The Need To Recapture & Rekindle Americans’ Faith In Democracy
Dear Friends & Neighbors,
(Please click on red links & note magenta)
According to a new poll commissioned by former President George W. Bush and former Vice President Joe Biden, 50% of Americans believe America is in “real danger of becoming a nondemocratic, authoritarian country” and 8 out of 10 Americans either is “very concerned” or “somewhat concerned” about the condition of U.S. democracy, meaning majority of the Americans believe that our democracy is in decline. In the video below, Donny Deutsch, Chairman and Former CEO of Deutsch Inc., points out why American people should be paying attention and stand up to what is to come. In the name of national security, the current president may make any decision he wants, regardless what the founding principles of America, regardless the check and balance system, regardless the importance of free press. Deutsch is saddened but not surprised by the poll result. Former FBI Assistant Director For Counterintelligence Frank Figliuzzi is also very concerned with President Trump’s assertion that “we may not need judges in courts to handle the disposition of cases at the border.” and the fact that Sarah Huckabee Sanders was saying that “there is different kinds of due process and you don’t need to necessarily go through the court system for due process” from her podium. This reflects that we’re on the slippery slope being away from our democracy such that some people are not getting to the court system. America is a nation of laws and it is all about the court system where objective hearings take place. The Time magazine columnist Elise Jordan commented that Trump has been given sufficient chance and now is realizing people’s worst fears: sliding toward authoritarianism, rampant corruptions, nepotism with his own family, and Russian investigation swirling.
Former Republican Strategist Steve Schmidt also believes that (in italics), “This is a time in history when liberal democracy around the world is rolling back. In Hungary and Poland, there is the rise of far right Ethno-Nationalist Parties in Germany, in Austria. He also commented that fascism did not rise in the 30’s because it was strong. It rose because democracy was weak. Vladimir Putin‘s greatest strategic aim is to break up the western alliance and to cause a crisis of faith in democracy. The lubricant of a democratic society are: trust, faith, and belief. Every day, Donald Trump attacks trust, faith, and belief in our institution with his assaults on rule of law. What creates a democratic society is rule of law where minorities are protected from the majority. When Donald Trump is attacking freedom of the press, the First Amendment, institution of fairness, and judicial system. This is cause to worry….”
So, allow me to share some thoughts and speeches by two former U.S. Presidents, below:
“It’s good to be home. My fellow Americans, Michelle and I have been so touched by all the well-wishes we’ve received over the past few weeks. But tonight it’s my turn to say thanks. Whether we’ve seen eye-to-eye or rarely agreed at all, my conversations with you, the American people – in living rooms and schools; at farms and on factory floors; at diners and on distant outposts – are what have kept me honest, kept me inspired, and kept me going. Every day, I learned from you. You made me a better president, and you made me a better man. I first came to Chicago when I was in my early 20’s, still trying to figure out who I was; still searching for a purpose to my life. It was in neighborhoods not far from here where I began working with church groups in the shadows of closed steel mills. It was on these streets where I witnessed the power of faith, and the quiet dignity of working people in the face of struggle and loss. This is where I learned that change only happens when ordinary people get involved, get engaged, and come together to demand it.
