A prominent United States senator said recently that the influence of money in political campaign financing “. . . is nothing less than an influence-peddling scheme in which both parties compete to stay in office by selling the country to the highest bidder.” In her book, The Corruption of American Politics, veteran Washington journalist Elizabeth Drew writes that money is drowning out decency and threatening the underpinnings of democracy itself.
This is ominous. Democracy is more than a form of government. It is a way of life, a formula for just relationships. The word “democracy” means rule by the people. Abraham Lincoln described this form of self-government as “government of the people, by the people, for the people,” not government of some people, by some people, for some people. Democracy supports individual freedom and the fundamental dignity and equality of all persons.
Democracy, theoretically, is a form of government in which political power rests with all the people. It recognizes the intrinsic value of widespread and broad-based input. It invites the richness of diversity. Democracy says do not look only to yourself and like-minded people for answers; avail yourself of that which others have to offer, for life is diverse. Democracy says do not be rigid or inflexible; be open and adaptable, for life is dynamic and ever changing. Democracy says do not make participation exclusive; make it inclusive, for life is all encompassing. Democracy says do not gravitate to extremes; seek moderation, for life requires balance. Democracy says do not represent only those who have influence; represent all, for life demands justice. Finally, Democracy says do not tamper with this process, for it is your only hope of survival.
Democracy requires watchdogs. Always, it is under siege. This occurs when our capitalistic economic system and our democratic political system clash. Democracy calls for a government of, by, and for the people. Capitalism calls for profit. When the quest for profits plays a disproportionate role in electing candidates to public office, democracy is compromised. When office holders reward their benefactors, there is a gross violation of democracy. This legal form of institutionalized corruption defeats the spirit of democracy. When the morality of our government is corrupted, democracy disintegrates. When the government is controlled by those who seek profit above the welfare of the common good, the democratic process is rendered useless.
The democratic process represents an appreciation for life, a celebration of diversity, and an acknowledgment of our oneness. It is a process emanating from our instinct to be free, an irrepressible force. The ideals of democracy are the ideals of humanity. For democracy in our public sector and for capitalism in our private sector to work together harmoniously, we must fully understand the implications of our interdependence: the interrelationships of life, which sustain both human and ecological systems, must be honored.
Democracy is the form of government we have chosen to protect these interrelationships. Those of us who work in the public sector must understand our protective roles. The common good cannot be sacrificed for the benefit of the powerful. Those of us who labor in the free market have similar responsibilities. The first is to support, not erode, the democratic process. The second is to profit in ways that do not violate people or our environment. From these judicious uses of power in both sectors, we all profit and progress.
The Solution: Seven Words That Can Change The World…the DVD
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