On Democracy ~or~ Working With The Government You’ve Got

This is not a coherent essay. They are just thoughts I had while trying to devise an argument that didn’t take three pages, to explain my viewpoint on voting. I may come back and sort these ideas out into a more cohesive statement. But I’m intent on doing some fiction writing (some are crying out ‘too late’) today, so I’m just going to cut & paste my arguments here and let you sift amongst them for the relevant bits.

‘We’ is a pretty significant word, there. Plenty of people are active in their various branches of government, whether they’re working toward achieving good things for our society as a whole or not.

That means some of ‘us’ ARE getting what we want. Just not ALL of us.

It behooves all of us as a society to participate in our democratic processes if we want to have our voices and ideas heard; if we want greater say, we need to work to elect those people who truly want to implement real change.

The system is not immutable. It’s just slow to act, and resists unnecessary change. Push harder. Speak up. Or at least help those who are pushing in a direction you can get behind.

In other words, vote. Vote with your ballot, vote with your money, vote with your activist efforts. You won’t wake up in a perfect world over night, but the more you put in, the greater your chances of making something real happen.

But if you want to see change, then doing nothing about it is absolutely guaranteed to get you exactly what you put in: nothing. It’s not about bitching rights. It’s about becoming the change you want to see in the world around you.

I assure you, fans of the status quo or of the corporate interest are doing their part. Staying home in protest of how things seem to be going, or due to disenfranchisement (or good old ‘don’t give a $#!^’) give those in power exactly the mandate they need to continue serving those special interest groups who persist in demanding things in spite of the common weal.

Our government system may seem like this Manchurian puzzle box that can’t be opened, but this is demonstrably untrue. Plenty of changes have been made, in both directions, in the last few decades of our constitutional monarchy. Sadly, particularly at the Federal level, we’ve seen too much change at the expense of our society in recent times. However, I truly believe voter turnout can still change that, come the next election. Not all agree. I get that. But what else have you got? I hear the complaints, but not the options. Show me your plan. I might like it. I might even opt in.

But I refuse to believe the answer is refusing to pay taxes until a new form of government is installed. If nothing gets better by refusing to work for it, certainly nothing can be done if the resources to make those changes aren’t available, simply because some people refuse to recognize the needs of the different groups of their society. And that’s basically what it comes down to: a refusal to compromise and realize that others in our society need different things from us, and that this requires tax dollars spent to fix inequities. So long as everyone’s basic needs are being met, we can at least avoid the pitfalls of societies that insist on throwing the least of our society under the bus. I’m not saying it’s a perfect system. Certainly we need to shake things up and get people into place who can and will exercise their mandate to fix the problems of our society.

I think my problem with the premise of having no government is that we actually think that’s a thing. It’s not. Government doesn’t exist simply because there is a vacuum of freedom. They are not mutually exclusive concepts. And unless you want to install a system that literally changes from the bottom up every time a new decision has to be made (not saying that can’t be; just that it’s not practical at the moment), then you have to work with what you’ve got. There will always be some form of government, even if it is radically more participatory than what we have now.

Operationally, we have seen many, many governments that curtail certain freedoms, especially when the alarmists among us cry out for greater restrictions on freedom for their sense of personal security. In that one instance, I agree with the libertarians. We need to keep our civil rights protected from any political or economic force that can and will strip them away and leave us indentured to a machine that doesn’t improve our lives. That is my definition of injustice.

But trying to change (or replace) a government by refusing to participate in what democratic processes it has built into it is woefully short sighted. There are nations where the only way to make change is with a gun, and that change always seems to be illusory, because any system put in place by force of arms can and will be removed similarly. You need to win hearts and minds to have a lasting revolution. You also need to be patient, because most of the people will not opt into your new society if you disregard their needs the same way you feel this one society disregards yours. And of course, meeting virtually everyone’s basic needs, to win their vote, essentially, takes a lot of time and effort.

The opposite of Freedom is not Government. That’s a false dichotomy. We choose our government simply by not objecting to how things are done in our society. Government is simply the codes and methods we have cobbled together to make sure everyone gets along in our society. The more responsible a government, the better things tend to be, or at least, the better than can get with effort.

But if you want real, sweeping change in how your society is run, you have to actually know what you want, and figure out exactly how to get it, or no one else will agree with you, and no one will join your revolution. Simply crying foul achieves nothing, and armed insurrection achieves less, in the long run.

When the masses can all agree that change is needed, a government will bow, or resist, in which case, force is required. But so long as a government, regardless of how sluggish and willful it is, serves the needs of the majority of its society, your desire for change must happen from within.

Government and Freedom of Choice are not mutually exclusive concepts. Government is not by its very nature evil. We can and do achieve great things as a society by fostering responsible government. And no human society can operate long without some form of governance, no matter how participatory it is or is not.

It may take some hard work to make lasting changes to your government, however. It starts with educating and winning the hearts and minds of your society as a whole, and showing them the options available. Fear and ignorance are the only way to breed real injustice.

Government and Freedom of Choice are not mutually exclusive concepts. We can and do achieve great things as a society by fostering responsible government. And no human society can operate long without some form of governance, no matter how participatory. Humans need defined guidelines and methodology to foster better cooperation with one another. That’s what we opt in to, and how we opt into it. Those that refuse to live by a society’s standards, right or wrong, are known as criminals.

The rest is just rules and how determined we are to stick to the letter of each rule in the face of great societal demand for change. And any responsible government has tools in place to make those changes as painless as possible. Only irresponsible governments refuse to acknowledge their society’s demands, and in this day and age, such governments generally don’t last long.

Time to get to work. Thank you for reading.


Don't be shy. Tell me what you really think, now.


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