The Enemy Within

The world's most powerful country militarily and once its greatest democracy is, tragically, destroying itself from within. I am not a political scientist, but here's my list of democracy destroying choices Americans insist upon, in no particular order:

1. The all volunteer military: removes civic responsibility for war; removes civic debate on wars because few citizens are needed to fight them; removes one of the most powerful forces for social integration between unlike people, forcing Americans to rely upon one another without regard to ethnicity, religion, geographic origin, or sexual preference.

2. Lack of campaign money disclosure: democracy is corrupted by powerful economic forces that buy politicians to do their will, rather than respond to the will of the majority with respect for the minority.

3. Racism: the legacy of slavery destroys the free association with other citizens and places a significant segment of the population at an automatic disadvantage through inferior education, dangerous neighborhoods and exclusion from economic power.

4. Unequal distribution of wealth: we are a capitalist economy, but our capitalism undervalues the labor necessary to produce the products in the economy, giving extraordinary power to those who may have inherited their wealth and to those who produce extraordinary levels of wealth, at the expense of those who are paid lower wages, like teachers, firefighters, police, non-commissioned military, line workers in factories, laborers, etc. according to recent studies, the stagnation in wages and decline in lifestyle is actually reducing the longevity of white males.

5. Unequal distribution of education: after WW II the GI Bill made it possible for men and women who had served to gain an education regardless of economic class, producing decades of economic expansion and the greatest middle class in history. It's the middle class that has propelled the prosperity of the U.S., and it's the availability of education for the masses that enabled the population to become middle class. Notice that after WW II a high school education could enable a worker to find productive work that would enable the worker to live moderately. Education through high school was free. College enabled the average person to achieve even more. Now, at the very time that we are no longer affording an adequate education to the general public at public expense that supports a livelihood, college costs are rising and the lower classes are often excluded due to costs.

6. Firearms: dividing our cities in particular, and producing a frightened population of children that hampers their psychological development, and threatens free speech, the ability of different races and ethnicities to mingle, and public discourse through intimidation.

7. The destruction of unions: Unions were sometimes corrupt for sure, but they represented the common person before employers and helped to equalize the relative power between the owners and workers.

8. Attempts to limit the voting public: including gerrymandering, and attempts to invalidate citizens from voting: the attempt to produce a country where 40% or less of those who choose to vote disproportionately controls elections and political policies. Our democracy has moved toward one person one vote for over a century, and that is now being reversed.

There are other societal ills for sure, including sexism, male dominance in the workforce, discrimination against LGBTQ persons, agism, etc. But my list is my opening thinking about the forces that are so damaging that they are actually destroying the fabric of our democracy.

Your comments, additions, corrections, redirections, and debates are solicited and welcome. No name calling please.

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© 2016 by Rabbi Mark H. Levin.