Letters to the Editor

Abraham Lincoln ended his famous Gettysburg Address by dedicating our nation and those who died in its cause, “to that great task remaining before us” pleading that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” 

Clearly, Lincoln was making an appeal for true democracy in American government to continue by serving the “will of the people.” But tragically, we have failed to heed Lincoln’s plea. Today our Federal Government is completely bought and paid for by multinational corporations and their lobbyists; State Governments also are under the control of rich corporate interests; and local governments, intended to be the bastions of democracy, are being pressured by media and special interests into believing their purpose is to serve these same interest groups being catered to in Washington and state capitals.

Democracy is government “by the people.” More precisely democracy is a system of government whose supreme power is vested in the people and exercised directly by them or when electing the representatives, they choose to serve their needs and interest. Representatives, therefore, derive their power from “the people” they represent and it is “the people” they are accountable to—not to corporations, developers, big business, lobbyists, greedy bastards, campaign donors or their own self-interests. Shamefully, the goals of democracy have been abused and corrupted in our country. Only at election times are the people shown the deference they are entitled to in our current American Democracy, but that consideration quickly morphs into a charade of pandering by candidates who make outlandish promises, while excoriating their opponents, to win our vote. Billions of dollars are spent on campaign propaganda filled with lies, deceits and false promises by both political parties, so elections are won by the con artist candidate best able to deceive the most voters.

Whether it’s the Clintons, Bushes, Obama or Donald Trump, these politicians can “talk the talk”, but never walk the walk because they are only going to do the bidding of the wealthy and powerful “donor class” to the total exclusion of the people who vote them into office. Such hypocrisy has rendered our democracy as fake as the news we hear or read about in the national media that chooses to promote more spending by the military and to be the cheerleaders for more wars while ignoring the real problems at home and abroad. And realize the U.S. has spent trillions of dollars and sacrificed millions of American lives under the banner of spreading democracy throughout the world or, as President Wilson claimed, “keeping the world safe for democracy,” but the most hurtful lapse in democracy comes at the local level where our peers, neighbors, and friends get elected and then appear to experience a change of attitude. Suddenly having power and control seems, for some, to create the illusion of superiority and a change of identification to the rich and powerful. A Government of the people, by the people and for the people gets replaced with Government of the powerful, by the powerful and for the powerful and, regrettably, that becomes the criteria used for making their decisions. Elections by themselves don’t create a democracy because authoritarians and dictators hold elections too.

Rather, Democracy comes from respect for the law, the constitution, and the will of the people expressed through their elected legislators. Governmental authority, therefore, comes from “the people” and is based on their consent. Our local governments violate their authority every time they ignore the will of people, or make important decisions on matters without personally listening to the public’s input, or decide an issue based solely on property rights of an individual, and when they limit the public’s freedom of expression to a minuscule time period of only 2 or 3 minutes. Locally, we can easily recover from our brief lapses in democratic principles, but only if we can restore our faith in Democracy and the belief that our fellow man matters. Let’s Make Democracy Great Again starting here in the Town of Linn.

Dick Malmin, Town of Linn resident and Lake Geneva Activist

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