“The Problems with American Democracy”
Don’t get me wrong! I thoroughly love American democracy and the abundant freedoms that it allows me to enjoy. I can be creative, individualistic, entrepreneurial, and I can unequivocally believe in my interpretation and practice of American free enterprise. American democracy allows me to be expressive and critical of politicians’ positions on various issues and simultaneously pretend being intellectual without any palpable fear of government reprisal. I can publish fiction and non-fiction books and expound on my diverse opinions with impunity. I truly appreciate and value what my guaranteed liberties personally mean to me. But outside of myself’ and outside my interests and needs I am genuinely suspect of the functioning of democracy in a contemporary mass society. Let me explain and elaborate.
American politicians want me to believe that democracy is the greatest thing going since the creation of oxygen and food but I know from history that the concept of modern democracy did have its origin in ancient Greece and not in 1776 Philadelphia. The more celebrated Greek philosophers in the midst of their great polemics heaped ample criticism on democracy as an honorable system of government (let alone even contemplating the notion of verbally attacking democracy as a viable form of education as we now practice in the USA). In the Athens of Socrates and Pericles, the Golden Age citadel of pure democracy, the esteemed philosopher Plato described democracy as “in every way weak and unable to do either great good or great evil for civilization.”
According to venerable Plato, “The will of the people is the worst of all lawful governments and the best of all lawless ones!” In other words democracy represents a median fluctuating in a twilight zone somewhere between great and poor. Plato believed that a Republic was indeed the best form of government as stated in his work The Republic. A democracy would be doomed to eventually gravitating towards mediocrity, and after examining what democracy has been doing to our bureaucrats in Washington DC and to our civilization and culture, what it has done in our public schools, in the family unit and to society in general, Plato’s remarkable assessment was not far off the mark.
The central problem with costly American democracy (both in government and in the local public schools) is that our society’s problems and weaknesses are allowed to thrive and proliferate unabated at the conscientious taxpayers’ expense. Anyone that has avidly studied history realizes that Republics like the Roman Empire could last for millennia but democracies are usually short-lived.
Plato’s strong timeless argument seems credible even today when weighing into consideration issues like social welfare, unemployment, crime, drug abuse, individual irresponsibility as a human choice (freedom to choose) and the weaknesses of politicians in Congress and bureaucrats sitting on local boards of education dispensing important and essential educational directives in every community in this great Republic. In many respects democracy is the antithesis of the stability permitted by a prosperous capitalistic Republic. It is our free enterprise economic system that gives America stability and not so much our democratic government and education systems.
Plato wasn’t the only brilliant ancient-times mind that had doubts about the viability of democracy as an effective and efficient form of government. Other brilliant Athenians such as Aeschylus, Sophocles, Aristophanes, Aristotle and Demosthenes distrusted the ugly problems that a democratic government (without a Republic’s strong laws) might generate. Freedom for everybody usually means waste, expense and attendant social disorganization, especially when the more industrious citizens must always do more work to help, provide for and assist the ever-existent slackers. That’s an inherent curse of democracy. Good industrious people must care for, feed, produce for and clothe those that lack self-motivation and those that eschew the spirit of free enterprise.
It has been the American Republic’s traditional idea of respect for law and order that has constructively contributed to national stability throughout our country’s two-century plus history and not the democratic principle of pursuing absolute freedom (anarchy) for the masses, many of whom depend on government assistance for sustenance. And when our U.S. public schools pursue and champion student democratic freedoms guaranteed in the Bill of Rights, another earthquake has shaken the foundation of our great American Republic when education mimics the role and function of our inefficient American government.
Freedom without respect for authority (parents, teachers, policemen, judges, the law) eventually means chaos, turmoil and cultural disintegration, and as long as militant left-wing reformers and naïve educational psychologists give more democratic freedom to criminals and students to defiantly misbehave and then simultaneously transfer (steal) authority away from teachers and policemen, public school education and American society will continue to decay, crumble and rot from the inside’ out. And as long as our American democracy promotes absolute freedom for all of its citizens the United States is undeniably heading down the road to socialism and ultimately on a course with anarchy and chaos should a national catastrophe such as a nuclear war or a massive depression occur. It is the idea of having a free enterprise system and an American Republic (respect for law and order and valuing the existence of others) that keeps the USA strong and independent and not the notion of us being a contemporary democracy (championing the expansion of individual rights).
