Your Sense of Democracy: Next Level

In this past decade I have become very frustrated with the democracy in which I live and yet I see no better alternative than a system of government that at least aspires to operate out of the experience of the people it governs. So I persist to improve system with that humble insight.

The United States as a large scale democracy is in many ways a radical historic experiment that seems presently to be at another tipping point portending a crisis that either heals or breaks.  The United States is not alone in the struggle with this divisive energy creating houses divided around the world. Globally, societies are encountering profound conflict between the local the combined effect of the combined “Sense of individual Good/Sense of Community Good ” and their governing bodies; many of those governing bodies being versions of democracy.  At stake here is; who makes the laws and what are the conditions of compliance? There seems to be a diminishing tolerance for being in the minority and having one’s personal and communal authority frustrated in part by laws passed by the majority. Yet as we know in the nature of our democracy, there is a fluid binary in that we know there will always a minority to the ‘present moment majority’. The US constitution in effect articulates a form of social contract and like all contracts we are presumed to agree to live by its rules.  We are born into our nations contract but unlike all other contracts, we  are not asked formally ‘sign our agreement’. The actual terms of our democratic system are distributed across the Constitution. A democracy such as this one sustains itself to the degree it can bridge its governing moral content with living community and remain true to its explicit political process. The central issues in a democracy will likely be found its population more than its system.

The Private and Public Roles

In The Good Decision, you will see that your individual Sense of Good is being challenged to expand itself with each of the successive Pauses. In your Sense of Democracy Pause III, you will have come to the challenge of our times in terms of the conversation regarding personal authority and the authority embodied in the rule of law arising through legitimate constitutional process. For a democracy to work every citizen must hold him or herself responsible to living two roles in life; the private person expressing personal authority, and the public person exercising the creation of and living within the collective or public authority.  The most basic element of that exercise of public authority is the vote. The formal expression of public authority is law, rule, and regulation.

The Public Self and the Third Pause

In the third Pause you will find yourself entering a role that is more intentional than natural. Democracy is not part of our nature but rather an explicit strategy to avoid centralized authoritarianism through an implicit contract with the populace. Within this role is the attribute of tolerance that allows an imperfect system of governance the time to operate and self-correct. The individual tends to feel powerless at times in a democracy in that the only way to legitimate power is through the collective power of the vote behind a ‘value and resource’ presentation that attracts the majority vote. Today your Sense of Good and your Sense of Community may be in the minority.  The contract of democracy is that you as an individual, and as an individual in community, tolerate your minority status until such time as you accomplish through recruitment and negotiation a majority at which time the power of the government realigns with you and your communities Sense of Good.  Power in a democracy is fluid and follows the majority.  In your public role your responsibility is to promote with your collective community a consensual Sense of Good.  

Civil Disobedience and Civil Abuse

At each Pause we examine how certain choices and decisions can trigger distress and moral distress in your life.  Civil disobedience is a decision in which you find grounds to break the contract of democracy in the face of a public law or regulation that you feel to be an egregious violation of your Sense of Good; a violation often extending to your religious belief or civil religion. This disobedience may also find its support in your community affiliations in which case, given the high price attached to civil disobedience, you need to examine closely your Pause I and Pause II alignment before following your community into their intended action. Civil disobedience may alleviate moral suffering for you, but it is almost certain to result in longer term distress in the form of disruption of lifestyle, family, and community structure. In my work I found frequently people contemplating forms of disobedience with the understanding that their higher private moral ground might mitigate consequence. It was my responsibility to make clear probable consequences of disobedience so those individuals could truly, accurately evaluate impact on self, family, and community.

Civil abuse is manipulating democratic systems for purely private interests. Civil abuse exists in today’s world and is not the same as civil disobedience because civil abuse is not always a technical violation of law. The framers of the constitution built our system for balance more than precision. Exploiting the gray areas of the balance of powers for private interests is civil abuse made possible by the selective abnegation of moral and ethical practice in government.

I recognize how imperfect and controversial this short treatment of democracy may be and invite you to challenge the language and intent by replying to this Pause on the home page.