Even Thomas Jefferson did not kid himself into thinking he had manifested a true democracy. America was born a republic. In fact, the Founding Father and writer of the Declaration of Independence knew that it was not possible to achieve such a feat in his lifetime, and this became the purpose for the very document he wrote.
Limitations are set by the average values of those who rule.
To gain influence and sway over the majority who rule, you cannot reside on the fringe of what the majority rules. In doing so, you automatically lose the respect of those people who are in need your alternative opinion. Thus, he wrote, “all men are created equal,” in hopes this would someday direct the motion of America in the name of freedom.
In spontaneously creating a country, those who had a hand in first establishing the United States of America knew there would be challenges. Freedom from the tyranny of Kings was the sole purpose. How does one assure that this new united entity of persons deemed an independent country would actually support this one goal without replicating the very thing they were trying to escape—a differing form of tyranny manifest?
The Founding Fathers went to great lengths to learn from the democracies of the past. They studied the histories to emerge with those practices and values that might manifest this democracy by taking into consideration the demonstrated democratic successes and failures of the past.
Every democracy must uphold these practices and values if it shall be permitted to stand the test of time—as liberty is always tottering between the consent of the governed and the rule of the governing body.
Freedom of the Press
“Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost. To the sacrifice, of time, labor, fortune, a public servant must count upon adding that of peace of mind and even reputation.”
– Thomas Jefferson
The cornerstone of true democracy is honesty. It is freedom of the press—to express the will of the people. It is the right to disagree and protest—because a democracy relies upon the consent of the governed. Truth in the form of a report makes it difficult to refute hard evidence of the conditions a citizen of the United States is facing. It is not up to the reporter to offer opinions, just state the facts.
Yet even if the facts are stated as such, the true message can be compromised by withholding what is not in the interest of the media. How is the interest of a nation of people to be trumped by the interest of the media? When the media does not belong to the people. When a tyrant owns this media and decides what the people can and cannot see or hear. When the tyrant chooses the stories for you. This keeps citizens from making informed decisions about the true nature of the events going on around them.
Everyone who is granted the right to vote must dutifully wield this privilege. The right to vote is one that cannot be expressed efficiently or effectively unless the citizen who is voting is educated and informed. They must be able to discern the true nature of their actions.
Education is the excellence of all Americans, and focus should be restored to constantly create the highest quality public schools. Political theory, finance, and honest history (not Drunk History but the People’s History) must be learned by all who participate. The causes and effects of voting should be clear to each and every voter. In past American history, the votes of citizens were denied or usurped by the wealthy—the very right to vote was denied to men and women alike. Today, this privilege to vote is made obsolete through the withholding of information. Through the distorting of truth. Through the loss of philosophy, political theory, and financial education that deems one person independent in thought and action outside the rule of tyrant-owned media.
A true, direct democracy cannot exceed thousands of people. This was discovered in the times of the ancient Greek city-states, such as Athens. That is why libertarians see the centralization of government as a conundrum. It cannot be a democracy, because that would be impossible by the laws of human nature.
Can all men and women truly speak when there are so many voices?
This is why we have representatives that serve on the state level. This is why your local government is more important than any president the United States has ever elected. This is why basing issues off of generalized ideological opinions will never work for everyone (as a whole) or anyone (as an individual). All states were never meant to be exactly the same. Each population has varying needs that must be addressed by representatives.
To strengthen democracy, strengthen the ties between local, state, and federal government. Don’t look at the nation as being led by one person, when you are the rightful leader of your local government.
By the People
People, not politicians. There is a reason they are called “civil servants”, and this is because the first representatives didn’t quit their day jobs. They did not convene more than once a year in Philadelphia, and they certainly weren’t being paid a salary that was higher than the average American to do so. Sure they had wealth in their own right (in the beginning of the first Continental Congress), but it was not a gift bestowed on them by the American people for conducting the nation’s affairs.
It was a privilege to represent your fellow citizen when modesty was all the rage.
Checks and Balances
The states were once considered superior to the federal government as a whole. This very fact changed the day President Abraham Lincoln decided to preserve the union. In doing so, the president had solidified the right of the federal government to act above the consent of the individual states that once operated in a “majority rule” fashion. Following the Civil War, American politics continued floating towards a centralized nation under the federal government. The federal government once feared the rights of the states to the point that it was willing to go to war to uphold this idea of preserving the union, and liberty itself. In the beginning, the federal government did not have much power to dictate the lives of citizens.
Governance was left to the states to exclude one document—the Constitution.
This is the only thing everyone could agree upon (outlined in the Bill of Rights), as the original goal of this democratic prototype was to limit the power of the central government. A centralized power would favor itself and gravitate toward tyranny or the limiting of individual liberties. To stop this, and the easy usurpation of power granted by the very fact that it was centralized, the Founding Fathers kept the list of the government’s granted powers over the people rather short. This was not a mistake, but done with estimated intent and purpose.