After eight years as your President, I still believe that. And it’s not just my belief. It’s the beating heart of our American idea, our bold experiment in self-government. It’s the conviction that we are all created equal, endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights, among them, life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness. It’s the insistence that these rights, while self-evident, have never been self-executed. That we, the people, through the instrument of our democracy, can form a more perfect union. What a radical idea! The great gift, that our founders gave to us. The freedom to chase our individual dreams through our sweat and toil and imagination and the imperative to strive together as well, to achieve a common greater good. For two hundred forty years, our nation calls to citizenship, has given work and purpose to each new generation. It’s what led patriots to organize. choose republic over tyranny, pioneers to track West, slaves to brave that makeshift railroad to freedom. It’s what pulled immigrants and refugees across oceans and the Rio Grande. It’s what pushed women to reach for the ballot. It’s what powered workers to organize. It’s why GI’s gave their lives on Omaha Beach and Iwo Jima., Iraq and Afghanistan. And why men and women from Selma to Stonewall were prepared to give theirs as well. So, that’s what we mean when we say America is exceptional. Not that our nation has been flawless from the start, but that we have shown the capacity to change and make lives better for those who follow. Yes, our progress has been uneven. The work of democracy has always been hard. It’s always been contentious. Sometimes it’s been bloody. For every two steps forward, it often feels we’ve taken one step back.But the long sweep of America has been defined by forward motion, a constant widening of our founding creed to embrace all, and not just some. If I told you eight years ago that America would reverse a great recession, reboot our auto industry, and unleash the longest stretch of job creations in our history, if I had told you we would open up a new chapter with Cuban people, shut down Iran’s nuclear weapons program without firing a shot, take out the master mind of 9/11…if I had told you that we would win the marriage equality and secure the right to health insurance for another twenty millions of our fellow citizens. If I told you all of that, you might have said that our sights were set a little too high. But that’s what we did. That’s what you did. You were the change. You answered people’s hopes. And because of you, by almost every measure, America is a better, stronger place than it was when we started. In ten days, the world will witness the hallmark of our democracy, the peaceful transfer of power from one freely elected president to the next. I’m committed to President-Elect Trump that my administration would ensure the smoothest possible transition, just as President Bush did for me. Because it is up to all of us to make sure that our government can help us to meet the many challenges that we still face. We have what we need to do so. We have everything we need to meet those challenges. After all, we remain the wealthiest, most powerful, and most respected nation on earth. Our youth, our drive, our diversity, our openness, our boundless capacity for risk and reinventions means that the future should be ours. But that potential will only be realized if our democracy works. Only if our politics better reflects the decency of our people. Only if all of us, regardless of party affiliation or particular interests help restore the sense of common purpose that we so badly need right now. That’s what I want to focus on tonight, the state of our democracy. Understand that democracy does not require uniformity. Our Founders, they argued and quarreled. Eventually they compromised. They expected us to do the same. But they knew that democracy does require a basic sense of solidarity. The idea that for all of our outward differences, we’re all in this together. We will rise and fall as one. There had been moments throughout our history that threatened that solidarity. In the beginning of this century has been one of those times, a shrinking world, growing inequality, demographic change, and specter of terrorists. These forces hasn’t just tested our security and prosperity, but are testing our democracy as well. And how we meet these challenges toward our democracy will determine our ability to educate our kids and create good jobs and protect our homeland. In other words, it will determine our future. To begin with, our democracy won’t work without a sense that every one has economic opportunity. And the good news is: today the economy is growing again. Wages, incomes, home values, and retirement accounts are all rising again. Poverty is falling again. The wealthy are paying their fairer share of taxes even as the stock market shatters records. The unemployment rate is near a 10-year low. The uninsured rate has never, ever been lower. Healthcare costs are rising at the slowest rate in 50 years. And if anyone can put together a plan that is demonstrably better than the improvements we’ve made to our healthcare system – that covers as many people at less cost – I will publicly support it. That, after all, is why we serve – to make people’s lives better, not worse. But for all the real progress we’ve made, we know it’s not enough. Our economy doesn’t work as well or grow as fast when a few prosper at the expense of a growing middle class. But stark inequality is also corrosive to our democratic principles. While the top 1% has amassed a bigger share of wealth and income, too many families, in inner cities and rural counties, have been left behind – the laid-off factory worker; the waitress and healthcare worker who struggle to pay the bills – convinced that the game is fixed against them, that their government only serves the interests of the powerful – a recipe for more cynicism and polarization in our politics. There are no quick fixes to this long-term trend. I agree that our trade should be fair and not just free. But the next wave of economic dislocation won’t come from overseas. It will come from the relentless pace of automation that makes many good, middle-class jobs obsolete. And so we must forge a new social compact – to guarantee all our kids the education they need; to give workers the power to unionize for better wages; to update the social safety net to reflect the way we live now and make more reforms to the tax code so corporations and individuals who reap the most from the new economy don’t avoid their obligations to the country that’s made their success possible. We can argue about how to best achieve these goals. But we can’t be complacent about the goals themselves. For if we don’t create opportunity for all people, the disaffection and division that has stalled our progress will only sharpen in years to come. There’s a second threat to our democracy – one as old as our nation itself. After my election, there was talk of a post-racial America. Such a vision, however well-intended, was never realistic. For race remains a potent and often divisive force in our society. I’ve lived long enough to know that race relations are better than they were 10, or 20, or 30 years ago – you can see it not just in statistics, but in the attitudes of young Americans across the political spectrum.
