Lose weight the delicious way...

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

#snOMG! Snow Day Civics Test

Take this quick test.

1)      The USA has what type of government?
2)      Prior to passage of the 17th amendment, who elected Senators?
3)      Who elects your United States Representative?
4)      Who elects the President?
5)      Are you willing to brave the ice and snow to meet your mail carrier at the street?  How much is too much to even consider it?

As events in the Middle East develop, you will hear some disputes regarding democracy in Egypt.  Recently, I heard Chris Matthews say that because of Bush’s freedom agenda, the right should be embracing what is taking place.  But it’s not necessarily as easy as Chris makes it sound.  Democracy without the proper safeguards is a bit like welding without a face shield.  It's a quick way to put something together, but it may blow up in your face.

Our founders were fearful of (direct) democracy.  Democracy in action can be a powder keg because the passion of the masses burns hot.  Have you ever found yourself in a large crowd doing something you would never do in a small group such as yelling, dancing, singing, and booing or maybe even, while under the influence you found yourself becoming violent.  In those moments, we lose ourselves and refrain from using our impulse control.  Our individuality is sacrificed to the group.

As our government was discussed and formed, the founders sought to add buffers and protections to balance the various groups. A democratic republic (answer 1) would be the form, loosely based on the British system which was composed of a King, a House of Lords and a House of Commons.  The “king” in our government would be the president who would be elected by a group of chosen electors, the Electoral College (answer 3).  The House of Lords would become our Senate, whose members would be chosen by the state legislatures (answer 2) and represent the individual states in the Federal Government.  The House of Commons would become our House of Representatives, which would be each citizen’s most direct line to the Federal Government since they were directly elected by the voters (answer 4).

The founders chose to create a government with three branches.  The two houses would form the legislative branch; the president would lead the executive branch, with a judiciary comprising the third branch.  This three branched government with a bi-cameral legislature formed from out of so many states, a structured set of checks and balances was provided in order to maintain the ability to govern in an orderly and peaceful manner.

The checks and balances were a necessary component to prevent tyranny on one hand and anarchy on the other.  Unfortunately, the 17th amendment to the US Constitution in 1913 ended the election of Senators by the legislatures and they are now directly elected by the voters in each state.  This has removed the individual states participation in the federal government and allowed the Federal Government to run roughshod over the states.

By the way, here are your answers in case you missed them earlier.
1)      Democratic Republic
2)      The state legislatures
3)      The constituents of each House district
4)      The Electoral College
5)      Please post your response to this question in the comments section below.

So now we come back to Egypt and the call for democracy.  The fear among many is that Egypt does not have the proper liberal cultural base for democracy and the people may be sacrificed to the masses.  How will democracy exist in the absence of any check on the leadership?  There are many democratic elections held all over the world where the people have no liberty.  Often the leaders, once elected and without restraint, wield that power mercilessly in suppressing opposition.  Even in Egypt, sham elections are held to give the false pretense of democracy.  Our diplomats spent many months and years helping Iraq form a government with its own checks and balances to better ensure the durability of their democracy.  In Iran and Cuba, we can see that massing together in revolt does not necessarily end in democracy.

As we see the masses in Cairo protesting for a new government, we must remember that without the virtues of our system, a democratic Egypt may provide liberty, but how long can they suppress its vices before the people find themselves under another tyranny?  It is not in the United State’s interest to see a friendly, secular tyrant replaced with an un-friendly, Islamist tyrant.

1 comment:

  1. no problem getting to the mailbox here... all we got was rain and about four snowflakes... Living down here in southern comfort!LOL