Building a democratic democracy

By Andrew Justus | 4/15/12 10:16pm

“In a democracy people will always get the government they deserve.”

This quote by some French man back in the day has always been true of representative government but is especially true today. The picking of competent politicians and the oversight of those who are already in power, rests with us and us alone.

It is up to us citizens to educate ourselves about what is going on in the government so we can make good choices about how our country, states and cities are run.

The rise of super PACs, the Tea Party and other obstacles to good government are still no match as long as the vast majority of people are reasonable and well informed.

Today, we the people have more access than ever to our elected officials and the governments they run. We have the ability to become more informed than ever before about the inner workings of the government and the democratic process. Websites like and are effective sources for non-partisan news and information. More traditional sources like the Washington Post newspaper and NBC’s “Meet The Press” are also good sources of news about national politics that aren’t too partisan.

In addition to being informed, it’s the job of us regular people to be active in telling our representatives in government how we would like to be governed. No amount of lobbying or underhanded campaign contributions can overpower a flood of emails and other correspondence from common men and women. We hold the ultimate authority over elected officials because we can vote them out or keep them around. No special interest can cast a vote, it can only try to buy the influence of the voting public.

Some people volunteer on campaigns or go into politics themselves, but that is a bit much to ask of ordinary people who may not be as geeked about politics. Such a spectacular effort is also not necessary if only more of our fellow citizens would get involved on some level with our government.

At times when political discourse is divisive and the policies of some so-called leaders seem out of touch with common sense it may seem like being involved in politics is a lost cause. There is no better time for the voice of reason to stand up and be counted then when the only others opening their mouths are ridiculous.

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