The basic difficulty with American democracy is that it tolerates and attempts to mitigate all aspects of negative human nature. Criminals, murderers, thieves, drug addicts and dealers, sex offenders, prostitutes and other types of immoral and/or irresponsible people are given the same equal rights as contributors, honorable individuals, volunteers, law-abiding folks and societal benefactors. Totally dysfunctional people (citizens) are thoroughly protected under the mantle of Constitutional rights and allowed to flourish and practice their negative influences on civilization while these same pernicious social predators are generally shielded and protected by laws and avaricious lawyers under the guise of the First Ten Amendments.
In our American democracy the First Ten Amendments are given the power to undermine the teachings of the Ten Commandments, thus destabilizing the foundations of an altruistic Republic. Unless necessary countermeasures are soon adopted and employed this fundamental hypocrisy of a surplus of democracy weakening our venerable Republic will eventually initiate the decline and fall of the highly envied American way of life.
And I’m sad to report that there are no demanding qualifications for becoming a United States’ citizen if someone is coincidentally born in this blessed country. Being born in America should not be the only criterion for citizenship, but in the past and also currently in the present it is. First of all a good citizen must be literate and know how to read and write with a degree of fluency and skill. Secondly, a good citizen must know essential knowledge about our nation’s history, about its admirable free enterprise capitalistic system of economics and also comprehend pertinent ideas relative to American culture. These cited principles contribute to the cohesiveness of our American civilization but presently they are not requirements for a native-born individual obtaining citizenship. A person born in the United States should not be eligible for citizenship until he or she graduates high school and demonstrates a mastery of reading, writing, U.S. history and fundamental cultural knowledge. Then after exhibiting those essential educational skills an eighteen-year-old should then qualify for taking an obligatory test to certify his or her right to receive citizenship and voting privileges. Voting and citizenship should be earned privileges and should not be assumed rights conferred upon potentially irresponsible people at birth. As it now stands immigrants studying to be United States’ citizens often know more about U.S. history than many “unworthy citizens” that acquired that particular designation simply by fortunately being born in the United States of America.
Another very evident weakness of American democracy is the fact that on the average only 40% to 50% of the eligible population votes in national, state and local elections. This deficiency is both disgraceful and problematic. Those that do not actively participate in democracy should be excluded from citizenship and from voting. American democracy is based on several suspect premises: that man is good and that he can be trusted and that he or she cares abut himself or herself and about his or her world.
Conversely a Communist society believes that man is evil and therefore must be controlled. The ideal civilization and/or most satisfactory government would be a Republic where people have earned privileges and can maintain them through the exercise of honorable public goals and behaviors. In other words what we now understand as rights would be privileges that could be earned but also that could be lost or taken away because of illicit and/or immoral conduct. Illegal drug usage, abuse of self and others, criminal behavior warranting incarceration and general contempt toward other human beings represented in hurting or harming one’s fellow man would automatically result in the termination of citizenship.
Just like actions generate good and bad consequences, so too should inaction. What is the sense of being a legitimate U.S. citizen if illegal aliens and non-citizens have the exact same rights as you do? The best solution to the ongoing democracy dilemma would be to create and maintain a society based on acquired or lost privileges rather than one heralding equal permanent rights for everyone, whether they be responsible or irresponsible individuals, criminals or ethical citizens. Our Founding Fathers were moral men whose model public conduct and independent spirit are deserving of our imitation. That philosophy should be characteristic of our laws and practices.
