This Is What Democracy Looks Like

Democracy is never hidden

Democracy is all about the people. The power of governance is vested in the people. And the people often take to the streets to express their sentiments – sometimes peacefully, sometimes not.

Democracy is a worldwide phenomenon as people the world over march, holding their banners high along with their raw emotion, their displeasure and demands on full display, as this scene presses the issue of climate change.

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Democracy demands to be seen

Since the death of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis police, protests have taken to the streets across the United States. Their demand is for an end to police brutality and an acknowledgement that Black Lives Matter (BLM).

Mostly, these protests are peaceful – at least in the daylight hours. As darkness falls, a more violent element slinks in to disturb and disrupt and even destroy. These few can do a lot of damage in a short period of time. The damage they distill is realized by the fires they set, the destruction they commit, and the graffiti they leave behind.

Recently, Trump has sent in federal officers to quell the violence. These few, different though they may be, have failed their mission while fueling a public anger. These few (nobody seems to know what to call them) are not bearing identifying insignias. They have not been welcomed by local authorities. They act alone – a force sent from beyond state lines.

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This is not what democracy looks like.

Democracy protects us

Tear gas is currently being used and, on the streets of Portland, Oregon, umbrellas (used so often here in the Northwest) are opened to protect, deflect, to shield.

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Henry Latourette Miller writes in The Oregonian:

To protest against an authoritarian police state is to force yourself to witness it in action, and then resign to living in fear of that enemy. It is much, much easier, simpler, and more comfortable to live in shame for failing to stand up for the lives of Black and brown Americans and democracy than to risk the physical pain and psychological torment that might come with peacefully resisting.

That is why violence isn’t just a tactic for police. It’s the point.

Call it what it is: A federal tyrannical force meant to distract and nullify messages from the people – a distraction to silence democracy.

Democracy leverages Newton’s law of motion

There are reactions to everything. Newton spoke of a law of motion that states that, “Force is equal to the change in momentum per change in time.” It simply means that a push here results in movement over there. So, it is with democracy.

So, it is with family. Especially moms. Portland has a lot of moms. Portland moms are angry and protective. They come out in mass to make their statement.

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Wearing yellow t-shirts and arms linked together, they form a Wall of Moms night after night to protect the other protesters. They’re protecting those who gather peacefully, well within their constitutional rights, to express themselves.

This is what democracy looks like.

Democracy includes the entire family

Not to be outdone, Portland dads have come out to. Democracy inspires action (perhaps an offshoot of that Newtonian law of motion). They call themselves the PDX Dad Pod. They mean business! They’re not fighting fire with fire, though. No, they’re fighting tear gas with… well… leaf blowers. Protection is key. Breathing (denied George Floyd) is key. Justice is key.

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This is what democracy looks like.

Democracy sends a message

Democracy is all about being inclusive. It denies the intrusion of a foreign force in favor of protecting one’s own. Democracy is about making a statement that says, “Pay attention!” “We act as one!” “We stand united!”

Well, Democracy doesn’t always stand, you understand. Sometimes it sits. Recently, one of the many –the peaceful many – made a courageous statement by showing total vulnerability in the face of bullies and force and belligerence.

She sat in front of them. She boldly exposed them – not just herself – for what the agents (do we call them that?) are. Move over Lady Godiva. Her message:

Pay attention! Use no force! Do no harm! Just go away!

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This, too, is what Democracy looks like. It is a naked truth about something that sometimes must be exposed for what it is: needless, unwanted, excessive, brutish.

Democracy requires our voice – our votes

There are other ways that Democracy is exposed. It occurs every year somewhere. Every four years this nation’s citizens cast their votes for who they want as president. We want that to happen. It is our voice. It is ours. It is precious. Just as precious and just as much ours as is our bare skin.

Yet, every election we silence a large part of those who vote. Because of the Winner-Takes-All aspect of presidential elections (yes, in every state) we disenfranchise around 46% of the votes cast. In 2016 we set aside over 63 million votes without any representation in the Electoral College.

That is the naked truth. That is what we are doing to our elections. That is NOT what democracy should look like.

Equal Voice Voting (EVV) removes the WTA problem and ensures that all votes matter. Every vote that is cast matters.

Every mom should want that. Every dad should want that. Every U.S. citizen should want that. When we can get to that place wherein all votes matter, we can proudly declare, “This is what Democracy looks like!”

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By Jerry Spriggs and the Equal Voice Voting Team