Is American Democracy A Fleeting Dream?
The Houston Peace and Justice Center (HPJC) is concerned about the status of democracy in America, as are millions of people throughout our country and indeed the world.
With the election of a President whose actions promote his own interests and that of the rich, we are seeing the polarization of Americans in historic proportions. We wonder when or if civility and concern for the common good can ever be possible.
We have a Congress dominated by the power of the influential rich in order to make themselves richer. Our Supreme Court is willing to make rulings which undermine our democracy , e.g. Citizens United. With the current administration’s ability to nominate new Supreme Court judges whose ideology leans to the religious right, we fear the balance of power is shifting to exclude protections for the common man and, especially, the poorest and most vulnerable in our society. We wonder if our democracy will be able to withstand the imbalance.
It seems the deck is being stacked in favor of the rich and powerful over ordinary citizens and the most vulnerable in our society, including our children. Last year basic healthcare was within reach of more people and fewer Americans were uninsured, yet we are now faced with the erosion of even the most basic healthcare for our poorest citizens, our children and elderly.
Who is driving the public attitudes and actions toward this increasing imbalance of wealth and power?
Two driving forces are obvious:
– Extremely rich Americans, American corporations, and the politicians who work for them, who seek to increase their power and wealth and promote selfish values that exclude and dehumanize the rest of society.
– Religious leaders who choose their own selfish interests over the poor, the homeless, and the incarcerated, and who are willing to preach a prosperity gospel in order to prosper themselves and gain favor from the already rich and powerful.
Is there hope for the future? Can things really change? YES! What can we do starting today?
– Stay informed! Become aware of forces that work to suppress our democracy such as the gerrymandering of voting districts and efforts to suppress the votes of minorities.
– Vote! Register and vote in every election, because it is only in grass roots politics that real change happens. State and local elections are very important to our democracy. Locally, every vote counts.
– Listen! Engage in dialogue about our future whenever possible. Not talking about politics or religion doesn’t keep the peace, it dumbs us down. If we can learn to listen to each other with respect and understand our differences, we can come to see we are more alike than we are different.
– Get involved! Join a group of activists that promotes democratic values and the common good of the American people. Write a letter, send an email, or phone your congressperson with your expectations on a particular issue. If you are involved, encourage others to be involved as well.
Our democracy can be saved when apathy is replaced by action and we do it together!