Basics Confound Understanding of Democracy

Democracy basics begins with a shared understanding

The basics of democracy is expected to be understood by the nation’s citizens, especially by its leaders. A surprise I encounter as I push for a more inclusive presidential election process, is that not everyone understands what is meant by democracy. The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines democracy as:

1 a: government by the people
especially: rule of the majority

b: a government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections

Instead of being ruled by a monarchy (king or queen) or by a dictator, the power of governance rests with the people. Certainly, there are different governing constructs for a democracy but ours is a representative democracy, a constitutional democracy.

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The people (citizens) retain the power of government and wield it with their votes. These basics of our democracy was established by our U.S. Constitution and is clearly outlined from its start as the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution begins with:

We the people of the United States …

Equal Voice Voting pushes a nonpartisan approach

Because of this, the key principle for Equal Voice Voting (EVV) is that the voice of the people should be clearly heard. All voters should be included in the presidential election process and their ballots must matter. It’s basic.

Recently, I reached out to several state legislators with a press release about the recent publishing of All Votes Matter! My intent was to inform state legislators of the availability of the book, even pointing out that the Introduction is available for free at the Equal Voice Voting website.

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Click here to read the Introduction to All Votes Matter!
The book is available at popular online bookstores.

Imagine my surprise to receive a response from a state legislator who obviously took offense at the book announcement. The email reply stated:

… just another liberal ploy to undermine our Republican Form of government, the last thing we want is some bullshit “inclusive democracy.”

It was not offensive that there was an accusation of EVV being liberal. But it pointed to the reading comprehension level of the legislator. The press release begins with:

A Nonpartisan Approach is Proposed to Improve
Electoral College’s U.S. Presidential Voting Results

“Nonpartisan” clearly positions EVV as neither a liberal nor a conservative “ploy.” Sadly, the legislator either skipped that part or chose to disbelieve it.

Lack of curiosity is sometimes an issue

Further, the accusation was that EVV is designed to, “…undermine our Republican Form of government.” Had the legislator pursued any curiosity, it would have revealed that EVV respects the U.S. Constitution and honors the sovereignty of states (the Republic). The legislator ignored these truths (basics) and pursued a set of assumptions and was distracted from the message.

The concern outlined in the email reply that caught most of my attention, however, was the premise that we do not want an “inclusive democracy.” What?!

The legislator took an oath of office and, it is assumed, understands what our nation’s democracy is built upon: We the people… To deny our voting citizens their right to be included, to have their voices heard – their votes making a difference – is to fail a fundamental job requirement.

Inclusive democracy is a challenge for many

The said legislator, sadly, is not alone in this thinking – this forfeiture of democracy basics. Today’s news is full of accounts of efforts being made to suppress the voting rights of our citizens. Georgia, Texas, and Michigan are quickly grabbing headlines with bills being submitted to make voting more difficult, not easier – to make voting more exclusive, not more inclusive.

Diane Gallagher and Paul LeBlanc, of CNN, reported last month of how Michigan Republicans push for voting restrictions with new election bills. They noted:

Across the country, according to a February analysis by the liberal leaning Brennan Center for Justice, at least 253 bills have been introduced this year in 43 state legislatures with provisions that would restrict voting access — more than six times the number of bills for the same time last year.

They quote Michigan Secretary of State, Jocelyn Benson, a Democrat:

Many of the bills in this package will make it harder for citizens to vote. Rather than introducing bills based on disproven lies and copied from other states, lawmakers should be codifying what worked in 2020.

Michigan voters demonstrated they want our elections to be accessible in 2018 when they enshrined new voting rights in our state constitution, and again in 2020 when millions exercised those new rights. Everything we do should be based on protecting the right to vote, and too many of these bills would do the opposite.

Good governance depends on democratic inclusiveness

Voting access is a huge concern for many states. The question that persists is, “Are the legislators proposing these bills influenced by a misperception of our democracy’s basics? Are they confounded by the idea that our democracy is expected to be an inclusive form of government?

Due voting process deliberation is a welcomed aspect of good governance. Our legislators must be careful in their assessment of proposed legislation. Steps offered to enhance election integrity are worthwhile. They should also enhance voter access.

Finally, good governance should not be considered as sole concerns of either left or right, liberal or conservative, strength or weakness. All perspectives should be included, welcomed, encouraged. It’s called inclusive democracy. It’s basic.

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By Jerry Spriggs and the Equal Voice Voting Team

 

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