August 14, 2004

The Great Democratic Experiment

Dearest Jon:

Thanks for posting your essay on “Death Of Democracy”. Before I offer my 2 cents I want to point out that the excerpts of the letter you used (which I tried to find unsuccessfully) was based on information that has since been rendered obsolete as a result of new discoveries in the past century. Then there’s that troubling Euro-centric view that was all the rage in those days, which makes me want to respond to the gentleman in question forcefully, but I can’t, since it’s fruitless to argue with a corpse.

To begin, "the average age of the world's greatest civilizations from the beginning of history" is NOT 200 years. In 1787, Alexander Tyler, was pehaps not aware of this fact, so making such a statement might have been acceptable then. However, if he meant to focus on democratic civilizations, then we must focus on ancient Greek civilization and not just Athens as he does. Today we know that the Greeks' use of democratic principles in government lasted more than 200 years. Initially, these principles were not created, adopted or even voted on by the masses, so it’s not the democracy we know it today.

Still, it’s important, for the sake of history, that we acknowledge that our founding fathers took our democratic principles from what worked and didn’t work in Greek civilization. The one person one vote has of course undergone great transformation even from our early days. But in all fairness, Mr. Tyler probably didn’t have the opportunity that we have today, of reading the discussions and evaluations of Greek democratic principles that John Adams, Alexander Hamilton, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson’s record in their papers and diaries.

Tyler was not able to see how these men explored and debated long and hard over what exactly led to the demise of Greek Civilization, when he made his democratic doomsday prediction. I have been able to read these and am all the more grateful for it. Our founding fathers were acutely aware that those who did not study history would be doomed to walk blindly into the same trappings. Their letters of discussion to each other where the blogs of their day.

Our founding fathers not only used their knowledge and experience in these discussion, they also used creativity and hope in forging a constitution that were chock full of democratic principles, some of which had never been tested before. Actually, it would be appropriate to call that initial time in our history as “The Great Democratic Experiment” for what they set out to guarantee, protect and make available to its citizens was, and still is, unprecedented.

Other democracies around the world have still not caught up to the level of success our democracy has proven to be. For those that will read these words and roll their eyes at me I say: “Go ahead, prove me wrong with your own facts.” For if you point to the democracies of England, Israel or France, I hope you will substantiate your point on how these “Socialist Democracies” have caught up to the level of success found in our system of government.

Yes Jon, there are inherent problems with our democracy, such as citizens not exercising their right to vote, which results in candidates entering office who do not have the interest of a majority at heart. However, even situations like this can be rectified through a democratic process that we have seen make the appropriate correction, such as happened with the Governor in California.

So Jon, I not only believe that Mr. Tyler is way off base. I can truthfully assert that our Democracy is not only very much alive, it has built in safeguards so that it will never fail. Our Armed Forces would never let that happen, and our freedom loving citizens would die for this country before allowing such a travesty as a dictator to assume control of our government. Our founding fathers were blessed with too much foresight for that to happen.

So what say you Jon, do you think Tyler would still believe democracy to be in danger in 2004?

Posted by Michele at August 14, 2004 06:08 PM

no other form of gov't can ever be as succesful or as long lasting as democracy. well, maybe except for tyrany, and we all saw where that got Sadam.

Posted by: igor at August 15, 2004 01:31 AM

The general theme of my response is that I don't agree with him. My intro plays nice with his opinions in order to shred his core argument. :)

btw, link posted.

Posted by: _Jon at August 15, 2004 10:44 AM