Hnn | HNN Articles

Dissing Democracy: No More “We the People”

 

By Brian Magee

America likes to think itself as a “beacon of democracy,” a phrase that came into prominence following the country’s entry into World War II. Our victory helped solidify the self-impression of superiority, tying it to having a society powered by “We the People,” something our recently defeated enemies lacked. The powerful phrase gained enough traction that it is still being used and employed to describe countries as diverse as Kyrgyzstan, Ghana, and Senegal.

For the United States, the drive to spread democracy can be traced at least as far back as the 19th century’s concept of Manifest Destiny which was used to try and justify the country's growth across the hemisphere, grabbing land while killing and displacing people with little, if any, remorse. Even the United Nations tells the world that “democracy is a universally recognized ideal” and is one of its “core values.” In the wake of World War II, the UN adopted The Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 which stated “the will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government.” Driven by the example and the power of the United States, democratic forms of government naturally grew in popularity and have continued to be seen by some as so virtuous that we will use it as a justification for war.

Whether or not someone thinks a government by “We the People” should be implanted by violent means, for any observer with a limited bias the version of democracy now practiced in the United States can no longer be seen as a beacon for anyone to follow. The way “we the people” behave toward the democratic process is disgraceful, offering little respect for what we loudly and violently claim should be the world's ideal.

A look at the recent election season provides enough evidence for discussion.

Perhaps the best example is voter suppression efforts. We have people throwing out voter registrations and dumping ballots among all kinds practices when it comes to voting fraud. This doesn't include typical voter intimidation tactics. The problem is so bad that each major party sends monitors to polling places, with some groups even inviting representatives from the UN to watch. Citizen and non-profit groups have formed to try and stop elections from being stolen.

We also have a political family buying into the commercialized voting process itself, leading to the ironic observation that they could be taking a tip from communist dictator Joseph Stalin: "The people who vote decide nothing. The people who count the votes decide everything."

In a country that is supposed to be a beacon of democracy to the world, we actually have people seriously voting for Charles Darwin and Jesus.

Voter turnout is usually between 50-60 percent in presidential election years, dropping to the 30-40 percent range for elections in between.

It is a given that politicians lie, but the level of deception has become so bad that Politifact.com has become the Snopes of the political world, having won a Pulitzer Prize for its work.

It should be no surprise that Wikileaks revelations resulted in leaders from around the world criticizing us for not practicing what we preach when it comes to “democratic ideals,” and the NAACP has asked the UN Human Rights Commission to investigate our “beacon of democracy.”

Teachers are bringing blatant political propaganda to school classrooms. Businesses are threatening their employees if they don't vote the way owners demand they should. Pastors openly violate their church’s IRS tax-exempt status by endorsing candidates from the pulpit.

Political conventions and debates are nothing more than highly scripted TV shows where an uninformed electorate is fed carefully researched words and phrases meant to tap emotions, not intellect.

Given our behavior, it is hard to imagine a plausible case being made that America actually respects a democratic “we the people” system we claim to cherish. If we did, an all-out effort would be made to truly educate as many people as possible and get everyone to the polls, encouraging them to vote for whatever candidates they choose to support. What we are doing now is an embarrassment and is clearly disrespectful of the very idea of a government by “We the People.”

Brian Magee is the communications associate for the American Humanist Association.

blog comments powered by Disqus

American Humanist Association

To some, Humanism and Hedonism are one in the same. Is that really all there is...

8 hours ago

American Humanist Association

This week's Humanist Hour Podcast features Bob Ready and Sarah Henry as they tal...

10 hours ago

American Humanist Association

Update to the football prayer controversy happening at a Gainesville, GA High Sc...

13 hours ago

American Humanist Association

Fred Edwords reports from this year's Colorado Secular Conference! Get TheHuman...

1 days ago

American Humanist Association

Two weeks ago, AHA's Maggie Ardiente and Roy Speckhardt traveled to Oxford, Engl...

1 days ago

American Humanist Association

The United Coalition of Reason is a national non-profit organization that helps...

1 days ago

American Humanist Association

Is it really that "tragic and bizarre" to remove bibles from hotels rooms in ord...

1 days ago

American Humanist Association

Throwing some separation of church and state history at you!

2 days ago

American Humanist Association

Why does the media usually portray atheists as pretentious, white men? Time to c...

2 days ago

American Humanist Association

The Fields Medal has been awarded to up to four mathematicians every four years...

2 days ago

American Humanist Association

The nature of the backlash to our recent legal case concerning pray in public sc...

2 days ago

American Humanist Association

Happy Friday!

5 days ago

American Humanist Association

Religious differences within the family unit can be difficult. How do you feel a...

5 days ago

American Humanist Association

Here is an update to our on-going Carroll County, Maryland case involving prayer...

5 days ago

American Humanist Association

Back to school time! Let's take a look at the most and least religious colleges...

5 days ago

American Humanist Association

Anyone need a laugh? I sure do! Warning: Language!

6 days ago

American Humanist Association

Should someone's religious belief allow them to do whatever they want? No! Get...

6 days ago

American Humanist Association

In November, 2014, a new film is coming out about the life of Stephen Hawking. T...

6 days ago

American Humanist Association

AHA legal director David Niose on football and Christian politics in Georgia.

7 days ago

American Humanist Association

Yesterday, the beautiful and talented Lauren Bacall passed away. Just one of th...

7 days ago

American Humanist Association

When the AHA, or similar organizations, take legal action in efforts to keep the...

7 days ago

American Humanist Association

In this week's Humanist Hour Podcast Dr. Robert M. Price tells us 10 Things Ever...

8 days ago

American Humanist Association

Fox News chimes in on a letter recently sent form the AHA to a Georgia high scho...

8 days ago

American Humanist Association

Meet the newest staff member of the United Coalition of Reason, Jason Heap! Y...

8 days ago

American Humanist Association

Fan of Martin Scorsese's 1988 film, The Last Temptation of Christ? It looks like...

8 days ago