There are several dangers to the survival of Republics and Democracy. Partisanship, man’s tendency to be selfish, and man’s tendency to want to be led come to mind as leading causes of the demise of Republican forms of government. Ideologues are another key reason for the failure of governments to maintain a bipartisan approach to governing.
An ideologue is an adherent of an ideology. Ideologues are individuals who are unwilling to compromise, they are dogmatic and insistent that only they are right.
America’s system of checks and balances depends on the willingness of those who represent the people in Congress to express through their votes the will of the majority and what is best for the country. It is understandable if a representative votes as his constituents wish, because that is why he or she is there in the House to articulate through their votes the majority will of his or her constituents.
In today’s Congress, we see an unwillingness to compromise and an insistence on adhering to a particular ideology and dogma. This is not the democratic way or republican way of governing. But then as part of their ideological philosophy, government is the enemy.
Sometimes facts get in the way for ideologues. They take parts of statements that fit their message and often ignore and disregard the rest that is inconsistent with their ideological predilections. They ignore science and history.
The talk show spokesmen for their ideology, tell us that there are only conservatives or liberals and they do not see how you can be a moderate.
Well, polls indicate that the American people on the whole can not be pigeonholed or put into some ideological box. An individual American citizen has views that cover the ideological spectrum. It is okay to be conservative on some issues and liberal on others. Americans want things to work. They are more pragmatic than the ideologues who have brought government to a standstill.
We have ideological demagogues on the radio spreading their message of how bad government is. They see the graduated income tax as a loss of income rather than seeing their taxes as a price that we should all pay for the services that government provides. They would have everything privatized and eliminate income taxes or at a minimum see the taxes for the wealthy reduced. It is a class view of society where the wealthy are viewed as the providers and the workers are viewed as the users. The use of selfishness to create a political advantage is the bane of democracy and a republican form of government. We live in a community not on an island, alone.
The future fascists of our world often take advantage of the freedom they have when they start out by spewing their message of hate and fear to curry favor with the masses. But once they take power they eschew the freedom to speak for others who may disagree with them and put them in jail to still dissent.
They fail to acknowledge that services such as bridges, roads, education, fixing potholes, having lit sidewalks, paying for the police and firefighters are functions of government that need to be paid for.
The greatest danger that ideologues bring is that through their insistence on getting their way, you can easily lose the democracy you have. What often has happened is that dictatorships come about when compromise and bipartisanship are no longer acceptable.
A demagogue can rise to the surface claiming that he will bring about order out of chaos. Therefore by playing to people’s fears a leader can take away your freedoms in the name of freedom. History is replete with too many examples of those who claim to be the only one that has the answers for the problems that beset a country. They often use lies to bring about their political victory. They use apathy and discouragement while promising to bring about a proud sense of nationalism. They often use religion to beguile the people into a false sense of righteousness. Demagogues often are the biggest exponents of a strong military. Demagogues feed on the economic fears of others and play on racial and religious differences.
So my fellow citizens of not only America but the world, we need to take control through the ballot box and make sure that through eternal vigilance that compromise and pragmatism survive. We need to reject extremism for extremism has no virtue. Remember my fellow citizens that as Lord Acton once warned, “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
The freedom to disagree with those who are on the other side of the political spectrum is essential in any free society. The tyranny that ideologues offer must be rejected if we are to maintain our essential freedoms. It is true as Thomas Jefferson once said that among our natural rights, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are paramount. Let us not be fooled by those who stress the importance of property over equality. We must insist that each individual is important as a human being. That in order for us to enjoy our rights we must have the equal opportunity to enjoy the fruits of liberty so eloquently espoused by Thomas Jefferson so many years ago.