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Why does the arrival of democracy mean that your neighbors become a threat to you?

Under the dictator your neighbor was a co-victim.  With the arrival of democracy your neighbor can now vote for a government that can inconvenience or hurt you. 

It can even threaten you.  Citizens need a code-of-conduct to keep this real threat from making democracy impractical.

What is the code of conduct?

To respect the opinion of your neighbor.  Even though they may be your political opponents and trust that if they get into power it will be ok.  The code is difficult to live up to.

Why is that important?

Once the public becomes too divided cooperation is impossible.  On a practicable level, how well would your work run if trust and cooperation ceased? Once government effectiveness is eliminated then revolution is inevitable.

Democracy has been taking over the world since we started ours. Almost all countries are democracies now. How is that weak?

Democratic expansion has mostly been since the end of World War II.  We are the most successful democracy since the American Revolution.  However America had some unique advantages and fortunate timing.  In general most democracies have been notoriously unstable (think France and italy) and almost all failures have been as a result of internal political divisions. Most failures are very bad experiences for many citizens.

Not ours, it has lasted 250 years with out a problem…..right?

It failed once in 1860 and 600,000 young men died.  There have been other times of division when the republic was threatened, like the 1930’s, but our greatest periods of unity and progress have been when we had an external enemy to unite us.  When our country was founded the Native Americans served as the perfect ‘external enemy’.   The fall of the Soviet Union marks the point where our current internal political divisions began to deepen.

Democracies thrive under threat and waffle in peace.  We outlasted the greatest world power-Britain- at our birth.   Between the War of 1812 and the Civil War we floundered with internal divinations.  After the Civil War, we had the Indians to fight.  We passed the homestead-act, based on Native American land, provided real economic opportunity healing any division based on income until 1900.  Between then and WWI, class struggle appeared.  It appeared again in the 1930’s it was healed with WWII.  We destroyed 75% of the world’s manufacturing capabilities in WWII so prosperity followed.  That prosperity that is now gone.

Did democracy ever have a chance in either Iraq or Afghanistan?

No, and our inability to see this in advance shows how little we, as a society, recognize the problem that internal political divisions pose to any democracy.  Victory could be achieved in either Iraq or Afghanistan by installing authoritarian governments, and the people who live there will be thankful we did.

Haven’t people always attacked the other side? Is it really that much worse now?

As president, Jefferson was attacked for having an African American lover but he might expect this in his office. What is different now is how we negatively refer to average citizens that disagree with us.  All sides routinely refer to their opponents as unqualified either through lack of intelligence, education, or moral fiber.

If our political opponents are truly unqualified, then democracy doesn’t make sense.

Many democracies failed in the 1930’s including Germany, Italy and Japan.  The current economic decline, if it lasts for an extended period of time will deepen all divides. 

If we throw all the politicians out and start over will that help?

The problem exists in the hearts of the American people so any true fix must begin there.

Why don’t politicians recognize the problem?

They do, both President Bush and President Obama ran on a make-Washington-more-civil platform and both made it worse.  Politicians hate it, but they have to represent that which is in the hearts of the American People, and that is contempt for the other side.  Neither they nor anyone in the media is in a position to tell the American People that the problem lies in them.

What if I really don’t have any respect for the other side and really do believe that they are unqualified?

Start thinking about what kind of authoritarian government you would prefer.

I still want to stand up for what I believe, how do I do that?


What if that isn’t enough for meWhat if that isn’t enough for me?

Then join individual campaigns and work on GOTV (Get out the vote).  Knock on doors to inspire like minded people to register and vote.  This turns one vote into 20.  More people voting will help give legitimacy to elections which is an important goal.

What if that isn’t enough for me?

Then you are taking your own opinion too seriously.  You must be uncertain when ever a considerable minority disagrees.

How can I be uncertain when by political views are based on my religious faith which is certain?

Uncertainty comes in when our values are applied to public policy.  The democratic system we all support will fail if overburdened, and avoiding this must be the primary goal.  If legislating morality divides the secular from the faithful then the price is too high.

Continue to advocate with respect and when you get to 85% it is yours.

Then why don’t we make murder legal?

Because then extortion would be a better way to make money than manufacturing and we would all be poor as a result.  Not being poor is one of the many things that commands the super-majority of over 85%.

What do the faithful get out of democracy?

They get freedom of religion and speech.  The opportunity to spread the good news is there.  If this does not work, look to the messenger, not our democratic system.

What does separation of church and state mean?

All must be uncertain when it comes to public policy.  It is ok for political views to be based on religious faith.  It is ok to use religious language to make political arguments as long as the language is not intended to divide.

How can I respect the opinion of others if it is bigoted, where they hate me for the color of my skin or my sexual orientation?

Our democratic system is no more capable of eliminating bigotry than enforcing good moral behavior.  Bigoted acts must be punished but don’t look into the hearts of other people, it is not any one’s place to do that.  Never use the R-word when referring to a person, only an act.  Overuse of the R-word is one of the great sources of internal political divisions today.

How can I feel good about my self without fighting for total equality?

If you are looking to feel good about your self this is a reasonable goal, but it can not be accomplished through political interaction.  Political interaction is too sacred to be spent on such a selfish goal.  All political action must be for substance.

When ever I feel offended I should speak out, right?

No. The initial response must be to try and tolerate.  Taking offense to everything is not practical.

Is it true that the American people are qualified to select their government?