I firmly believe that all American citizens should be required and expected to fulfill much-needed roles promoting community and societal stability through volunteerism. Every adult man and woman should be required to belong to service clubs like the Lions, the Kiwanis, the Rotary and the Exchange. As worthy alternatives a good citizen could be involved in their church, in public charities, in the local volunteer fire department or rescue squad, be a hospital volunteer, become a Big Brother or Big Sister or serve as a Little League coach. In the newly conceived privilege-oriented democracy/Republic, no healthy able-bodied person that also desires maintaining his or her citizen status gets a free pass. Every citizen (or citizen wanna’ be) would be required to give something back to society by loyally adhering to a form of volunteerism. Every citizen ought to be proactive in taking a vital interest in the continuation of the nation’s culture. The present “rights-oriented democracy for all” does not make any mandatory demands on its population, particularly on its indolent and unmotivated citizens. As a result apathy has become the watchword for all-too-many freeloaders.
Another glaring disadvantage of American democracy is that elected politicians are increasingly beholding to their constituencies. In many instances pressure groups, special interest influences and ethnic minority factions constitute real obstacles to objective and effective governmental decision-making. Elected officials will instinctively openly placate and pander to these “special interest groups” to garner votes and support, and soon criminals, child molesters, reparations’ advocates, those that broadcast sexual innuendo garbage over the airwaves, illegal Mexican aliens obtaining amnesty and unemployed welfare recipients will be able to achieve their political goals by manipulating local, state and national elected officials on policies and issues that incidentally favor them.
And then radical ACLU lawyers and liberal activist judges are eager to distort the idea of “freedom of speech” to encompass lewdness, utterances of obscenities and vulgarities in public, nudity, hate speech, college professors voicing anarchy, insurrection, rebellion and class-warfare revolution and the dissolution of Christian holidays and symbols associated with Christmas, Thanksgiving, Halloween, St. Patrick’s Day, St. Valentine’s Day and Easter. In its original context “Freedom of Speech” simply meant challenging arbitrary and capricious government edicts. Its definition and implementation had little to do with the explicit obscenities indicative of rap music lyrics and of nude dancing and pornographic literature emporiums in American communities. When a country loses the stability evident in its past it begins losing its moral identity in the present and in the future.
Nowhere is the negative influence of too much democracy translating into mediocrity as much evident in today’s America than that which is apparent in our lackluster public schools. In this new arrangement called “cooperative education” the teacher (authority figure) is reduced from being the significant knowledge person guiding the class through a lesson and now his or her new function is to wander from classroom group to group being a general resource person known as a “facilitator.” The new educational democracy emphasis is on the group (instead of the professional authority individual) determining its own goals, roles and methods.
Now here’s where quality time-on-task education ultimately suffers with this new “child centered curriculum.” The classroom groups waste valuable time bickering, debating, selecting, compromising, and talking while student individual will (along with teacher authority) is surrendered to conform to student majority opinion. When teachers are compelled to divide classes into groups to engage in “cooperative learning” they are adhering to an educational trend that postulates “getting along with others” (in a newly established and recognized pecking order) transcends the need for “individual academic achievement and accountability.” Just like in the American political structure, in public school education socialism is disguised and marketed as democracy and group dominance prevails. Many lethargic members of those classroom groups heavily rely on the group managers to do both their work and homework for them.
And so public high schools produce many students that can’t read and can’t write because someone in the “cooperative group” had done those things for them (just like in the political welfare system) since those other conscientious students wanted to get good grades for themselves on their report cards. Schools are now producing many doltish graduates that are unskilled, untrained, and unprepared and unless they’re going to college the seniors are bound for and being herded into minimum wage employment. But despite those horrendous salient facts school administrators are edified to know that the graduates have learned how to get along with one another in cooperative democratic groups. The “group technique” in American education has dismally failed because the suspect method has been and is producing a society of empty-headed gossipers and not a nation of independent thinkers.
