March 25 • 08:14 PM
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What’s happened to American Democracy?

To the Editor:

Recent events might lead one to think some Americans don't truly believe in our form of Democracy.

On one hand you have Democrats running the government like a one party state. They say their party is the answer to the problems the other party caused when the Republicans ran America like they owned it.

Across the aisle the Republicans are spending most of their energy on silly but nasty slogans and personal attacks while offering few if any practical critiques or workable ideas. They know honest, loyal opposition is expected and needed to supply both for our democracy to work.

Is it possible that a very small minority of wealthy right wing business interests is attempting to take over the Republican party? It does seem as though someone is willing to spend a lot of cash to disrupt, distort, and disable the normal political processes of our Republic and subvert the will of the majority.

Meanwhile, a Supreme Court with a right wing majority may be about to change its own opinions and reverse decades of legal practice by interpreting old laws in new ways, in effect creating new laws that would among other things give corporations and unions the same First Amendment rights to free speech as actual human beings. This will allow institutional officers to spend as much organization money as they want to purchase media time (TV, radio, newspapers, Internet billboards, etc.) during the 30 days before an election. The candidates with the most media time at the end are usually the ones that will get elected of course.

Culturally things aren't any better. We are at the point where elementary school principals are censoring the speech of a sitting President of the United States! Can they possibly think they are teaching children something positive and not actually sowing the seeds of disrespect and disregard for authority and Democracy in general?

The great democratic experiment we call America is still robust and vigorous after more than 200 years. Its immense strength and glorious past belie the fragility at its core and the delicacy of care required to maintain it. Tyrants and dictators have come and gone since civilization began and if America, the world's first and longest lasting Democracy, fails because we let people whose moral compass only points to greed take it from us, then shame on us.

Mike Waller, Attica
September 16, 2009

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