There is a misunderstanding, promulgated by Glenn Beck, 9/12ers and others seeking to restrict the interests of the majority to favor the few, that the terms “republic” and “democracy” are mutually exclusive. In fact, the terms were often used interchangeably by our Founding Fathers. Almost no one, including our distinguished forefathers, has advocated for pure democracy; it is simply not practical outside small groups of people. So, it is important to be clear when we talk about democracy that we are referring to the dictionary definition, which also happens to be the way most people understand the term, and the way most of us wish to form our government:
De-moc-ra-cy [from the Greek, meaning “rule of the people”]:
1. a : government by, the people, directly or through representatives; especially : rule of the majority.
b : a government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections.
2. a political unit that has such government.
3. the common people especially when constituting the source of political authority.
4. the absence of hereditary or arbitrary class distinctions or privileges. Equality of rights, opportunity, and treatment.
In short, a democracy should be, as Lincoln stated, “A government of the people, by the people, and for the people.” Our Florida state constitution states it plainly enough in Article 1, Section 1: “All political power is inherent in the people.”
One of the greatest threats to a democratic republic is when factions are able to act against the will of the majority. This is why George Washington belonged to no party, and famously warned against them. Our two-party system, cemented in place by anti-democratic election laws, acts against the interest of the majority by shutting out other parties or individuals, by not allowing the best candidates to come forward, and by manufacturing consent through emotionally potent advertising and propaganda. If a mommy offers her two-year-old broccoli and spinach, but doesn’t tell Johnny about ice cream, the toddler will choose the lesser of two dislikes. The little fellow may be a little grumpy, but otherwise he’ll be none the wiser. Except for not having our best interests at heart, our two parties treat us all like little Johnny, forcing us to choose the lesser of two evils, while distracting us from the knowledge we are not being treated the way we would demand to be treated if we knew all the facts.
The candidates offered by the two parties are two sides of the same coin. Neither candidate has any idea how to fix the current problems within the dysfunctional system we have in place. “Cutting taxes,” “creating jobs,” or “cracking down on illegal immigration” are slogans that ignore the deeper issues and solutions to the systemic problems that remain, no matter which party is in power. To eliminate corruption we have to take money and campaign propaganda out of the equation through highly limited and regulated private campaign financing. To end the divisiveness and polarization of the blatantly unfair two-party duopoly we need to have a representative democracy that replaces the winner-take-all system with ranked choice voting that guarantees majority winners and proportional representation. This will eliminate spoilers, gerrymanders, vote strategizing, and it will activate most apathetic voters. I don’t belong to any political party because I believe we can solve Florida’s problems together, and we can make our bloated and inefficient government become truly of, by and for the people. For the sake of our democracy, please vote Michael E. Arth for governor on November second.