But we’re not where we need to be. All of us have more work to do. After all, if every economic issue is framed as a struggle between a hard-working white middle class and undeserving minorities, then workers of all shades will be left fighting for scraps while the wealthy withdraw further into their private enclaves. .If we’re not willing to invest in the children of immigrants just because they don’t look like us, we will diminish the prospects of our own children because those brown kids will represent a larger and larger share of the America’s work force and we have shown that our economy doesn’t have to be a zero sum game. Last year income rose for all races, all age groups, for men and for women. Going forward, we need to uphold laws against discrimination in hiring, housing, education, and criminal justice system. That is what our Constitution and our highest ideal requires. Laws alone won’t be enough. Hearts must change. If our democracy is to work the way it should in this increasingly diverse nation, then each one of us need to try to heed the advice of a great character of American fiction, Aticus Finch, who said, “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view, until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.“
For blacks and other minorities, it means tying our own struggles for justice to the challenges that a lot of people in this country face – the refugee, the immigrant, the rural poor, the transgender American, and also the middle-aged white man who from the outside may seem like he’s got all the advantages, but who’s seen his world upended by economic, cultural, and technological change. For white Americans, it means acknowledging that the effects of slavery and Jim Crow didn’t suddenly vanish in the ’60s; that when minority groups voice discontent, they’re not just engaging in reverse racism or practicing political correctness; that when they wage peaceful protest, they’re not demanding special treatment, but the equal treatment our Founders promised. For native-born Americans, it means reminding ourselves that the stereotypes about immigrants today were said, almost word for word, about the Irish, Italians, and Poles. America wasn’t weakened by the presence of these newcomers; they embraced this nation’s creed, and it was strengthened.
So, regardless what station we occupy, we all have to try harder. We all have to start with the premise that each of our fellow citizens loves this country just as much as we do, that they value hard work and family as just like we do. That their children are just as curious and hopeful and worthy of love as our own. None of this is easy. For too many of us, it’s become safer to retreat into our own bubbles, whether in our neighborhoods or college campuses or places of worship or our social media feeds, surrounded by people who look like us and share the same political outlook and never challenge our assumptions. The rise of naked partisanship, increasing economic and regional stratification, the splintering of our media into a channel for every taste – all this makes this great sorting seem natural, even inevitable. And increasingly, we’ve become so secure in our bubbles that we start to accept only information that fits our opinion, instead of basing our opinions on the evidence that is out there. This trend represents the third threat to our democracy. Politics is a battle of ideas; in the course of a healthy debate, we’ll prioritize different goals, and the different means of reaching them. But without some common baseline of facts; without a willingness to admit new information, and concede that your opponent is making a fair point, and that science and reason matter, we’ll keep talking past each other, making common ground and compromise impossible. Isn’t that part of what makes politics so dispiriting? How can elected officials rage about deficits when we propose to spend money on preschool for kids, but not when we’re cutting taxes for corporations? How do we excuse ethical lapses in our own party, but pounce when the other party does the same thing? It’s not just dishonest, this selective sorting of the facts; it’s self-defeating. Because as my mother used to tell me, reality has a way of catching up with you.
