Let us declare Election Day a national holiday, a day of civic duty freed from commerce for all citizens. On that day each year, in addition to electing our representatives, let all citizens (yes, all) cast four votes. The first vote, as a sign of support for our chosen form of governance, would be to endorse the Constitution of the United States of America; consider it a pledge of allegiance, if you will. The second vote would likewise be for one’s state constitution. If more than one-third of citizens disapprove of our democratic institutions enshrined in the federal and state constitutions, let a constitutional convention be held to address the changes necessary that we may be a cohesive, well-functioning civil society. Every generation would cast their vote and pledge their support for the government we co-operate within.
The third and fourth items on the annual ballot would ratify the legislative work of the federal and state governments for the year. Legislation duly passed by the legislative branch and signed by the executive branch would be put before the citizens for an up or down vote. A simple majority vote would ratify the work of our representatives and pass it into law; or, send them back to try again. To begin a legislative session, citizens would grant authority to representatives to represent them and then ratify the representatives’ efforts to conclude. Our permission and approval would begin and end the yearly legislative cycle.
Currently, those we elect act as unequal entities in American democracy. Winners, known as the majority party, exercise the privilege to impose their will. Losers, known as the minority party, attack, obstruct, or plot for the next election cycle. When competition, victory, and defeat become the defining principles of a supposedly democratic society based on the values of freedom, liberty, equality, and justice for all, it is proper to reflect on the meanings and roles of the terms majority, minority, and equality.
The purpose of the so-called ‘majority’ is to stabilize us in the present. The majority is a conservative force (a course of action, not a party) meant to promote the common good, to slow our impulses, and to provide for continuity, stability, and predictable futures. The majority is like the rudder of a ship sailing in a dark night. Without a steady majority, democracy becomes fractious and disintegrates. However, if the so-called majority becomes zealous, and attempts to suppress the minority, demands for conformity, even uniformity and homogeneity, ensue. These demands are enforced through economic and physical coercion, detention, and deportation. Such power negates liberty; that is, the freedom from oppression. You will recognize the enemies of democracy by their craving for military and economic power.
The purpose of the so-called ‘minority’ is to oversee the protection of our individual freedoms, to ensure the pursuit of happiness and self-interest, and to promote our evolution into the future. The minority is a liberal force (again, a course of action, not a party) responsible for pointing out our civic weak spots and advocating new solutions. The minority is like the wind in the sails of our ship and the light upon the bow. Without a vibrant minority, democracy becomes stagnant and dies into totalitarianism. However, if the so-called minority becomes zealous, instability, chaos, and anarchy ensue. Violence becomes a means to an end. Beware, some anarchists are better dressed than others. You will recognize them by their hatred of government.
Due to the modern connotations of these words, ‘majority’ as ‘superior winners’ and ‘minority’ as ‘inferior losers,’ I hope they will soon fall out of favor as repugnant descriptions. In the meantime, keep in mind, neither entity, majority or minority, are monoliths nor can they be subsumed one into the other and disappear. Equality can never equate to uniformity or homogeneity. Nor can anarchy provide the stability necessary for true freedom and equality to exist. We need both the stability of equality and a cooperative freedom in order to reach our highest potential. Sadly however, there are people in our country who consider domination, power, greed, and violence as legitimate means to achieve the end of freedom and equality.
A stable equality and cooperative freedom cannot be achieved in a society of competition, profit, debt, poverty, wealth, and the power differentials which follow. There is a natural inequality among beings who lack access to daily sunlight, fresh water, fertile soil, and cooperative relationships. Unnatural inequality occurs when adequate resources are over-consumed by some and competitively withheld, with weapons and money, from everyone else. This inequality human beings call ‘injustice.’ Only those raised in a state of unnatural inequality would perceive sharing as loss and hoarding as success. In America, many, but not all, of our elders, children, women, persons of color (both American-born and those born elsewhere), same-sex partners, persons in material poverty, and persons with differing physical/cognitive abilities are equal only in their lack of access to security, resources, and rights as compared to a minority of people of privilege, power and wealth.
God freely gives all matter, energy, courage, compassion, and wisdom necessary for us to participate in the web of life. We are meant to share these gifts freely as well. Indeed, you are a gift meant to enhance Life and Love for all of God’s Creation. If we are to be one nation, of equal citizenship, and inalienable human rights, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all, we must change some aspects of our culture. If we cannot cooperate in our freedom, share in our equality, and mutually uplift a stable majority and a vibrant minority, then we undermine our nation, our society, our communities, relationships, and the health of the planet and all those who depend on it, including us. We have much work to do. Please put your shoulder to the plow and join a quiet revolution of the heart.