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Letter: Improving democracy

It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others. We have seen countries torn apart by religious and tribal feuding; we have deplored the violence used to maintain civil order, as in Syria, and wonder why democracy-building doesn’t work in Iraq and Afghanistan. Is that what’s happening here? Substitute party affiliation for religion or tribe, and it appears so.

I am not an expert on civics, just a concerned citizen. I believe that the best of democracy — how it is supposed to work — is that everyone has a voice, through their elected representatives; and elected representatives debate issues and come to a consensus that a majority of all people can support.

The worst of democracy, majority rule, is that factions fight to gain dominance so they can impose their views on everyone. This causes the government to be in a constant state of tension, lurching from one direction to another, failing to seriously work together to understand and solve problems: “My way, or the highway” — even if the nation goes down the tubes. This is what appears to have happened in our beautiful country in recent years.

What’s needed is less arrogance and more respect and willingness to listen and learn; less “us and them” and more “we the people.”

I see only one answer: amend the Constitution to get rid of the electoral college and require that no federal office may be filled with less than a majority of the vote.

This would require true runoff elections, but not like in Egypt, pitting the two extremes against each other. Ranking the first four choices (repeating one or two choices if one would not support the others at all), and having two runoffs (this could be done by computer in one vote) would eliminate extremists. Third- and fourth-party candidates would have a chance to rise to the top, the major parties would lose their stranglehold on the political system.

Meanwhile, please go to the polls, and vote on my birthday, Nov. 6.



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