When students are divided into groups for “cooperative learning” the stronger-willed ones and the more intelligent ones will naturally dominate the group’s power structure. The more dynamic student leaders tend to be ambitious and are concerned about doing well because they selfishly want to earn a good grade for their group contribution. The more industrious student leaders not only determine the direction the group will take but also wind-up doing the bulk of the work for the lazy students in the group that lack sufficient motivation to achieve on their own. But when the non-workers and the non-contributors become the dominant decision makers later in life in either American democratic education or in the American political structure, then mediocrity will prevail (just like Plato had asserted) and excellence is automatically stifled. Does this trend in American democratic education sound familiar? American education is redundantly mimicking the failed democratic (socialistic) welfare system that ensures the continuation of individual irresponsibility being rewarded by the U.S. federal and state governments for “citizens” habitually practicing a lack of motivation and/or bad habits! And please remember that the Marxist/Lenin Russian Communists used to call their failed agricultural system “Cooperatives.”
When an educational scenario exists where the better-motivated students’ produce work for the more lethargic ones and when the less motivated students profit from the labor of the more motivated gifted-students, then the endgame is educational socialism and not educational democracy. The same principle holds true in adult America where the influence of non-productive members of society on vulnerable and power-hungry American politicians has become the standard. In our American democracy irresponsibility is rewarded and mediocrity is now the clarion call.
Democratic education (as interpreted by educational psychology) has led to a very dangerous notion that “students should be equal.” Student academic performance and behavioral differences are minimized in today’s public schools regardless of individual ability. Excellence is sacrificed and mediocrity results when both ends of the educational spectrum (A and F students) are forced to gravitate toward a sociological median.
And in the functioning of American government, the productive members, employers and corporations through their hard-earned tax dollars must support those people (citizens) that are unmotivated and dependent on government assistance despite the fact that the social parasites had equal opportunity to learn in public schools and now have equal opportunity to advance in the American free enterprise system. The economic playing field is now available for ambitious minorities but first blacks and Hispanics must overcome the “irresponsibility and apathy syndromes” that prevail in the culturally isolated city ghettos.
While the needs of the group are magnified in democratic education the input of the students that contribute the most is devalued in terms of individual reward in American education (the same truth exists in American politics). The smarter ambitious students in school and the smarter ambitious citizens in society then become subordinated to the needs of the group and must tow the weight of the weaker non-motivated students and unmotivated citizens. By craftily interplaying psychological and philosophical terminology like “cooperative learning,” “democratic education” “welfare,” “justice” and “sharing,” the truth becomes blurred and nebulous in the eighty-percent “middle area gray zone” and is increasingly more difficult for the average citizen to distinguish and fathom.
And so socialism (group work and re-distribution of wealth from the motivated to the un-motivated) is advanced and stealthily masquerades around disguised as democracy (individual pursuit) in both education and in American politics. Thus our great Republic is constantly and egregiously being endangered by democratic (socialistic) initiatives.
I have been and right now am disturbed that if the prevalent practice in public school education and in American politics is indeed socialism, then the exercise ought not be labeled and marketed under the title democratic education or under the guise of American democracy. Our beloved country has drastically wandered from our original American Constitutional precepts (individual pursuit and individual rights) as prescribed by our Founding Fathers’ wishes both in our society’s daily welfare-oriented activities that have been more recently redefined and instituted in our public schools. This socialistic deviation from true democratic (free enterprise) principles has weakened our national moral fiber and has spontaneously and simultaneously weakened our American Republic.
Being politically correct and being influenced by sound-byte messages in popular American society have taken precedence over the need for individual sacrifice and individual accomplishment (resulting from hard work) directed toward attaining a personal goal. Smart students are labeled “nerds” and “geeks” and “freaks” by their dumber peers and the academically gifted teens are also labeled “selfish” by the educational powers-that-be because some smarter students refuse to share their knowledge with their peer’ intimidators. And in the society at large those incentive-oriented individuals that practice free enterprise must also support those “vegetable citizens” that are perfectly content living at a lower standard while either doing little for themselves or for their fellow man or even caring to benefit or improve either condition.
Both our American society and our public schools are losing their sense of purpose, are shrewdly hiding their weaknesses and are destroying the sacred foundations of our American culture that were originally predicated on self-sufficiency. By attempting to accommodate the needs of those students that cannot measure-up to the rigorous standards of individual pursuit of happiness, free individual enterprise, the American dream and the pioneering instinct as ordained by Thomas Jefferson, public schools (and our deficient American democracy) have adopted the course to use socialistic methods to attain democratic goals, thus making our Republic vulnerable to weakness and in jeopardy of eventually dissolving from the inside. Today’s teenagers (and many of our lackluster dependent adults) misconstrue the pursuit of pleasure as the definition for the pursuit of happiness heralded in Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence. As a result our American culture is becoming more hedonistic than intellectual and more volatile and less stable.
