Care and Feeding of a Democracy

I ask the help of readers to distribute this open letter to education bureaucrats at every level from the Federal Cabinet Secretary to each District Superintendent.

Dear Educationist:

We live in a democracy. It is not in good shape today and it shows the characteristics of a plutocracy more than a democracy. Ranking last among the twenty-eight developed democracies, only forty-seven percent of eligible voters actually vote; fifty-three percent, a majority, feel the government doesn’t listen to them or involve itself in their day-to-day lives.

Why is that? The current parties don’t help; they are awash in career protection, political gaming, and allow money to control the perspective of legislation. Nondemocratic processes like gerrymandering and tilting the judicial branch to be politically opinionated doesn’t help either.

This abusive behavior is allowed because many, perhaps a majority of citizens, don’t know how to manage a democracy. Yet the government is owned by the citizens. Imagine the impact of an election where one hundred percent – not forty-seven percent – voted. Imagine if voters knew how to promote referendums. Imagine if more citizens understood the importance of attending local political events – even a school board meeting!

Citizens feel the indifference but don’t know how to change the situation.

It is strongly suggested, indeed intensely advocated, that Civics be taught in every primary and secondary school; a required part of the curriculum. The program should not be based on history as much as how to manage a democracy. True, in the United States the Constitution is important but how does a student work through church versus state, civil liberties, Roe v Wade, the impact of simple tax effects, precedent law, etc. It may be better to have lab projects as the major part of the subject; this would allow actual human impact as part of the learning experience.

Your advocacy and implementation of civics classes is greatly needed to restore our democracy to a healthy state.

Ancient Mariner


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