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Black Community Opinions

Local Voices: A Threat To Democracy

By George F. Reed

Democracy as we know it is being threaten by the election of Donald Trump and his appointed posse of millionaire and billionaires getting set to run the government. In my view, democracy is a precious thing, but vulnerable. There is ample proof that shows that the enemies of democracy are numerous as they are threatening. It was in 1947 that Winston Churchill said: “Many forms of government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretend that democracy is perfect…Indeed it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.” Today as in 1947 Churchill’s word are prophetic because it tell us and at the same time warn us that Democracy is a difficult and arduous process

Democracy is about citizens and state coming together under an establish core of constitutional principles and institutions in an effort to improve society and social justice. It is not easy nor has it been perfected, but we struggle daily to make it work. When I last checked, Democracy does not include oppression, corruption, division, segregation, terror and or murder. The Obama Administration is one of the best examples that I can cite that reflected what a genuine Democratic nation was about. America strived under his administration due to its diversity, inclusiveness, and the collective wisdom of his administrative group.

Our Democracy is being threaten by the Trump Administration, a republican congress that has loss it way, and a judiciary that is one step from being compromised. One more conservative judge could make a difference as to whether Democracy as we know it could run off the mountain. The rule of law is important at this juncture and it is the only thing standing between us and a healthy democracy. Alexander Hamilton warned us that there could be no liberty if the power of the judiciary is not separate from the legislative and executive branches of government. The real power to review acts passed by legislators, according to Hamilton, is a formidable safeguard against potential harms that may be caused to the rights of individuals. We must be vigilant in preventing the president elect from appointing judges that will simply render judgements acceptable to the government rather than impartially acting on laws that preserves the rights of individuals or groups of individuals. With the right judges in place, the incoming president and his posse can subtly project an image of a constitutional democracy, but rule as a dictator of the legislature and judiciary. Abraham Lincoln put it this way; our government must be “of, by and for the people.”

I am aware that any fundamental and hopeful improvements in our society and it institutions cannot happen without significant shift in our consciousness, and not through simple organization tricks. For the Trump administration to be successful, it must extricate itself from both the obvious and hidden mechanisms of totality, and from advertising to manipulation through television. In my view, Mr. Trump must discover within himself a deeper sense of responsibility toward this nation, the world and something higher than himself.

Voting does have consequences and we as citizens have a responsibility to be informed and knowledgeable of the issues and individuals seeking public offices. According to a report in the Huffington Post on a report from the U.S. Department of Education and the National Institute of Literacy, 32 million adults (14%) can’t read, and 21 % read below the 5th grade. It is obvious from the recent election that illiteracy is a perpetual threat to democracy when so many people seemingly vote against their own self interests. Reading and understanding is more than simply reading the word. It means you must understand concepts, responsibilities, other people, and the role diversity plays in making America a strong nation.

In the next four years it is important that we as citizen ensure an appropriate balance between majority rule and the protection of individual and minority’ rights. We must guard against the president elect and his posse creating an oligarchy and or plutocracy while trying to project a constitutional democracy. Our rights as citizen must be protected by our courts. These rights as John Locke described them are “Inalienable” have been transformed to fundamental or human rights today. Look around you today in the newspapers and on televisions, you will find instances where these individual and groups rights are being violated on a regular basis.

The strength of a democracy lies within it people and it societal institutions. These institutions help shield us from the tyranny of individuals and the other factions. Fundamentally, the rule of law upheld by a strong Judiciary is necessary for a healthy democracy. This is a time that we vigorously need to agitate our congressmen and senators on the threats posed by the Trump administration on our beloved democracy and demand that they become statesmen instead of puppets in a reality show, and that our court be just. Remember, the greatest threats to democracy does not come the barrel of a gun, but from the collected effects of poverty, apathy, ignorance, social and economic security. Donald Trump has shown us his hand. He has scorned judicial independence, threatened the freedom of the press, promised to use waterboarding which was banded by the Obama Administration, scorned Americans based on their gender, race and religion, and undermining our basic democratic norms, and the list goes on. Make no mistakes, Trump has an insatiable appetite for power as most despots do. He sees himself as the ultimate authority and arbiter of our rights. I have doubts that he and the millionaire and billionaire families, owners of extremely large multi-national corporations and military leaders will be sensitive to issues and challenges faced by citizens in this country.

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