preferences has become another person’s phobia (by definition meaning an exaggerated or illogical fear), and only the ones with the “preferences” have a right to speak against the ones with the “phobia”. It is against the law for the ones with the phobias to speak against the ones with the preferences; that would be “hate speech.”

What is ignored, because the intellect is ignored, is the fact that preferences and phobias are based on feelings and are therefore, subjective and are impossible to govern by law. Feelings are governed by what is inside a person. Also ignored is the fact that everyone has preferences. To label those that have the opposite or different  preferences to yours as “phobic” and “haters” is as childish and immature as a 5 year old, and when these subjective emotions dictate the speech laws, the freedom of speech and freedom of our democracy is doomed. Preferences are personal and cannot be legislated.

For example, people on both sides of all social issues have dogs and/or cats in their homes. However, none (or certainly few) have pigs in their homes. Why? Is it because they have piggyphobia? Or that they hate the idea of pigs and, therefore, are haters? Are they discriminating against pigs? No! People have dogs and cats, but not pigs, as a matter of preference. To prefer one and not the other does not make the person bad. Democracy gives the freedom to have personal preferences and to act on those preferences. When someone does not like, or agree with, someone else’s preference, that is freedom. If, by law, they cannot express their dislike, or lack of agreement, i.e. their opinions, that is repression. That is how people in Russia, China and North Korea live.

Rosseau did not get everything right in The Social Contract but he did understand what holds a society together as a body politic. He states:

            In fact, each individual, as a man, may have a particular will contrary, or dissimilar to, the general will which he has as a citizen. His particular interest  may speak to him quite differently from the common interest: his absolute and naturally independent existence may make him look upon what he owes to the common cause as a gratuitous contribution, the loss of which will do less harm to others than the payment of it is burdensome to himself; and, regarding…the State…, he may wish to enjoy the rights of citizenship without being ready to fulfil the duties of a subject. The continuance of such an injustice could not but prove the undoing of the body politic.

That is what I see going on in the aftermath of the 2016 general election. The losers have determined that the cost of losing to them is greater than the harm they are doing by preventing the winners from governing. Are they right? Time will be the judge and America will be the ultimate loser.

Rosseau states on page 1 of The Social Contract: “Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains.” That about sums up the natural human condition. Natural man is born with a body of flesh that is never satisfied and an ego that is never subdued. Therefore, man is in chains to both. Those chains are destroying democracy in America. The ego of the losers will not permit them to acknowledge the reality that they lost. The flesh’s appetite for sexual pleasure will not permit those with unnatural appetites to say “no”. Not being willing to submit one’s flesh and one’s ego to something greater than oneself is itself a bondage to flesh and ego. It keeps them thinking that it would harm them more than it would harm society if they broke those chains. Therein lies the deception of their bondage and the danger to democracy in America.

Is this the death of democracy in America? (Part 1)

This past presidential election was the twelfth that I have voted in and because I had to be 21 years old to vote, I was able to observe two more in my teen years. The buildup to the 2016 election was different from previous ones in many respects. But what has happened after the election has never occurred in American history and has brought about what I fear will be the death of democracy in America.

Two ongoing events are destroying democracy in America. The first one is the fact that the losers in the election are refusing to lose. Heretofore, losers in presidential elections submitted to the outcome, whether they thought it was just or not, and the government got on with the business of governing. Regardless of who you voted for, the simple fact is the losers in the 2016 election are refusing to let the winners govern. They have the mindset that, even though losing, they can win if they can keep the winners from governing. This is as anti-democratic as one can get and I am afraid that it is setting the tone for future elections.

I lived for a number of years in a West African country that was populated by two main tribes. The tribes had their own parts of the country that they populated and controlled (much like the blue states and red states in America). That country has been trying to have a democracy since it became independent in the 1960s. The country’s president always comes from one of the two main tribes. The problem is the tribe that loses refuses to be governed by someone from the rival tribe. The losers will destroy infrastructure in the territory controlled by the winner and even resort to killing ministers of the opposing government if they venture into certain parts of their territory. It is tribal warfare clothed in democracy. The net result is that the winners seek to benefit only those of their own tribe and the nation as a whole suffers and has not prospered but digressed since becoming independent. I see this same pattern evolving in American politics. It has become tribal warfare.

The 16th century philosopher, Jean-Jacques Rosseau wrote in The Social Contract, “The law of majority voting is itself something established by convention, and presupposes unanimity, on one occasion at least.” The convention Rosseau is talking about is what he calls the “first convention” by which a group of people decides what kind of government it will submit to. The unanimity he talks about is the fact that every citizen in the group, by remaining in the group or by becoming a part of the group, is in effect casting his or her vote for the kind of government the majority selected in the beginning. In America’s case the founding fathers adopted a Federal Republic to be governed by a Constitution. Even if all did not agree that was the best form of government for the new nation, all agreed to submit to it because the majority ruled. Since its founding, every citizen of America has agreed to submit to that form of government and to uphold the Constitution that guides it. Those born in America acquiesce to submitting to that form of government (what Rosseau calls the “first convention”) by not leaving the country. The immigrants that become citizens of America must swear an oath that they renounce all allegiance to any other government and that they will support and defend the constitution of the United States of America. By doing that, they accept the first convention that defines the group of people called Americans. There is unanimity in that we have all agreed to be governed alike. Should anyone refuse to be governed accordingly, they would be a traitor and/or an anarchist.

Back to what is going in 2017. Some people, I am sure, believe that the personalities involved gave them the right or permission to refuse to submit to the form of government they have previously agreed to live under, by staying here if born here, or by oath as an immigrant. Personality may govern who one wants to be friends with, but has nothing to do with the Constitution or the authority of the President of the United States. Whether we like the person elected or not in no way negates the obligation to be governed by the winner of that office.

If any presidential elections should have elicited the rebellious response that we see to the 2016 election, two come to mind. In 1960, John F. Kennedy was the first Catholic elected President, much to the chagrin of many Protestants. If religion was going to bring death to the American democracy that was the time; but it did not. In 2008, Barack Obama was the first black to be elected President, much to the chagrin of many whites. If race was going to bring death to the American democracy that was the time; but it did not. In both cases and in all cases previous to 2016, the losers submitted to the winner and went about doing what they thought needed to be done to win the next election. That is how democracy works. Any departure from that will set a pattern for losing that will bring death to democracy.

For the losers to think they can win by keeping the winner from governing is politically anarchistic and personally selfish and childish. The losers are not submitting to their obligation to lose under a constitution democracy. They are submitting to their feelings.

That brings me to the second ongoing event that I see as potentially destroying democracy in America. It will be the subject of my next post.