Does America Really Have A Democracy?
A democracy is literally a government of or by the people. The keyword is people. A democracy isn’t just men, or White people, or Black people, or people who are wealthy and well-connected. A democracy shouldn’t just be only White male leadership overseeing a tax base comprises a beautiful ethnic rainbow of taxpayers. A democracy isn’t a government which excludes people who disagree with the political ideologies of the two major parties in America (Democratic or Republican) or forces them to vote with either party to have a say in how they are governed.
A true democracy is when all people are equally and fairly governed, when all people have the same rights, when all votes carry the same weight, and when there is equal/fair representation across every system. Where there is equality, you’ll find democracy.
A democracy is a government of or by the people. There is nothing exclusive about a democracy and you’re doing it right. We don’t have a real democracy. America is a democracy in name only if you really took the time to think deeply about it. If you’re not a minority or if you’re a Person of Color who “passes” as the majority, it requires you to review American history and forget your privilege for a while. People of Color, understanding the history of America and how their rights have been slowly doled understand exactly what I mean.
Taking the time to research American history will clearly show American democracy is a concept — a theory. It’s a wish — it’s a desire. It’s a concept like the American philosophy of all men being created equal. American history has shown time and time again this nation has never treated all men (or women) equally. Because we all haven’t had equal rights and equal voices in how we have been governed, it’s not possible to have a democracy.
You cannot have a democracy without equality.
America Loves Authoritarianism
America has never been a democracy because not all the people in this “great nation” have been given the opportunity to have a say in (via vote) or work for their local, state, and/or our federal governments.
Because some of a nation’s citizens have been historically deprived of their rights and opportunities to assemble, vote (see the voting rights timeline), serve on boards or juries, own property, etc., it has been impossible for those citizens to fully participate in democratic political associations which would provide them the opportunity to decide how they desire to be governed.
When all citizens are not given the same rights, greater inequalities in wealth and power between communities/populations arise. Such inequitable distributions of rights and/or power lead to inequitable wealth accumulation. America’s original caste systems and racial constructs have encouraged the spread of hierarchical and authoritarian forms of social organizations, governmental institutions, and orders which still exist today.
America has never really been a democracy. We’ve always practiced authoritarianism dressed up and sold to us as democracy. White Supremacy is American authoritarianism. It was instituted upon the founding of America and it’s still alive and well today. Authoritarianism disregards laws and rules, does not respect constitutions, exercises their power arbitrarily, has extreme control over society, is only concerned about a small group of people, and uses lots of modern propaganda to maintain popular support.
Add to this false democracy a capitalistic economy and it’s literally impossible to achieve equality. Corporate America and our local, state, and federal governments are just scavenging the bones and remnants of the dead carcasses left behind from being over-worked, over-taxed, and underpaid. We can’t afford to live, and we can’t afford to die thanks to our greedy, selfish leaders and naïve voters. America doesn’t have a democracy; we have inequality and authoritarianism. Our democracy is a lie!
What Is Authoritarianism?
any political system that concentrates power in the in the hands of a leader or a small elite that is not constitutionally responsible to the body of the people. White Supremacy has been America’s shadow government of democracy. A small group of White men have led America for hundreds of years except for one brown dot named President Obama. Our political system has been tightly held by an elite group of White men who strongly support White Supremacy and who have never desired to share power. In fact, our constitution doesn’t even mention democracy. Our pledge of allegiance notes we are a republic.
How could we be a democracy when all the citizens didn’t have equal voting rights? If you don’t have the right to vote, how do you get to decide who governs/leads you? Previously in America people who were given the privilege of voting rights got to decide for people who didn’t have rights. That’s not very democratic is it? This still happens today for many people of color and poor folks.
White men have always had the authority to decide who got voting rights. This means White men always ruled or governed unequally. Does that sound democratic to you?
As long as nothing rocks the boat of power and White privilege, Whiteness is good. Whiteness and the systems which insulate it have worked hard (and sometimes looked the other way) to ensure other non-white groups did not have the same advantages to accrue power, wealth, or property as Whites in America. The American government has regularly been opposed to individual freedom of thought and action for certain ethnic groups which also goes against democratic governance. Such opposition eventually led to the Civil Rights Era.
The Human Rights Commission and Blacks in America
While the HRC worked on drafting the Declaration, some of those leading the struggle for civil rights in America…
America has always been governed by authoritarian rule going back to slavery. All the people haven’t been able to have their voices heard in the alleged democracy. Without equality, there can be no democracy.
Inequality has always been a problem in America.
Democracy Is Absent in America
I’m so tired of people talking American democracy because we really don’t have one. There are still “elite” groups of all White men and women who don’t make room at the government table for People of Color. How is that a democracy? After 200 plus years, America is still celebrating firsts.
When democracy is absent, our court systems, to include the Supreme Court looks more like the founding fathers instead of the melting pot we claim we are. Our systems would look more like all the taxpayers — as in equal representation.
