Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Beyond Democracy

When it comes right down to it, democracy isn’t fair. It allows the majority to dictate to the minority and creates an atmosphere whereby the most fervent advocates can get their way.

The United States of America was created by a small group of male property owners who felt a democracy should consist only of male property owners. Over the ensuing years, others such as non-property owners, women, freed slaves and so forth were also allowed to vote and hold public office.

In a democracy, the majority rules. This is why it was necessary to add so many legal conditions, such as the Bill of Rights, to the paperwork.

Since a specific religion could become the majority and insist that their principles be the norm, government and religion were separated by legal decree.

Because a specific ethnic group could become the majority and dictate to minorities, rules were set forth guaranteeing equal rights and protection under the law.

In other words, a democracy requires a set of rules protecting everyone from the tyranny of the majority.

But in a democracy the majority often dictates unjustly regardless of how many rules are set up to prevent it.

Take zoning laws for example. Some are reasonable while others are downright ridiculous. I’ve lived in communities where the neat-nicks rule the roost. You must have all building plans approved by a committee. Nonconforming styles and color schemes are prohibited. If your lawn exceeds a certain length the township will mow it and send you a bill. If you have no lawn, you will be required to install one. And so forth.

The people who care deeply about the appearance of their neighbor’s property are the ones who will fight the hardest to gain communal control. Those who have a live-and-let-live attitude just won’t get involved and consequently wind up at the mercy of those who insist on always having their way.

The same is true on a national level. Those who insist on having things their way are the ones who strive for political power. Those who simply want to be left alone are caught in the crosshairs of those who want to control everyone else.

Those who want more and more government to solve their perceived problems become politically active and continually push for more and more government. And in a democracy, the majority is constantly attacking the rights of others.

If the majority goes to bed early at night, they will impose a curfew on those who don’t. If the majority finds certain art or literature offensive, they will attempt to censure it out of existence. If the majority doesn’t partake in a particular mood-altering substance, they will not allow others to enjoy it. If the majority doesn’t gamble, they will not allow others to gamble. If the majority believes a specific weekday to be sacred, they will not allow certain businesses to operate on that day. And so on and so on.

In a perfect world, we would have little need for massive amounts of government. But as long as selfish, willful, inconsiderate, unethical people exist, there is a need for a set of rules and a means to enforce them. And since there seems to be a need for government, a democracy is probably a good place to start.

However, a democracy has flaws. Being required to conform to the majority in a pure democracy can be a very repressive existence. One person's right is another person's wrong. One person's morality is another person's immorality. One person's way of life is another person's nightmare. We don't all think alike.

More rules and regulations are not the answer. More government simply means less individual freedom and a greater potential for tyrannical abuse perpetrated by those in control.

Our present two-party system of government is a perfect example of abuse perpetrated by those in power. The two major parties have made it nearly impossible for any third party to compete with them, thus ensuring their continued dominance. Plus, with a two-party system one party is always in the majority, thereby having the ability to control the system without proper checks and balances.

Beyond democracy lies common sense, decency and a tolerance of others. The only fair system is one that allows maximum freedom as long as you are not infringing on someone else’s freedom.

But freedom is never free. There will always be those who would deny you your freedom.

Slick-politicians want their share of your freedom to increase your dependence on them.

Do-gooders want their share of your freedom to enforce their version of charity.

Lazy-bums want their share of your freedom to feed their gluttony for entitlements.

Fussy-nitpickers want their share of your freedom to gratify their need for conformity.

Rule-makers want their share of your freedom to fulfill their desire for control.

Greed-heads want their share of your freedom to quench their lust for wealth.

Fearful-warmongers want their share of your freedom to combat their fear of others.

Religious-zealots want their share of your freedom to appease their need for self-righteousness.

The battle for freedom is a never-ending struggle and a vote for more government is a vote for less freedom.

These days, the national debt is approaching $12 trillion with no end to the fiscal abomination in sight. The present federal solution to the deep hole we are in is to keep digging. A child born in the USA today will automatically be some $50,000 in debt, thanks to our collective greed and stupidity, and will be subservient to the federal government for the remainder of their life.

It is beyond my comprehension why anyone would vote to enslave themselves.

Quote for the Day -- "Those who seek absolute power, even though they seek it to do what they regard as good, are simply demanding the right to enforce their own version of heaven on earth. Those who seek it must be suspect and must be opposed." Barry Goldwater

Bret Burquest is a former award-winning columnist and author of four novels. He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a dog named Buddy Lee and a desire for a heaven on earth where everyone minds their own business. His blogs appear on several websites, including www.myspace.com/bret1111

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