Demo, the people. Kratos, power.”
Americans love to say we believe in the fundamental goodness of democracy. That we are proud to have been one of the first modern democracies. That our representative form of government is the best of all possible forms. That it is a fundamental goodness that the Pax America spreads democracy throughout the world.
But we also have an electorate (the group of people who are eligible to vote) with one of the lowest rates of participation in the world.
Helping guide how our towns, our states, and our nation is governed is one of our essential responsibilities as citizens. But many of us act like spoiled sons of privilege, letting someone else attend to the essential tasks. Yes, we are in a representative democracy, which means that instead of being directly involved, we are trusting a representative. But when we don’t do the due diligence of actually screening that representative, trusting instead to vague impressions or name recognition, we are in fact doing our part to continue the sort of nepotism and cronyism we claim to oppose.
We talk about “a jury of our peers,” but when we don’t make provision for jurors being compensated for their time, we create a system where only those with leisure and privilege sit on juries. We are seeding the jury pool with privileged viewpoints, and ceding justice.
When we shy away from difficult discussions at gatherings, we allow friends and family to vote and judge based on viewpoints that will continue the systemic injustice we are surrounded by.
I get asked, constantly, “but what can I do?”
You can decide how much time justice and oversight get in your life. You can push for reforms to voting systems. You can push for fair pay for jurors. You can push for a universal stipend for study time for ballot issues. You can push for more transparency and public discussion of ballot issues. You can push for better access to polling places.
And if you can’t do it personally, find someone else who can, that you trust. And/or pay an organization that works for those issues.
Because some of us don’t have that time. Some of us are working too many hours to try to make ends meet. Some of us have barely enough endurance to make it through each day. Some of us are unable to vote.
But none of us can really afford to ignore the issue. Except for the few that this current system works for.