After the 2016 election, I found I needed a platform to articulate my thoughts. I knew I wanted a place for brief, insightful, thoughtful analysis and opinion on current events, social issues, politics and life. The last year has caused me deep reflection on my core political beliefs and ideals. If you where to ask me; “What do you think democracy is’? This would be my response.
To me, democracy is more than a political system that gives voice to the people, it’s a deeply held belief that man is good and can aspire to be even better. We are, of course, inclined to want a strong figure to save us, requiring little or less effort on our part. However, we must resist the allure of the authoritarian, regardless of how efficient the trains run. We must be willing to engage in the messy business of understanding one another, trusting one another and working together in both conflict and harmony to bring about the most good. No one is coming to save us from ourselves. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.
To me, democracy is more than freedom. Freedom alone is not enough, freedom not coupled with temperance and a deep desire for self-mastery leads to hedonism and tyranny. Freedom is not the end, it’s a means to an end. The end is moral excellence.
This yearning for moral excellence is often in conflict with our base natures–which are often exploited by those who wish to obtain and wield power, often leaving the masses the victim to those who govern them. Authoritarians exploit our fears and insecurities by preaching a dialectic that we are only safe from “them” as we focus on preserving “us.” However, the more we exclude others the more we isolate ourselves. We believe we are trading safety for freedom, and in the end, we get neither.
Authoritarianism is the consequence of tribalism–the antithesis of democracy. Tribalism insists on conformity and isolation. Democracy grows through trust and inclusion. Tribalism exploits conflict as us vs. them. Democracy understands there is only us and that conflict is a means to an end. Democracy embraces conflict. Tribalism only celebrates victory. Tribalism demands orthodoxy democracy questions authority. Tribalism attacks, democracy compromises. Tribalism embraces the authoritarian, Democracy shuns them.
Democracy demands participation, voting is not the end of our duty it’s the ticket to admission. We have not only a right but a responsibility to participate. That, to me, means more than snarky memes, re-shares of over simplified partisan tripe and complex ideas presented in 280 characters or less. It means paying the price to be informed, building relationships, networks and comminutes that embrace and respect the majority rules and protects the minority rights. A humility that acknowledges we all rise or fall together.
I still believe our best days are ahead of us. I am confidant a careful reflection of our core values will help us see we are more united than divided. It will also motivate us to do more, be more and expect more from ourselves and our fellow travelers on the road to “our more perfect union.”