At the DNC our POTUS gave an amazing, inspiring speech that was complimented by representatives from both parties. Because regardless of how you might feel about Obama, no one can say he isn’t a gifted orator.
But why was his speech so praised? Why did it resonate so well with so many? Why did people feel so uplifted and encouraged?
I know why. I know EXACTLY why.
Because the POTUS reminded us what a democracy is and how it should work. These specific quotes in particular:
- “America has never been about what one person says he’ll do for us. It’s about what can be achieved by us, together, through the hard and slow and sometimes frustrating, but ultimately enduring work of self-government.”
- “Look, we Democrats have always had plenty of differences with the Republican Party, and there’s nothing wrong with that. it’s precisely this contest of ideas that pushes our country forward.”
- “…even when you’re 100 percent right, getting things done requires compromise. That democracy doesn’t work if we constantly demonize each other….”
Yes, Democracy is about compromise. It’s about equal representation. It’s about individual rights and freedom, as well as the collective rights of our communities that make us one nation.
And taxes of course.
America is, without question, the oldest and strongest democracy the world has ever known. Those of us born here can hear the President’s words, describing the best of what we know our country can be, and OF COURSE we loved them; we were raised to love and fight for *that* description of America, it’s in our blood.
But what is so astounding about President Obama’s words isn’t what he said – positive, inspirational, and well delivered it may have been.
What is most astounding to me is that the President of our great democracy actually had to remind us to vote for… democracy. Because the alternative is – literally – authoritarianism.
Authoritarianism is a form of government characterized by strong central power and limited political freedoms.
I can’t believe I’m typing this in 2016 but yes, authoritarianism is an actual threat to democracy right now, this year, in this election, in this century.
Because a large portion of our electorate is advocating things like: Literally tagging people on the no-fly list, banning entry to our country depending upon religion, pulling back all participation in world organizations unless other countries pay for our services, little-to-no due process, and more. And the guy leading that charge has absolutely zero experience in government, politics, nuclear negotiations, peace treaties…
I could go on but I think everyone knows who I am talking about and why he is – literally – the most terrifying and dangerous person to ever run for POTUS (and that’s just according to leaders his own party as of August 8th 2016).
Anyway, my whole point is this:
A fully functional democracy requires *at least* two strong, fully functional parties to represent vast and diverse groups of people. There are issues that divide those parties, issues that are not black and white and that require solutions which fall into complicated gray areas. Our willingness to cooperate, and co-govern, and find good, flexible, and genuine answers to our problems in those gray areas is what made us the oldest, most successful democracy on the planet and the world’s number one super power.
Our government was founded – specifically designed – to succeed via democracy; that which the POTUS described at the DNC and which both parties loved so much.
Many – not most, or all – but many of the reasons our legislative branch of government has seen as low as a 14% approval rating by American voters is because the Republican leaders in Congress absolutely refuse to work with, discuss, compromise, or otherwise even entertain co-governing this country with their Democratic counterparts or the Democratic executive branch.
This is most clearly evidenced by the total flat out refusal of Congress to even so much as entertain the option of voting for Judge Merrick to fill a vacant seat on the SCOTUS. It’s also evidenced by the total lack of discussion on gun reform.
Simply put – Congress won’t do their freakin’ jobs, even though part of their job is specifically to compromise with one another to make us stronger and better. In short: We need to be a whole that is greater than the simple sum of our parts.
Until that happens we will need brilliant orators like the POTUS, Bill Clinton, and more to remind us what democracy is and why we should continue to fight for it. Until we can start to work together we will need people who can paint for us a rosy, perfect picture that might not be obtainable but that can keep us seeking a light at the end of the tunnel.
Or to put it more bluntly – until these assholes decide to work together, we need someone who can give us HOPE that one day they’ll get over themselves and we can actually have a working, productive government again.
I hope my smart, thoughtful, compassionate Republican friends will retake their party from the delusional hatred and complete lack of progress that has engulfed their “base” and join us once again in the gray area of progress.
From this center-left Democrat to those compassionate Republicans, I sincerely say: Please come back. We miss you and need you to get this country back on track.