What is democracy? What does it mean to you? I believe Democracy is a process. I believe Democracy is a participatory system. I believe we are letting our Democracy go to waste. And I believe it is time to change the way we look at our government.
And when I say “our” government, I do mean that literally, because go walk around where you live. Find your Borough or City Hall, I’ll bet it is a fine building. Well, guess what? You own it.
Now go tour your public schools. You own that too. Parks. They are yours. Municipal water, sewer, all yours. State forests, National Parks. They are yours. Ours. This land, it is our land.
That is democracy.
Now, let’s bring this to your personal level. Your home. Some of us rent, some of us own. Now imagine you don’t bother to take care of that home. You just sit back and allow others, complete strangers, to come in and make decisions about your home. They get to paint, decorate and furnish it, however they want. Because you could not be bothered. Maybe you thought the paint brush was broken. Maybe you didn’t know when the paint store was open. Maybe you didn’t have a ride to the store. Or maybe you were denied access. Whatever the reason, these folks just come in and paint with whatever is cheapest, however they want, plastering your walls with their personal opinion, adding a bit of their dogma here, some ideology there, painting your walls as they want them to be, not caring or asking for your input. That is what happens when you don’t vote.
Quite simply, this is what is happening with our democracy. You aren’t showing up. So others are making the decisions that impact your life much more than the color of your kitchen.
Pick an issue. Any issue. And I bet we can source it to one or all of the above. Let’s start with my favorite three issues, what I call my 3 E’s: Education, Environment & Equality.
Education. The foundation of everything. What happens when you have people running school districts who think education should be privatized? Who think unions are “bad”? People who want to stop funding libraries but allow millions to be spent on athletic fields, what does that do? Is this reflecting your values? Why have we allowed testing to replace teaching?
Who did that? You did. Every one of you who didn’t vote in every election. Including school board, council, state. This is what they did when you couldn’t be bothered to show up and vote.
Next, environment. Do you want to see more green spaces, less subsidies for fossil fuels? Do you want to see more renewable energy? How about we combine this with the first “E”, education? How about we begin to convert our schools to renewable, save taxpayers millions, maybe billions, balance budgets, reduce deficits, protect taxpayers, create jobs, and maybe, just maybe, we create revenue for our public schools. And we do it while cutting carbon footprints, reducing emissions and reducing the need for extraction.
Why isn’t that happening? You didn’t care enough to show up. Because while you were ignoring election day, others who actually do have an
agenda were busy making sure it was their guy that got elected. You know, the one who doesn’t give a crap about what you think.
And finally, there is equality. Because this is one of the greatest of the founding principles of our country. All “men” are created equal. Regardless of race, sex, age or creed, we are endowed with inalienable rights. And that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Well, let’s just say for a minute that your personal pursuit of happiness happens to lead you to a same sex marriage. Why isn’t that “legal”?
When did we decide to allow bigotry to be legislated in this country? I guess it was the day we allowed bigots to get elected.
We have to remember what democracy is, and what democracy isn’t. Democracy is ours if we can keep it. Democracy requires participation.
Democracy doesn’t care who votes. It isn’t some magical mystical process that is going to manifest your destiny while you sit home.
If you want to change the world, we can do that. But only if you show up.