An Assembly of Pieces

James Anderson Merritt's piecemeal thoughts and observations, and the occasional attempt to put some of the pieces together.
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All material except cited quotations Copyright (C) 2004-2008 by James Anderson Merritt. All rights reserved.
Saturday, March 18, 2006

There has been a lot of talk about the importance of "democracy" lately -- especially in the sense that our current US government has endorsed the idea of exporting "democracy" to other countries by means of military force.

I think it is worth remembering that democracy is not the end of our form of government. It is only a tool -- a means to the end of securing our individual rights. The Declaration of Independence says as much: secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed, that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its Foundation on such Principles, and organizing its Powers in such Form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
In the quote above, you'll find indirect reference to democracy in the phrase, "Consent of the Governed." The voting that we do as citizens is to demonstrate the public endorsement of various measures or candidates for public office -- primarily the latter, as direct popular government was never the aim of the system that was established by the Founders. Our consent enables and legitimizes our government, but the purpose of the government is to secure our rights.

Try this, the next time you go into a voting booth: Vote consistently with the idea that you are going to protect (secure) your own rights, while not infringing the equal rights of those who do you or other people no harm. See if that makes a difference in how and for whom you vote, or at least in your appreciation of the candidates and issues.


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