Take the challenge of climate change, in just 8 years, we’ve halved our dependence on foreign oil;we’ve doubled our renewable energy; we’ve led the world to an agreement that has the promise to save this planet. But without bolder actions, our children will not have time to debate the existence of climate change. They’ll be busy dealing with its effects, more environmental disasters, more economic disruptions, waves of climate refugees seeking sanctuary. We can and should argue about the best approach to solve the problem. But to simply deny the problem, not only betrays future generations, it betrays the essential spirit of this country, the essential spirit of innovation and practical problem solving that guided our Founders. It is that spirit born of the enlightenment that made us an economic powerhouse, the spirit that took flight at Kittyhawk and Cape Canaveral, the spirit that cures disease and put a computer into every pocket. It’s that spirit, a faith in reason, and enterprise and the primacy of right over might that allowed us to resist the allure of Fascism and tyranny during the Great Depression. It allowed us to build a post-WWII order with other democracies, an order based not just on military power or national affiliations but built on principles, the rule of law, human rights, freedom of religion and speech and assembly and independent press. That order is now being challenged, first by violent fanatics who claims to speak for Islam, more recently by autocrats in foreign capitals who see free markets, open democracy, and civil society itself as a threat to their power. The peril each poses toward our democracy is more far reaching than a car bomb or a missile. They represent the fear of change, the fear of people who look, or speak, or pray differently, a contempt for the rule of law that holds leaders accountable, an intolerance of descent and free thought, a belief that the sword or the gun or the bomb or the propaganda machine is the ultimate arbiter of what’s true and what’s right. Because of the extraordinary courage of our men and women in uniforms, because of our intelligence officers and law enforcement and diplomats who support our troops, no foreign terrorist organization has successfully planned and executed an attack on our homeland these past eight years. And although Boston and Orlando and San Bernardino and Ft. Hood remind us how dangerous radicalization can be. Our law enforcement agency has been more effective and vigilant than ever. We have taken out tens of thousands of terrorists, including Osama Bin Laden. The global coalition we’re leading against ISIL has taken out their leaders, and taken away about half their territory. ISIL will be destroyed, and no one who threatens America will ever be safe. And all who serve or have served, it’s been the honor of my life to have been your commander in chief. We all owe you a deep debt of gratitude. But protecting our way of life is not just the job for our military. Democracy can buckle, when it gives in to fear. So just as we, as citizens, must remain vigilant against external aggression. We must guard against a weakening of the values that make us who we are. And that’s why for the past eight years I’ve worked to put the fight against terrorism on a firmer legal footing. That’s why we ended torture, worked to close Gitmo, reformed our laws governing surveillance to protect privacy and civil liberties. That’s why I reject discrimination against Muslim Americans who are just as patriotic as we are. That’s why we cannot withdraw from big global fights to expand democracy and human rights and women’s rights and LBGT rights. No matter how imperfect our efforts, no matter how expedient ignoring such values may seem, that’s part of defending America. For the fight against extremism and intolerance and sectarianism and chauvinism, are of a piece with the fight against authoritarianism and nationalistic aggression. If the scope of freedom and respect for the rule of law shrinks around the world, the likelihood of war within and between nations increases. And our own freedom will eventually be threatened. So, let’s be vigilant and not afraid. ISIL will try to kill innocent people. But they cannot defeat America unless we betray our Constitution and our principles in the fight. Rivals like Russia or China cannot match our influence around the world – unless we give up what we stand for, and turn ourselves into just another big country that bullies smaller neighbors. Which brings me to my final point – our democracy is threatened whenever we take it for granted. All of us, regardless of party, should throw ourselves into the task of rebuilding our democratic institutions. When voting rates are some of the lowest among advanced democracies, we should make it easier, not harder, to vote. When trust in our institutions is low, we should reduce the corrosive influence of money in our