So in conclusion our cherished American democracy is destined to wallow in mediocrity by tolerating individual misconduct, increasing crime, non-motivated people and by over-protectively looking out for their unmeritorious interests by sympathetically calling slackers “unfortunate citizens.” I agree with Plato. The best form of government would be a no-nonsense Republic that treats rights as privileges that (first of all) must be earned through achievement and accomplishment, maintained by commitment and by dedicated volunteer service to the society with the requisite understanding that those privileges would be revoked should an individual fall into practicing bad habits and demonstrating continual irresponsibility.
A new governmental paradigm is needed and it should be one that manifests citizen privileges as opposed to espousing “unalienable rights for everyone.” A fundamental problem with democracy is that not everyone pulls their own weight and those that don’t are rewarded with welfare and Medicaid (Guess who pays for this?)
In addition to the welfare quagmire evil and malicious people cannot be trusted and ought to have their “privileges” revoked. The Communists were partially right; some lawbreaking people can’t be credited with “equal rights” and must be controlled on the basis of past negative performance. Some people cannot be trusted with absolute freedom (and must be controlled), especially when their self-centered actions endanger the rights and/or safety of themselves and others.
American Representative Democracy is an inefficient form of government that makes hard-working upper middle class citizens contribute almost fifty percent of their annual incomes in taxes to subsidize others (in terms of housing and public school education) that live just a tier below them in terms of material comforts and medical and social benefits.
Jay Dubya (author of 41 books including RAM: Random Articles and Manuscripts).
About the Author
Jay Dubya is author’ John Wiessner’s pen name. John is a retired New Jersey’ public school teacher, having diligently taught the subject for thirty-four years. John lives in Hammonton, New Jersey with wife Joanne, and the couple has three grown sons.
John has written and e-published twenty-seven books. Besides Thirteen Sick Tasteless Classics, Thirteen Sick Tasteless Classics, Part II, Thirteen Sick Tasteless Classics, Part III and Thirteen Sick Tasteless Classics, Part IV, Jay Dubya has written Pieces of Eight, Pieces of Eight, Part II, and Pieces of Eight, Part III and Pieces of Eight, Part IV. All four Pieces of Eight’ works contain short stories and novellas that feature science fiction and paranormal plots and themes. Two Baker’s Dozen is a collection of twenty-six short stories. So Ya’ Wanna’ Be A Teacher is a non-fiction autobiography of the author’s teaching career.
Other Jay Dubya adult-oriented fiction are the works Black Leather and Blue Denim, A ‘50s Novel, and its exciting sequel, The Great Teen Fruit War, A 1960’ Novel. Frat’ Brats, A ‘60s Novel completes the “coming-of-age” trilogy. Jay Dubya also has produced two irreverent Biblical satires, The Wholly Book of Genesis and The Wholly Book of Exodus. A third satire Ron Coyote, Man of La Mangia is also a parody on Miguel Cervantes’ classic novel, Don Quixote published in 1605. Mauled Maimed Mangled Mutilated Mythology satirizes twenty-one classic myths and Fractured Frazzled Folk Fables and Fairy Farces and FFFF&FF, Part II satirize famous stories from children’s literature.
The author has also penned a young adult fantasy trilogy, Pot of Gold, Enchanta and Space Bugs, Earth Invasion. The Eighteen’ Story Gingerbread House features original children’s tales.
Jay Dubya really likes ‘50s music, and he also listens to songs by the Beatles, ELO, the Carpenters, the Beach Boys, Fleetwood Mac, the Eagles, the Rolling Stones, John Mellencamp and John Fogerty.
When not listening to popular music, Jay Dubya prefers watching 76ers’ basketball and Phillies and Yankees’ television baseball games.