Democracy – Self-governance of the people, by the people, for the people.
In his farewell address to the nation, President George Washington gives sage advice to the fledgling republic he helped found, as it tries to find its footing in self-governance, in an era of feudalistic societies.
Among other things, he lays down a case for self-governance without political parties. He puts forth a well thought out argument as to how the mere existence of political parties could imperil our democracy, because by their very nature political parties stand to benefit from factionalism and divisiveness. They achieve this by false propaganda, pitting communities one against the other, thereby weakening the Union.
He writes, “One of the expedients in party to acquire influence within particular districts is to misrepresent the opinions and aims of other districts.” He cautions the voter, “You cannot shield yourselves too much against the jealousies and heart burnings which spring from these misrepresentations.”
Given the unmitigated levels of toxicity in election campaigns and the corruption in our government, the truth in these eloquent words, sounds prophetic. What if we lived in a world as advocated by our first President?
Imagine, an election cycle without any political parties – no democrats, no republicans, no green or any other party. An election cycle, where the individual candidate, unbeholden to any political party, does not have to lean either left or right, but stand upright and run for public office only on the strength of their credentials and beliefs.
When the people of Macondo1 saw an actor die in a movie and reappear as a completely different character in another movie, they decided they, “…would not tolerate that outlandish fraud and they broke up the seats.”
But, we are not some primitive people from the fictitious Macondo, we are modern people who live on the, ‘Information Highway’. We know intellectually, that movies are commercial ventures made possible by modern technology, built by a large crew of invisible people with the actors being the only visible part of that venture. We know in our minds that actors are people, who portray scripted characters, as navigated by the director.
These actors are nothing like the fantastic characters they play on the screen. They are ordinary people, just like you and me. Yet, somehow seeing them up-close, smiling at us – not straight at the camera, but at me, the movie-goer – inviting us into their homes, into their lives, into marvelous worlds of fantasy and magic, sharing with us their travails and their triumphs, somehow tug at our heart-strings, making us believe in the impossible, just like when we were little children wishing for magic.
An uncomfortably strange first and last name, a middle name that could evoke fear in some. Then there is the discussion of his degree of whiteness and blackness, inexperience, Bradley effect to name a few. Despite all these attributes, Barack Obama a Professor of the Constitutional Law, seemed like the oddest of ducks to run for the Presidency. He simply did not seem to fit in to the formulae of a typical American running for the President.