Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The founders say otherwise ...

Got this in the email this morning in response to this week's column:
"I have news for you. This country is a democracy. A republic is a subdivision of democracy. The United Kingdom is a monarchy but it is also a democracy. Other democratic countries have some other variations on the theme but we are all democracies. A democracy is simply a form of government in which the citizens have a large role in the decision-making, one way or another. If all else fails, try the dictionary. Unless, of course, you find it useful to make up your own definitions of words."
You could argue that we are a "representative democracy," but that's not REALLY a democracy. Of course, the letter writer surely doesn't care about my opinion. Maybe, he'll believe the founders, though. Since they created this republic ... not democracy.
“Democracy... while it lasts is more bloody than either [aristocracy or monarchy]. Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There is never a democracy that did not commit suicide.” - John Adams
“A democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where fifty-one percent of the people may take away the rights of the other forty-nine.” - Thomas Jefferson
I continue to maintain - a democracy, we are not.

America - Still not a Democracy

It got monotonous, boring and frankly quite annoying.

Yes, I could be talking about almost any Bills' season since my birth, but I'm actually referring to the two-plus hour debate over the Health Care Reform bill Sunday night.

Democrat after Democrat was yielded 45 seconds at a time to say that insurance companies are bad and Americans deserve health care. And Republican after Republican was yielded 45 seconds at a time to say that government is bad and “the majority of Americans” oppose government run or mandated health care.

Fact of the matter is, I agree with both sides of the great debate.

Insurance companies are horrible. It's the only industry where you pay a certain amount of money to have access to something … and then more if you actually use it. If they even let you use it. I am among the vast majority of Americans who have had a basic insurance claim turned down simply because the insurance didn't feel like paying it.

Americans do deserve health care. The rest of the civilized world has figured out how to make health care universally available to everyone. If we truly have the right to “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness,” one could easily imply that we have the right to be healthy.

The Republicans are correct, however, about government. It's a monstrosity. It could screw up a one-float parade. And all the red tape could easily make that parade cost millions of dollars. I don't trust government to do much. Of course, if you're familiar with me at all, I'm not telling you anything you don't know.

And yes, the polls seemed to indicate that the majority of Americans had serious reservations about the concept of universal health care or “Obamacare” as the rightwing seems to like to call it.

In truth, I haven't read the health care bill. Of course, I'd bet the majority of congress hasn't actually read it either. And I don't know whether it's good or bad. I'm not here to preach the values and pitfalls of universal health care.

No, my main frustration today is with the Republican talking point about “the majority of Americans” opposing it.

I've said this before and I'll say it again: We are not a democracy. Never have been. Never will. Congress has enacted thousands upon thousands of pieces of legislation that the majority of Americans opposed. And the reason for them voting lockstep in opposition to our will is almost always the same: It's for our own good.

Frankly, if the majority of Americans knew what was good for them, we wouldn't keep sending the same yahoos to Washington year after year. We wouldn't need those yahoos to create laws mandating seat belt use … or speed limits … or drug laws … or any number of laws that have been enacted for the purposes of protecting us.

And if the majority of Americans actually cared enough, we wouldn't need those yahoos at all. We would just all vote on everything. That, of course, would make us a democracy. Not a republic.

I found it quite ironic listening to members of the Republican party (the world “republic” is right in their name) speak nearly unanimously about what the American people wanted, essentially extolling the virtues of democracy.

I won't go into why democracy is a bad thing. I did that in length in my December 8th column. And I'd prefer not to be monotonous. Or boring. Or quite annoying. For fear that someone will make me run for congress.