When democracy is absent, we have one party rule and sometimes a one race rule. The Dems are as into authoritarian systems as the GOP are. When is the last time our federal government has worked together for our good? When have our state governments reflected the varied demographics of their local and county populations?
When democracy is absent, gerrymandering, redlining, voter suppression and voter role purges happen stripping certain citizens of their right to choose their representation. For us citizens, the power (and money) is directed toward our communities with our votes. Take away our ability to access power to appoint our leaders and how we want to be governed, then we no longer have a democracy. We start to have mini-regimes, oligarchies, soft authoritarianism, and dictators.
For some of us, it feels like fascism.
Democracy Failed Because We Never Had Equality
Today’s unabashed authoritarianism in America is a response to democratic failure, social and racial polarization, economic stagnation, and global instability in which we played a huge role in.
We’ve never been a democracy because we’ve never practiced equality. Equality requires that all the people, not just the privileged people, have a say in what happens to them.
Equality isn’t taking from the rich to give to the poor. Equality is paying the working class a fair wage to live and not allowing them to be worked to death or exploited by capitalism. Equality isn’t giving some people access to quality health care in the city and closing down the hospitals in rural communities where industry and tax bases have dried up. Equality is making sure we all have what we need available to us when we need it, understanding when you’re young and you’re very old, you require more care. Most people don’t want or need healthcare daily, but when they do need care, they would like to be able to afford antibiotics or a doctor’s visit without going into refinancing their home.
Equality is ensuring every community has what it needs to be vibrant and self-sustaining. All the big employers shouldn’t stack themselves in cities where the most educated people are because they are too cheap or too arrogant to train the nation’s workforces so they can work to take care of themselves and their communities. Equality is making sure America works for everyone and that everyone that wants to work has the opportunity to work.
Equality is making every U.S. Citizen has the opportunity to vote. It means forcing employers to modify business hours so employees can vote, and making sure certain voting blocks (i.e Blacks) aren’t disenfranchised via gerrymandering, redlining, school-to-prison pipelines, or policing practices which ensure certain groups lose their rights to vote. Where there’s equality, there is democracy.
As long as America continues to practice inequality which is co-signed by a White majority who historically submits to or looks away from White Supremacy, we will never be a democracy. Just because you say it with your mouth doesn’t make it so.
There Is No Democracy Without Equality
Democracy and equality requires sharing. Democracy requires us all to take care of our brothers and sisters. That means widowed grandma, the orphan in foster care, the immigrants who are fleeing their war-torn nations, the migrants who are picking our fruits and veggies, the trash man, the young mom, the single dad, and the schoolteacher. It means making sure poor communities have sidewalks and covered bus stops just like the more affluent communities in America. It means not charging the person more taxes for buying a ford focus than we do the person who buys a new million dollar yacht. Democracy means we all get to vote.
Democracy and equality means when you’re done with your time your rights are restored. No lifetime banishment for felons which prevents a person from selecting how they are governed. When all people can’t take part in voting, you do not have a democracy.
Democracy and equality means all people have a say all the time no matter your political persuasion. All votes matter, not just the ones in large cities, the rural places, the donors with the deepest pockets, the White ones, or the Black ones. Every vote carries the same amount of weight and has the same amount of power which leads to a government selected by all the people for all the people.
Democracy and equality go hand in hand. America cannot have one without the other. The two are married and inseparable when done correctly. Equality and fairness is a way of life in a democracy. It’s a life most Americans know nothing about because our capitalistic systems teach us to live as if we’re gladiators. We’ll push a man down to use their backs as stepping stools. Equality is an extended hand, because we all need help.
This nation is where it is today because we have allowed and tolerated inequality. From trickle-down economics, over-regulation and under-regulation, corrupt financial practices and systems, a political system paid for by lobbyists and corporate America, Jim Crow and other racial caste systems, separate and unequal education systems, unfair hiring practices, Walmart and big-box store concepts, unfair tax systems, de-industrialization and the ushering in of the tech age, and unfair hiring practices which excludes many people from the workforce.
Whether you’re a Democrat or Republican isn’t really important to me because I’m team human all day every day. What is most important to me is equality. Either you’re for it or against it.
America is in crisis. This nation has been in crisis for as long as it’s been a nation. As long as we’re in crisis, America will continue to have this authoritarian style governance masked as a democracy. And as long as White Supremacy is in their driver’s seat, we will forever have inequality. White Supremacy which is authoritarianism. When Americans can finally grasp equality and how inequality harms us all, only then can we have a democracy.
So it doesn’t matter if we have Trump, Biden, Obama, Oprah, Beto, Castro, Harris, Klobuchar, Warren, or Biden if they are unable to grasp equality. I’m talking real equality. If the next America leader can’t connect equality and democracy, convincing all the American people of the benefits of the two, then we are surely doomed.
America will never have a democracy without equality.
All rights reserved. ©2019 Marley K. This piece may not be reprinted without written permission.