In setting up the three branches of government—the Executive (President and Cabinet), the Legislative (The House of Representatives and Senate), and the Judicial (the Supreme Court)—checks and balances were also put into place to limit the permissions of each, so that erroneous actions against the people would be “cancelled out” by due process.
The common laws governing the first Americans were not so common. Yet as the years passed, the nation grew around one, single common document that all persons could agree upon. The United States Constitution will never be obsolete, as it is the only thing that makes us all American. The Constitution acts not only as the guiding principles of our nation, but as a means to protect its citizens against themselves and the encroaching authority of the government itself. By taking a closer look at the Constitution, it is more a documenting of the limitations the people of the United States have placed upon the government. Without it, we would not be entitled to the rights it outlines for all of us as citizens.
Most Americans today believe their private happiness is the only form of happiness that can and should exist—that which is within the home and among family and friends. However, a democratic nation must also manifest a common good in the public sector. It must value “public happiness” for the enjoyment of all. Why unite if you aren’t truly united under one common good? Why build a public park, invest in a public transportation system, and give through charity organizations?
Because in a true democracy, everyone must be entitled to the pursuit of happiness.
All people must be able to walk outside and enjoy the presence of another when gathered in a public place. These are not the spaces where we cast off the lowest class of citizens. These are the public spaces of your great nation for you to upkeep and enjoy with fellow citizens. Can you still enjoy a stroll through the park or a casual conversation with another without the freedom of public happiness? Are we all united in inching toward the common good?
By allowing for an untouchable class of people to occupy our public spaces, you yourself are unable to enjoy the very parks in which you created. Democracy is not to be cherished by upper class citizens, but all people who reside in one nation. A society is truly only as strong as its weakest link.
The best interests of future generations should be upheld above all other things. They are much the same as the possibility that rises with the dawn of each new day. The Founding Fathers of The United States of America were adamant about preserving the freedoms of the people from the intrusion of the government on into the future–even at a time when those very freedoms were denied to a large percentage of the population.
Fearing that any centralization of power in a democratic manner would always eventually move us toward collective limitations placed upon peoples’ liberties, Jefferson proposed that each new generation should have its own sort of revolution in manifesting its own set of ideals in an attempt to bring balance back to democracy.
In this way, it is up to the rest of the population to direct each new generation’s efforts in a constructive manner, lest this system that is meant to work for all will cease to resemble a democracy at all. This is done by assuring that they receive the appropriate education in a moral as well as academic sense.
Within the span of just one generation, the very values and fundamental principles that make a nation great can be compromised if we do not take the time to assure the correct judgement of our children or the hope of an “American Dream” for future generations. This is said to be one of the most subtle ways to subvert the very foundation of a democratic society—through the subtle destabilization of its people’s interest through demoralization of a society’s fundamental values over long periods of time.
By limiting liberties in such a small and subtle way over time, you hardly even notice the event of the final product when liberty ceases to exist. In this very same way, the stabilization of a nation takes decades to accomplish. If all these values are present in the United States, then democracy can persist.
Debt is the biggest enemy to democracy. Debt gives your opponent an unfair advantage. It’s something an outside force can hold over you. It works to divide rather than unite you. And this is what is being held over the United States of America, as a whole, and Americans, individually. Many things can be said of Andrew Jackson, but his good fight was against the centralization of banks and the debt of citizens in the form of restricted liberties he saw coming as a final result. By squeezing power from the citizens and country in the form of bank notes owed to one corporation, this corporate entity grows to usurp this centralized power away from the people.
“Gentlemen … the national debt is PAID.”
Debt is a form of slavery. It does the nation and its people no good to be in debt or to place its wealth in the trust of an outside entity.
Furthermore, debt in the form of lack of production must also be avoided in a democracy. By lending your self-sufficiency as a nation to an outside power in the form of a loan, trade, or commerce, you have stripped your citizens of the ability to stand on their own two feet, just so. When jobs go overseas, the people of this nation become dependent and obsolete. They become desperate to find ways to uphold their own liberties when they no longer play a strengthening role in the foundation of society.
Property is the thing that is yours to keep. It is what “frees” all people from the dictation of others. Your property is your own plot of land, your own place in this world. If a people stop believing the land belongs to all (we all are entitled to our own plot of land), then they allow others to exploit it by stripping the land of precious resources and ultimately destroying the most valuable resource—the land itself. It is made valueless. When a nation stops believing the land belongs to all, they allow those who took merely self-interested ownership to pollute the very air they breathe, the food they harvest to eat, the water they drink.
The security of the nation’s property is everyone’s business.
This land is our land—and that is why the last element of democracy is security of this property. The military may be necessary, but it was a militia of common people (and allies) who were originally able to defend this land and nation against tyranny.
“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” – Preamble to the United States Constitution