College Conservatives Maranatha Chapter is a Registered Student Organization dedicated to providing information on candidates, office holders, ballot measures, and current event issues to the students, faculty and community surrounding Maranatha Baptist University.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

This is What a Democracy Looks Like?




Written by Jessica Walworth

     I recently read Yeats's statement, "The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity." But after attending Wisconsin Family Council's Day at the Capitol, I disagree.  
     Wisconsin made history six weeks ago when Governor Walker produced the budget repair bill (http://maranathaconservatives.blogspot.com/2011/02/scott-walkers-budget-reform-bill.html). This bill made national headlines and dinner conversations. People took to the streets screaming about infringed rights, manipulated trusts, and tyrannical governors. Regardless of where you stand on this bill, however, as a Wisconsin citizen, you should be disturbed over the logic of those who rose to protest. 
     March 31st was Wisconsin Family Council's Day at the Capitol. A group that does not hide behind political correctness or popularity, the WFC impressed me. The speakers included both Fitzgeralds, Joanne Kloppenburg's campaign manager, a representative of the Prosser campaign and a few Assemblymen including dynamic freshman Evan Wynn. The group had personality and the speakers had decorum- characteristics of a representative democracy. 
     Wisconsin Family Council President Julaine Appling brought her State & Local Government class to the Day at the Capitol. I and eleven other students headed to Madison Thursday morning to watch history. We watched a brave Kloppenburg campaign manager take a lot of heat over a controversial commercial (justified or out of line, I will leave that decision up to you), an affirmation of Senate Majority leader Fitzgerald and House Majority leader Fitzgerald caucus efforts, and Appling conclude with an encouragement to the generation of tomorrow. It was an incredible opportunity for our class. Then we went on tours of the Capitol. Those who were given the two o'clock tour had an hour and the Capitol Square as entertainment. And this is where we witnessed a breakdown of American government.
     The Capitol resembled Jericho on Thursday. Although the bill was proposed six weeks ago, protesters still were walking laps around the Capitol Square. I had read articles describing Assembly representatives flailing their arms and yelling "Shame! Shame!" between bursts of foul and threatening language; I had seen the pictures of mobs forcing their way into the Capitol rotunda with signs comparing government officials to Hitler. I had not, however, witnessed it first hand. 
     I had not witnessed the blatant disdain for civility; I had not heard the derision. Above all I had not experienced the signs, mantras, and propaganda dripping with illogic.
     Contrary to this chaotic scene, the day was beautiful and the Capitol an incredible background. Those taking the later tour meandered around the Square. We soon ran into a sizable group of middle aged women with fanny packs and megaphones.  With gusto these women chanted "This is what a democracy looks like!"  A Pontiac (pictured below) circled the square honking in cadence. 
     Well... they are right- that is exactly what a democracy looks like.


     A pure democracy is direct government through the majority voice. Pure democracy advocates every citizen's vote on literally every law. The Constitution, however, does not define the United States as a democracy. In Article IV Section 4 the United States Constitution defines every state in the union as a "Republican Form of Government." Funny that the Founding Fathers did not define our government as a democracy. The classification of republic, opposed to democracy, is exact and intentional. 
     A democracy is mob rule; a true democracy leaves out checks and balances and operates under the creed "might makes right." The fanny pack women demonstrated democracy; these women showed that a democracy is a means by which individuals make themselves the final arbitrator of the law. 


     The Founding Fathers wrote of the dangers of democracy:
     Alexander Hamilton: "We are a Republican government. Real liberty is never found in despotism or in the extremes of democracy... it has been observed that a pure democracy if it were practicable would be the most perfect government. Experience has proved that no position is more false than this. The ancient democracies in which the people themselves deliberated never possessed one good feature of government. Their very character was tyranny; their figure deformity." 
     John Adams: "Democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide." 
     Thomas Jefferson: "A democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where 51% of the people may take away the rights of the other 49%." 
     James Madison: "Democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their death."
     John Quincy Adams: "The experience of all former ages had shown that of all human governments, democracy was the most unstable, fluctuating and short lived."

     Protesters, America is not a democracy.

     Walking into the rotunda, after passing a sign outlawing massage chairs and crock-pots, I saw mob rule. The rotunda held a sign with Governor Walker's face painted green with a Santa hat reading "You're a mean one Mr. Grinch!" A different fool (and I am sticking to this word choice- even his fellow protesters were trying to get him to shut-up) with a megaphone saying "Welcome to American government where you have no rights and if you don't make 500,000 dollars you're government wants to see you dead!" 


     That day in the Capitol I had a second encounter with democracy. I met the "Dying for Democracy" man. I met this man as he sat on the rotunda floor being interviewed by MSNBC.
     This man had a sign that said "Hunger Strike Day" with a flip chart underneath that read "27."
     This man had a sign that said he was dying for democracy.
     Apparently this man had not eaten for 27 days, in the name of democracy.
     This man's actions are quite foolish. He is "dying" for a philosophy that his government does not hold to. He is "dying" to keep a right never given to him. He is "dying" instead of going to work to earn food. Someone feed the man a hamburger.
     These tactics do not conform to a republican form of government. A republican form of government elects officials and has civilized discussions.


     On our way out, after a tour of a beautiful capitol, I saw an interesting sign of protest:
     "Be a inform voter!" [sic]
     Yes, please. 
     Be an informed voter. 
     I beg you.  
   

5 comments:

sixfooter said...

Well done, Jessica. An excellent perspective on the day.

Sound Doctrine said...

Glad to hear someone pointing out the Republic vs Democracy point! Great job!

breakintoblossom said...

Accolades!
It takes a lot for a self-identified lesbian hippie vegetarian from Boulder, CO to leave a comment like that on something with 'conservatives' in the title, but the logic and historical accuracy of this is undeniable. What both parties need right now is an increase in critical thinking, not blind acceptance of any one ideological agenda.
And I can't help thinking the Founding Fathers would agree.

Yvonne said...

Voices of reason are soon shouted over by the clamor of ignorance.

But that does not stop the wise from desiring and pursuing wisdom.

Joel said...

Very well written, Jessica. I particularly liked this point:
"A pure democracy is direct government through the majority voice. Pure democracy advocates every citizen's vote on literally every law."

You go on to explain that in our republic, such "mob rule" leaves out checks and balances, two essential tools to a well-functioning government.

You may be right that the fanny pack women and the Pontiac “this is democracy” drivers possess a slighted view our republic. However, peaceful protest is an attempt to bring to light certain grievances, to hold our elected representatives to account. NOT to change the law on the spot. If executed peacefully, protest will remain one of our greatest (read: not the only) tools against unchecked power. I speak not on behalf of the group that took to Madison’s streets back in April; rather, I speak on behalf of all engaged citizens. When it comes to our right to peacefully protest, we cannot waver depending on the cause in question.

Before I close, I want to return to your quote about democracy, majority voice, and legislation at the hand of the people. If this is your view, I am sure you would then take issue with the recent decision by the voters of the State of North Carolina to propose a constitutional amendment to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman. If I understand your argument correctly, it is our elected representatives that should make this decision, NOT the “uninformed” masses. If I follow your logic, we do not have the capacity to decide what is constitutional. Such mob rule would tarnish the fabric of our society.