politics, and insist on the principles of transparency and ethics in public service. When Congress is dysfunctional, we should draw our districts to encourage politicians to cater to common sense and not rigid extremes. And all of this depends on our participation; on each of us accepting the responsibility of citizenship, regardless of which way the pendulum of power swings. Our Constitution is a remarkable, beautiful gift. But it’s really just a piece of parchment. It has no power on its own. We, the people, give it power – with our participation, and the choices we make. Whether or not we stand up for our freedoms. Whether or not we respect and enforce the rule of law. America is no fragile thing. But the gains of our long journey to freedom are not assured. In his own farewell address, George Washington wrote that self-government is the underpinning of our safety, prosperity, and liberty, but “from different causes and from different quarters much pains will be taken…to weaken in your minds the conviction of this truth;” that we should preserve it with “jealous anxiety;” that we should reject “the first dawning of every attempt to alienate any portion of our country from the rest or to enfeeble the sacred ties” that make us one. We weaken those ties when we allow our political dialogue to become so corrosive that people of good character are turned off from public service; so coarse with rancor that Americans with whom we disagree are not just misguided, but somehow malevolent. We weaken those ties when we define some of us as more American than others; when we write off the whole system as inevitably corrupt, and blame the leaders we elect without examining our own role in electing them. It falls to each of us to be those anxious, jealous guardians of our democracy; to embrace the joyous task we’ve been given to continually try to improve this great nation of ours. Because for all our outward differences, we all share the same proud title: Citizen. Ultimately, that’s what our democracy demands. It needs you. Not just when there’s an election, not just when your own narrow interest is at stake, but over the full span of a lifetime. If you’re tired of arguing with strangers on the Internet, try to talk with one in real life. If something needs fixing, lace up your shoes and do some organizing. If you’re disappointed by your elected officials, grab a clipboard, get some signatures, and run for office yourself. Show up. Dive in. Persevere. Sometimes you’ll win. Sometimes you’ll lose. Presuming a reservoir of goodness in others can be a risk, and there will be times when the process disappoints you. But for those of us fortunate enough to have been a part of this work, to see it up close, let me tell you, it can energize and inspire. And more often than not, your faith in America – and in Americans – will be confirmed. Mine sure has been. Over the course of these eight years, I’ve seen the hopeful faces of young graduates and our newest military officers. I’ve mourned with grieving families searching for answers, and found grace in a Charleston church. I’ve seen our scientists help a paralyzed man regain his sense of touch, and our wounded warriors walk again. I’ve seen our doctors and volunteers rebuild after earthquakes and stop pandemics in their tracks. I’ve seen the youngest of children remind us of our obligations to care for refugees, to work in peace, and above all to look out for each other. That faith I placed all those years ago, not far from here, in the power of ordinary Americans to bring about change – that faith has been rewarded in ways I couldn’t possibly have imagined. I hope yours has, too. Some of you here tonight or watching at home were there with us in 2004, in 2008, in 2012 – and maybe you still can’t believe we pulled this whole thing off. You’re not the only ones. Michelle – for the past 25 years, you’ve been not only my wife and mother of my children, but my best friend. You took on a role you didn’t ask for and made it your own with grace and grit and style and good humor. You made the White House a place that belongs to everybody. And a new generation sets its sights higher because it has you as a role model. You’ve made me proud. You’ve made the country proud. Malia and Sasha, under the strangest of circumstances, you have become two amazing young women, smart and beautiful, but more importantly, kind and thoughtful and full of passion. You wore the burden of years in the spotlight so easily. Of all that I’ve done in my life, I’m most proud to be your dad. To Joe Biden, the scrappy kid from Scranton who became Delaware’s favorite son: You were the first choice I made as a nominee, and the best. Not just because you have been a great vice president, but because in the bargain, I gained a brother. We love you and Jill like family, and your friendship has been one of the great joys of our life. To my remarkable staff: For