Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Secret Ballot - Saving Democracy

The relationship between all the political noise out there and the dysfunctional government we have as a result of that division is something which needs to be spoken about more. But the person who risks saying anything about the polarization gripping the nation is sure to be labelled by one side or the other as a fascist, a communist or a number of other non-politically correct names.

The secret ballot is the underpinning of our system of government. No one can compel you to divulge for whom you cast your vote. At the same time you have freedom of speech which gives you the right to broadcast your political views, and choices, as much as you want to. These are both great principles.

But examine the situation more closely and you will find that when everyone exercises their rights to the utmost in regards to the freedom of speech, it can get so noisy out there that it becomes hard to filter out the noise from the real facts. Division grows among the populace and the elected officials; who are your employees; rejoice. If we can’t agree on how to run the government we sure won’t be firing anyone too soon.

George Washington got it. He spoke about in his farewell address in 1796. We would all due well to read it and heed his words as the increasingly early election season heats up to a fever pitch. The secret ballot is the surest way to quell the noise, and with it the division, in time for some common sense choices in the coming political contests. Don’t ask me for whom I am voting. And don’t call me for any polls; as a patriotic American I won’t be answering.

Here is the pertinent portion of Washington’s Farewell Address;

20 I have already intimated to you the danger of parties in the state, with particular reference to the founding of them on geographical discriminations. Let me now take a more comprehensive view, and warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the spirit of party, generally.

21 This spirit, unfortunately, is inseparable from our nature, having its root in the strongest passions of the human mind. It exists under different shapes in all governments, more or less stifled, controlled, or repressed; but, in those of the popular form, it is seen in its greatest rankness, and is truly their worst enemy.

22 The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries, which result, gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of Public Liberty.

23 Without looking forward to an extremity of this kind, (which nevertheless ought not to be entirely out of sight,) the common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it.

And here is a link to the entire address, which is still worth reading over 200 years later. If you have never read it you may consider yourself at a loss;

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