Optional page text here. The Beast's Lair: Representative Democracy

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Representative Democracy

I recently read a very interesting article that dealt with the current status of the potential Roe v. Wade reversal. If you have been following The Beast's Lair at all, you know that I have been working through the process of discovering the role that Christianity should play in our democratic processes, especially in regard to the constitution and the freedom of religion, separation of church and state, etc. It has been a process similar to walking through water. Slow and quite tiresome.

I am convinced that our country is at a place where we have no idea what is going on. Although we recognize the undeniable fact that our country was built strongly on Christian principles and that perhaps the framers could "never foresee the possibility that our country would fall into such a non-Christian state," we also have to accept the truth that a continual searching and re-searching of the constitution is not only wise, but essential to maintain the kind of country that operates under the direction of the majority of the people and what ultimately comes out to be simply the right thing to do. We are taking the 10 commandments from the courts, but In God We Trust is still on our money. Schools are becoming less and less able to promote anything of a Christian nature, but we have prayer before every session of congress. We just don't know what to do.

But the thing that really interests me is the distinction between representative democracy and what is just clearly the right thing. In essence, our country operates that those things are one in the same. When the majority speaks, it is the right thing and our country responds. However, there have been times when our country has gone against the majority and said "you are all wrong and this is the right thing." The most obvious example is slavery. You can say to me "come on Phil, slavery is just obviously wrong. Regardless of the majority." So, how do we know when those times have come? How do we know when something is just obviously right or wrong, regardless of what the majority opinion may be.

USA Today ran a column Monday dealing with Roe v. Wade and what the states would do if the decision was reversed. Remarkably, some states are already implementing "trigger laws" that would immediately go into effect if the reversal does happen, making abortion immediately illegal, or at the least make the criteria very narrow for having the procedure. 22 of our states have made steps to impose significant restrictions. In contrast, 16 states would allow abortions at the current levels. 12 states are in middle ground. According to the article, the results show that the 22 states likely to enact the restrictions or ban make up 50% of the population, while the 16 states allowing the current level make up 37% of the population.

So, with that in mind, we can see that the current unrestricted access to abortion is available because of the action of the U.S. Supreme Court and that alone. The court went beyond the majority of the people, and amazingly, 30 years later, the decision does not reflect the majority of the people. So now, let's apply the same sentence to abortion that we did to slavery. "Come on Phil, it's obvious that abortion is just clearly right, regardless of the majority" Doesn't quite work this time, does it?

I return to my difficult walk through the water, even more confused.

7 Comments:

Anonymous Rexwilder said...

As you know from our discussions, I believe this is an unbelievably difficult thing to get a handle on. Therefore, most people don't try. They just stick with their beliefs and use whatever analysis provides any support for that belief (even if they have to switch from side to side on different beliefs). I guess the one important thing to remember is the Supreme Court gets a lot of flack, but it is still in our hands. All it takes is one amendment to the Constitution to overrule their decision. We are the final authority. (i.e., passing a law banning abortion was ruled unconstitutional due to the right of privacy implicit in the Constitution (many people think the right to privacy does not exist, but that's what the Supreme Court has held), but we the people can pass an amendment changing the Constitution...and we have done it many times before--see 18th and 21st amendment (prohibition and repeal of prohibition)).

There is also no reason why we can't have a Constitutional Amendment to allow the Ten Commandments or the Koran to be posted in schools or whatever. Again, maybe one thinks, "well, the Constitution doesn't prohibit that now"...but that's not what the Supreme Court says, so if you want to change it--amend it. But the Constitution has been set up to protect against a short-term swing of power changing the basic structure of our country.

Its a great topic, and there is no right answer...a person just has to try and understand the legal/political structure of the United States and then decide how they are comfortable working their beliefs into that structure (or fighting to modify the structure if they think it is wrong).

Remember the government carries the "big stick". When one pushes for the government to approve or disapprove an action. Think about the flip side. Is that something you think the government should be involved it? If not, maybe its not the government's issue or fault, it is the individual's issue. One example, if a person believes because we are (barely) a majority protestant nation right now we should pass a law to allow the Ten Commandments in schools, what will their feeling be in ten years when we are not and another majority position wants to post their belief? If the answer is, well that's okay but I'll fight against it (just like people fight against the Ten Commandments now)...fine. But if the answer then is, the government has no business telling me what to do....that's hypocritical. If the government shouldn't do it then, the government shouldn't do it now.

April 20, 2006 7:39 PM  
Blogger The Beast said...

Rex,

Thanks for your comment. I want to address something from your response that might have freaked some of my readers out. I am sure you are aware of what I am going to describe, but I feel I need to qualify something. . .and this is off topic, so if everyone else who wishes to comment could stay on the original post, that would be great. I can make another post on this if need be:

You mentioned that protestants are barely the majority now in the U.S. and that in ten years if we weren't, we wouldn't want anything forced on us. I, of course, agree with you. However, I want to make sure my readers know that our country, according to a 2004 poll, is still 79.4% Christian. Catholicism, which is of course Christian, is not protestantism. So, when you combine Catholics and Protestants, you have 79.4% of the U.S.(Catholics are 25.9%) The total of all other world religions, including Jewish and Muslim, is 5.2%. The remaining 15% are no religion OR other. Now, here is where my recent posts on the non-denomination movement become interesting. Polls are indicating that many Christians who were protestant but are now heavily identifying with the Non-Denominational church are actually responding to these things as "other." That is to say, I'm not protestant or Catholic. Interesting.

So, in case my readers were thinking that the Jewish and Muslim faiths were about to take over in the U.S., which I know was not your point, I felt a comment was necessary.

April 20, 2006 11:44 PM  
Anonymous Diver said...

It has always struck me as interesting that the majority tends to be silent. While the minority typically makes large amounts of noise, and then points to themselves and say, "See we are showing you what America wants, if anyone wanted something else they would be making as much noise as we are." The majority needs to stand up and be heard, it is time we stopped standing back and being secure in our numbers. When I am talking to people about something like the ACLU almost everyone goes crazy about some of the things they pull, yet they manage to get away with it because we are silent. It needs to stop.

April 21, 2006 10:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who is the "we" in the above comment? And are "we" against the ACLU? Just curious.

April 21, 2006 11:26 AM  
Anonymous Diver said...

Kind of depends on which part you are reading Anon. When it is in thequotes area the "we" would be referring to vocal minority members.

When it is in this area "The majority needs to stand up and be heard, it is time we stopped standing back and being secure in our numbers." I would be identifying myself as a member of the quiet majority. Reading comprehension is your friend. ;)

And I am very anti-ACLU, and most of the people I surround myself with are as well. The ACLU is anti-America and I find that offensive. If you hate America then go somewhere else.

There was a time when everyone identified themselves as an American, period. Now we are too busy identifying ourselves as some sub-set of America. The pride in country, even by many who the country did not take pride in itself, that was present during WW2 is missing now. That is very sad.

"When a person identifies themselves as a member of a group within a society it is a sign that the society is failing" - Robert Heinlen

This is a true statement. And the ACLU is busily encouraging people to seperate themselves from the whole, because they want this country to fail.

April 21, 2006 2:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lets all move to Canada. With a quick stop at Dolly Wood... YEAH!!!

April 21, 2006 8:08 PM  
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