My younger son is married to a woman from New Zealand. Shortly after I met her father, we were discussing politics and he remarked that the USA is not really a nation as much as a conglomerate of 50 different nations. In many ways, he is correct.
The experiment set in motion in 1776 continues, but governing the union has become much more complex.
Some of our states are similar to countries like Norway, and some others are more like Hungary.
Every state and the federal government should function as representative democracies. The outcomes of national elections should be determined by a majority of the electorate, but I do not believe this is happening today. In fact, I believe it has not happened in several decades.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Tribune
I often wonder why we have this state of affairs. Even though I do not know the entire history of this country in detail, I have lived here for over 50 years and have witnessed many changes.
A vibrant democracy depends on a high turnout of the electorate. Unfortunately, this has not been the case. Too many citizens do not take voting seriously and do not really understand the consequences of not voting.
A vibrant democracy depends on a well-informed and reasonably inquisitive electorate. Unfortunately, many voters are uninformed and/or lack civic education. In addition, they vote (if they vote) emotionally instead of logically.
A vibrant democracy produces politicians who are sincerely interested in the commonwealth of the nation, both economically and environmentally. Unfortunately, money and special interests have produced, for several decades, politicians who end up doing the bidding of a wealthy few and therefore creating an oligarchy.
I believe that, in a vibrant democracy, it is very important to keep church and state separate. A politician should not necessarily be “religious” to have wisdom, common sense and a good moral compass. Someone’s religious beliefs should not be imposed on the rest of the nation, especially if the rest of the nation does not share those same beliefs. Religion should be kept out of public policy. Failure to do so will produce authoritarian and theocratic governments.
At this point, you might ask where I am going with this. In the words of a famous CNN anchor: “Here is my take”:
If we believe education is vital to the formation of a good citizen, we should make sure all children at least 10 years old are taught civic education that continues in high school and even college. By the time students graduates from college, they should know everything there is to know about government, good and bad, and be in a position to vote the bad out and keep the good in.
Any politician or political party that does not believe in civic education wants to keep the population ignorant and blindly ideological in order to control it. We see a lot of this in today’s America.
I have heard people say that a good portion of the electorate is stupid. I do not believe that. People are not stupid. Some voters are either not motivated to vote or do not believe their vote will make any difference in the outcome of an election.
Ideally, voting should come to be viewed as a matter of life and death (literally).
If enough people do not vote, the outcome of an election might not reflect the will of the nation and create potential nightmares, both economically and environmentally. I do not need to talk extensively about voter suppression here. I will just say that any state or country that practices any form of voter suppression is not democratic. Democracy and voter suppression are like oil and water — they do not mix.
After the USA became a powerful democracy with a solid middle-class and shared prosperity, some nations around the world became envious of our system of government and have tried (with some success) to undermine it. The advent of the internet and social media has facilitated that task.
Today, I see that whatever we have left of our democratic system is being attacked on a daily basis by American oligarchs within and our enemies without. I fear things will get worse before they get better.
Hopefully, American technology and innovation will prevail.
Pismo Beach resident Fabrizio Griguoli was born in Rome. He is a graduate of UCLA and has lived in the U.S. since 1967, working in sales and marketing for environmental companies and later in finance. He is among the liberal opinion writers filling in for Tom Fulks.