eight years – and for some of you, a whole lot more – I’ve drawn from your energy, and tried to reflect back what you displayed every day: heart, and character, and idealism. I’ve watched you grow up, get married, have kids, and start incredible new journeys of your own. Even when times got tough and frustrating, you never let Washington get the better of you. The only thing that makes me prouder than all the good we’ve done is the thought of all the remarkable things you’ll achieve from here. And to all of you out there – every organizer who moved to an unfamiliar town and kind family who welcomed them in, every volunteer who knocked on doors, every young person who cast a ballot for the first time, every American who lived and breathed the hard work of change – you are the best supporters and organizers anyone could hope for, and I will forever be grateful. Because, yes, you changed the world. That’s why I leave this stage tonight even more optimistic about this country than I was when we started. Because I know our work has not only helped so many Americans; it has inspired so many Americans – especially so many young people out there – to believe you can make a difference; to hitch your wagon to something bigger than yourselves. This generation coming up – unselfish, altruistic, creative, patriotic – I’ve seen you in every corner of the country. You believe in a fair, just, inclusive America; you know that constant change has been America’s hallmark, something not to fear but to embrace, and you are willing to carry this hard work of democracy forward. You’ll soon outnumber any of us, and I believe as a result that the future is in good hands. My fellow Americans, it has been the honor of my life to serve you. I won’t stop; in fact, I will be right there with you, as a citizen, for all my days that remain. For now, whether you’re young or young at heart, I do have one final ask of you as your president – the same thing I asked when you took a chance on me eight years ago. I am asking you to believe. Not in my ability to bring about change – but in yours. I am asking you to hold fast to that faith written into our founding documents; that idea whispered by slaves and abolitionists; that spirit sung by immigrants and homesteaders and those who marched for justice; that creed reaffirmed by those who planted flags from foreign battlefields to the surface of the moon; a creed at the core of every American whose story is not yet written:
Yes We Can.
Yes We Did.
Yes We Can.
Thank you. God bless you. And may God continue to bless the United States of America.”
Both Republican and Democrat Presidents, on the same page, urging the American public to protect our democracy, reaffirming our identity, in 3 videos from Oct., 2017, below:
Excerpt on the topic of democracy, from wikipedia, in italics, below:
Democracy (Greek: δημοκρατία dēmokraa thetía, literally “rule by people”), in modern usage, has three senses all for a system of government where the citizens exercise power by voting. In a direct democracy, the citizens as a whole form a governing body, and vote directly on each issue, e.g. on the passage of a particular tax law. In a representative democracy the citizens elect representatives from among themselves. These representative meet to form a governing body, such as a legislature. In a constitutional democracy the powers of the majority are exercised within the fremework of a representative democracy, but the constitution limits the majority and protects the minority, usually through the enjoyment by all of certain individual rights, e.g. freedom of speech, or freedom of association. Democracy is sometimes referred to as “rule of the majority”. Democracy is a system of processing conflicts in which outcomes depend on what participants do, but no single force controls what occurs and its outcomes.
The uncertainty of outcomes is inherent in democracy, which makes all forces struggle repeatedly for the realization of their interests, being the devolution of power from a group of people to a set of rules. Western democracy, as distinct from that which existed in pre-modern societies, is generally considered to have originated in city-states such as Classical Athens and the Roman Republic, where various schemes and degrees of enfranchisement of the free male population were observed before the form disappeared in the West at the beginning of late antiquity. The English word dates to the 16th century, from the older Middle French and Middle Latin equivalents.
According to American political scientist Larry Diamond, democracy consists of four key elements: a political system for choosing and replacing the government through free and fair elections; the active participation of the people, as citizens, in politics and civic life; protection of the human rights of all citizens; a rule of law, in which the laws and procedures apply equally to all citizens.
