The Voices of Democracy

Now that Election Day is behind us, Americans have spoken.  But what have they said?  Based on the percentage of those who didn’t vote, many Americans said they didn’t have anything to say, or maybe they communicated that they didn’t care.

Some might not have said anything because they made the common mistake of thinking their vote wouldn’t make a difference.  They overlooked the clear lessons of history that demonstrate elections were often decided by very narrow margins, on many occasions.  They needed to take to heart that their vote will make a difference!

While we aren’t sure what may have kept people from voting, at least we have an objective record of what the voters did say.  Now it’s up to the pundits to interpret the implications of America’s votes.  Is America satisfied with status quo, or do they want change?  If they want change, will their elected officials will able to bring it about?  Finally, if they bring about change, will it be in the appropriate direction?

Most Americans give lip service that democracy is the greatest form of government in the world.  Accordingly, we do everything within our power to bring democracy’s benefits to countries who have been ruled harshly by some other form of government.  While these efforts are well-intentioned, they often overlook the reality that a democracy is only effective when the citizens of that country are sufficiently committed to secure and maintain a society of order and fairness.

Many are seeing that some countries are filled with people who have little awareness of, and little commitment to what it takes for a democracy to work effectively in their context.  Sadly, I wonder if America may soon become one of those countries!  Even many Americans foolishly assume that we are entitled to receive the benefits of a democracy yet have no responsibilities for it.  Some have reversed JFK’s timeless observation on what makes a democracy effective.  They would encourage: “Ask not what you can do for your country, ask what your country can do for you.”

Our national anthem says we are, “the land of the free and the home of the brave.”  Some have pointed out that we are “the land of the free because of the brave.”  And while “the brave” generally refers to the men and women who make up our military forces, I wonder if any democracy can endure without a significant percentage of “brave” citizens.  Are you brave enough to speak out against evil, even fight against evil, for the sake of freedom?

It has been pointed out that, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”  No wonder Katherine Bates noted that America is beautiful “for heroes proved in liberating strife, who more than self their country loved, and mercy more than life.  America!  America! May God thy gold refine, till all success be nobleness, and every gain divine.”