Sunday, August 27, 2006

 

Three perspectives on how to fix democracy

While there is no widespread agreement on how this rekindling can be done, “Democracy’s Challenge” provides a framework for a discussion of the possibilities. It presents three perspectives on the problem, each of which suggests a somewhat different course of action:

The first perspective, “Democratic Values: Rebuilding democracy’s moral foundation,” suggests that as a nation, we have become self-indulgent and self absorbed, inclined to accept neither hard choices nor sacrifice. The emphasis on individual rights and personal freedom has undermined democracy. In recent decades, the moral curriculum has been neglected; this is a key element in our public troubles.

The second perspective, “Web of Connections: Reinventing Citizenship,” says democracy requires the ability to work together on common concerns that most people learn in clubs, church groups and local associations. The public square is emptying because many Americans aren’t making the civic connections that form the habits and sharpen the skills of citizenship.

The third perspective, “By the People: Bringing the Public Back into Politics,” says government is no longer “of, by and for the people.” Governance is something politicians do, not something that involves citizens. In a democratic nation where the people are supposed to be sovereign, citizens have lost control of the government. The political system has to be fixed so citizens once again have a central place in it.

To download free materials for conducting an issue forum or group study using “Democracy’s Challenge,” visit http://extension.missouri.edu/swregion/Publicissues/issueforums.shtml.
Comments:
One of these options hits the nail on the head.

Americans "have become self-indulgent and self absorbed, inclined to accept neither hard choices nor sacrifice. The emphasis on individual rights and personal freedom has undermined democracy."

The reason this has happened is because the moral curriculum has been neglected.

Voters think only of their self-interests and political leaders think only of power, money and getting re-elected.

We see voters self-interest in both national and local elections. In Greene County we have seen senior citizens vote "no" on every tax proposed for schools and parks but when a tax is proposed for money to benefit senior citizens (in unknown ways at the time of the election) the gray-haired folks turned out in mass to vote for it. A senior neighbor of mine voted yes because she said she needed help making ends meet and with the money the county could help her. What?

That is a perfect example of how voters have become self-indulgent. As a result, political leaders keep rolling out new programs and new expenditures to try and purchase our votes. Of course, they don't want our involvement, just our money and votes.
 
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