Are U.S. Elections Good for Democracy?

David Swanson, one of the Founders of After Downing Street, published a thought-provoking piece December 31, "Death by Election:"

There must be a Star Trek episode (if there's not, there should be) in which all the best minds in the...political opposition on some planet are diverted into an obsession with a virtual reality game, leaving ...[the status quo] free to drive the planet into inevitable war and destruction....Elections are a fundamental pillar of democracy when not put to such use...My thesis is that, if we do not change our thinking, elections are going to be the death of U.S. democracy.

... Focusing on the choices presented to us in a two-year electoral campaign leads to insufficient pressure on Congress (with disastrous results in 2007), not to mention independent billionaire campaigns.

...[We must] start behaving like the citizens of a democracy.
Although Swanson is writing for his audience on the left, the point he is raising applies to anyone, regardless of their place on the political spectrum, if interested in true democracy. Swanson contends that we need to do more than just vote. In addition to assuring that votes are counted and that there is an informed electorate, we need to be involved between elections applying pressure to advocate for what we believe in by applying the tools set out in the Constitution: freedoms to speak, to assemble, to publish news, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances. To this he adds impeachment, as he contends that we cannot tolerate lawlessness in our elected officials.

Swanson goes on to talk about the amount of time taken in the progressive media in following the horse race, while crimes continue unabated. Today's New York Times op-ed. "Stonewalled by the C.I.A." authored by 9-11 Commission Chairs Thomas H. Kean and Lee H. Hamilton, raises the specter of such lawlessness.

[T]he recent revelations that the C.I.A. destroyed videotaped interrogations of Qaeda operatives leads us to conclude that the agency failed to respond to our lawful requests for information about the 9/11 plot. Those who knew about those videotapes -- and did not tell us about them -- obstructed our investigation.
More later the library is closing....