The term appeared in the 5th century BC to denote the political systems then existing in Greek city-states, notably Athens, to mean “rule of the people”, in contrast to aristocracy (ἀριστοκρατία, aristokratía), meaning “rule of an elite”. While theoretically these definitions are in opposition, in practice the distinction has been blurred historically. The political system of Classical Athens, for example, granted democratic citizenship to free men and excluded slaves and women from political participation. In virtually all democratic governments throughout ancient and modern history, democratic citizenship consisted of an elite class, until full enfranchisement was won for all adult citizens in most modern democracies through the suffrage movements of the 19th and 20th centuries.
Democracy contrasts with forms of government where power is either held by an individual, as in an absolute monarchy, or where power is held by a small number of individuals, as in an oligarchy. Nevertheless, these oppositions, inherited from Greek philosophy, are now ambiguous because contemporary governments have mixed democratic, oligarchic and monarchic elements. Karl Popper defined democracy in contrast to dictatorship or tyranny, thus focusing on opportunities for the people to control their leaders and to oust them without the need for a revolution
The oldest known existence of a democratic kingdom (Ganarajya) where king was chosen by people’s votes can be traced way back in 599 BC at Vajji, Vaishali in ancient India. It was the birthplace of 24th and last Tirthankara in Jainism, named Mahavira.The term “democracy” first appeared in ancient Greek political and philosophical thought in the city-state of Athens during classical antiquity. The word comes from demos, “common people” and kratos, strength. Led by Cleisthenes, Athenians established what is generally held as the first democracy in 508–507 BC. Cleisthenes is referred to as “the father of Athenian democracy.”
Athenian democracy took the form of a direct democracy, and it had two distinguishing features: the random selection of ordinary citizens to fill the few existing government administrative and judicial offices, and a legislative assembly consisting of all Athenian citizens. All eligible citizens were allowed to speak and vote in the assembly, which set the laws of the city state. However, Athenian citizenship excluded women, slaves, foreigners (μέτοικοι / métoikoi), non-landowners, and men under 20 years of age. The exclusion of large parts of the population from the citizen body is closely related to the ancient understanding of citizenship. In most of antiquity the benefit of citizenship was tied to the obligation to fight war campaigns.
Athenian democracy was not only direct in the sense that decisions were made by the assembled people, but also the most direct in the sense that the people through the assembly, boule and courts of law controlled the entire political process and a large proportion of citizens were involved constantly in the public business. Even though the rights of the individual were not secured by the Athenian constitution in the modern sense (the ancient Greeks had no word for “rights”), the Athenians enjoyed their liberties not in opposition to the government but by living in a city that was not subject to another power and by not being subjects themselves to the rule of another person.
Range voting appeared in Sparta as early as 700 BC. The Apella was an assembly of the people, held once a month, in which every male citizen of at least 30 years of age could participate. In the Apella, Spartans elected leaders and cast votes by range voting and shouting. Aristotle called this “childish”, as compared with the stone voting ballots used by the Athenians. Sparta adopted it because of its simplicity, and to prevent any bias voting, buying, or cheating that was predominant in the early democratic elections.
Even though the Roman Republic contributed significantly to many aspects of democracy, only a minority of Romans were citizens with votes in elections for representatives. The votes of the powerful were given more weight through a system of gerrymandering, so most high officials, including members of the Senate, came from a few wealthy and noble families. In addition, the Roman Republic was the first government in the western world to have a Republic as a nation-state, although it didn’t have much of a democracy. The Romans invented the concept of classics and many works from Ancient Greece were preserved. Additionally, the Roman model of governance inspired many political thinkers over the centuries, and today’s modern representative democracies imitate more the Roman than the Greek models because it was a state in which supreme power was held by the people and their elected representatives, and which had an elected or nominated leader. Other cultures, such as the Iroquois Nation in the Americas between around 1450 and 1600 AD also developed a form of democratic society before they came in contact with the Europeans. This indicates that forms of democracy may have been invented in other societies around the world.
Gathered, written, and posted by Windermere Sun-Susan Sun Nunamaker
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