Two weeks ago when the U.S. Senate voted not to pass any new gun legislation after the Orlando attacks, here are two of the social media posts which came across my news feed:
“An amazing victory for the 2nd Ammendment! (sic) Thank you Senate for doing one thing right”
“Our Republic works for the lobbyiests (sic) with $$$ and screw the 90% of working stiffs who want change!”
Couldn’t get much different, right? So what can we learn from these two posts other than the obvious fact that both liberals and conservatives don’t know how to spell?
I think it teaches us this: we live in a democracy and it is working.
Is it flawed? Of course. Any government system run by humans will be flawed.
Is it biased? Of course, for the same reason above.
Could it be better? Of course.
But is it working? Yes.
And here’s why.
- The Senate voted. The majority vote determined course of action.
- People in favor of the Senate vote came out and praised the action.
- People opposed of the Senate vote criticized the action.
You may not realize it if you are sucked into the the 24-hour cable news cycle, but this is a beautiful thing. A system for allowing votes to happen and a system allowing protests to follow. The American Government may seem less than this because, perhaps, you as a constituent didn’t get what you wanted. But someone else as a different constituent did. In this particular case, the conservatives were happy, the liberals were not.
Fast forward to this past week and we see a reversal of fortunes. The Supreme Court decided 5-3 to overturn a Texas abortion law. The liberals praised the court for their progressive action which preserved a woman’s right to chose by giving her options. The conservatives railed against the ruling, stating that it will actually endanger the lives of women. Elected officials in the Texas legislature passed a law. Others took that law to court. The courts wrestled with the issues and the Supreme Court gave the ultimate verdict. Those opposing protested, and the Texas legislature will now have the opportunity to make a new law if they deem it appropriate.
This is all beautiful. It’s all part of our modern democracy. Nobody gets what they want on a consistent basis, and that’s a good thing.
There’s been a lot spoken over the last few years about how the Republican congress has been unwilling to compromise with the White House on certain issues. Republicans have countered that it is the White House that is unbending, taking matters into their own hands through executive order. And while there is some element to truth in the fact that Congress is not in a mood accommodating to compromise, this misses the much larger point. Compromise is embedded into the American democracy. Compromise comes at election time when the American people decide to go a new direction. Newly elected officials can then decide to break with the previous Congress and go a new direction. But the other side fights back, first through media and protest, and then at the next ballot box. It’s this give and take, this eternal struggle, this electoral compromise that makes America great and gives it a stable democracy unlike the world has ever seen.
So every time you don’t get what you want, you can’t scream “The System is broken!” Why? Because the system is not for you and your ideology. It’s for everyone and everyone’s ideologies. Does it make the American Government slow moving? Absolutely. Does it make it sometime infuriating? Without a doubt.
Opposing views. It’s what’s needed in a thriving democracy.
Happy 4th of July!