The charismatically outspoken Winston Churchill once candidly remarked: “It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried.”
The statement could not ring more prophetic to today’s American voter given the virtual partisan gridlock currently gripping the nation’s capital and, to a greater extent, the very legal foundation of the world’s oldest continuous democracy. The American political system is in disarray. The Republican Party, founded as a moderate and fiscally conservative body, has now become the very antithesis of what its founder Lincoln had intended ruled by neoconservatives and TV personalities. The Democratic Party, although more diverse in ideas and in its base, is in danger of losing its supermajority in Congress because of the same ideological discord that has plagued it for decades. Issues are no longer issues but identifiers of party lines. Don’t tell me a Republican cannot be both conservative and an activist for climate change legislation and the same for a liberal who is pro-life.
The very nature or novelty of the very idea of a democracy is, in itself, an anomaly. Aristotle defined it as “mob rule” and the recent unjust, draconian anti-immigrant bill recently passed in Arizona gives perhaps great credence to such a characterization.
Despite what we Americans are taught from the womb until we perish, the will of the majority in a democracy is neither always just nor fair. In the pre-Civil Rights era, minorities were virtually excluded from a chance at the elusive “American Dream.” Certain political and social actors, such as Dr. Martin Luther King to John F. Kennedy to Dorothy Height, championed the cause for human rights and the dignity of all regardless of race, gender, or sexual orientation bringing the unheard voices of millions to the hallowed corridors of the Capitol where legislation brought an end to decades of wrongdoing and hardship.
Even amidst the chaos, our democracy remains the cornerstone of our social fabric. The will of the people is still honored as witnessed through the recent historic passage of health care reform legislation and the soon to be financial and immigration reform overhaul.
As I write this being my final political column for The Hurricane, I urge my fellow students to continue to work for human rights, inform themselves on the most pressing issues facing our generation and, most importantly, continue the great work of those who came before us so that we do not move backwards as a people, but progressively forward towards a more fairer society for all.
One that would honor even old Churchill’s legendary satire.
Daniel Medina is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism and political science. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.