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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 6/4/21

Ratifying Democracy

By       (Page 1 of 1 pages)   1 comment, In Series: Democracy in America
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George Floyd Portrait
George Floyd Portrait
(Image by Dan Lacey from flickr)
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The guilty sentence handed down in the George Floyd murder case is, on its face, a ratification of our basic democratic principles, often followed more by exception than by rule, especially when it comes to racial groups and the poor in U.S. courts.

There was much to celebrate with the verdict, but everyone had a strange and eerie feeling that there was another shoe to fall. Was this an indication of a real shift in our dealings with blacks in our courts or was this just an anomaly? The following days and weeks have not provided much clarity.

We hoped for the signs within society of a recognition of the past imbalances of justice and some movement redirecting not only policing practices but also dealing with an entire range of social problems, now too often, and inappropriately, left to the police to handle.

Unfortunately, we saw, here in Minnesota and across the nation, almost immediately a continuation of police killings of unarmed black citizens. One was left with the haunting concern that some police saw the verdict as an affront and were willing to double down on their present deadly tactics. We also watched as too many on the conservative side, egged on by the Republican Party, which was still too much the party of Trump, began to resist any meaningful change in policing or in national policy. It appeared to be the same-old obstructionist strategies of the past, slowing down any momentum for change, hoping that it would fade away and be satisfied with some mere window-dressing instead of any real change.

This brings to mind the hopes for gun control in the face of continuing gun violence in this nation. Gun control gains momentum after each mass shooting with little to no meaningful response. And we watch, again and again as those hopes slowly die, after battering themselves against the unbreachable walls of the conservatives in the US Senate, who are always willing to use the filibuster as a last resort rather than allow any change.

Too often we have seen the glimmer of hope for any real ratification of the principles of democracy, which should be the foundation of this nation, being beaten down by the entrenched power of conservative forces who want no change. Instead, we see the return, again and again, to the domination of an entrenched aristocracy of an economic elite. Those forces are too often much more concerned with economics as a way to retain their hegemony than to any concerns for social justice or democratic ideals.

This is a part of a narrative that has been foisted upon the unwary citizens of this nation. It is based on an illusion of a world dominated by an innately wise and wealthy, white, male, Christian elite, who have been chosen by the universe or by God to control the rest of the citizens. It is the illusion of White Christian Supremacy with the assumption of inferiority when dealing with other racial, religious, and even ethnic peoples. It is an illusion of a static world and society, with no change possible or even necessary. And as the illusion gets farther away from the observable reality of the world and of the life most people deal with, the justifications get more strained, and the tactics used to sustain those illusions get more extreme. To sustain that illusion you must disregard science, and logic and reports of what is actually happening. You must limit and control education to only allow the indoctrination of that delusional narrative. You must control ideas by controlling the communication media of the nation. You must disregard all but the most fundamentalist Christian beliefs. And you must justify your actions by economic standards and not by any human standards or by the standards of a democracy. You must rely on imposed solutions handed down from on high, allowing no deviation, with punishment being immediate and harsh.

After the ruling of the George Floyd murder case, we, almost immediately, see some states outlawing educational attempts to understand the role of race within our society. We see states restricting voting rights, especially aimed at racial groups. We see an easing of gun controls. And we see a portion of society ready to move into an armed camp to defend the status quo at all costs.

But the struggle is not over yet; social justice still has great momentum within the society and will not be easily turned aside by the old solutions of a dying system. The inactivity and frequent obstructionism of factions within governments on the national, or even state level, will not stop this call for change. If it cannot be done with political support on that level, then it will continue to be practiced on the individual and community level. The recent experiences of the pandemic have reminded everyone of how vital and effective individual and community activity can be in sustaining our society. The community is the real representative of the political will of the people, and this will not be stopped by the "political won't" of the conservative elements of government.

The situation is very much like an old and dying, very powerful and entrenched system, willing, in its death throes, to bring everything down with it, regardless of the consequences. Those within that system feel like they are fighting some noble and preordained fight for what is good and true. They are sure there is no meaningful life outside the bubble of their illusion.

The way past this is to change direction and leave that old system behind with less and less support as their irrelevance becomes more and more apparent and their isolation grows. It is like they have constructed an impenetrable castle in the hopes that it will stand for all time and protect their illusions of a world gone by. That castle is sustained by the support of those who toil outside the walls of the castle, whose purpose, they are told, is to support the needs of the aristocracy within the castle walls. Until, one day that aristocracy, within the castle walls, awakens to a world without sufficient support to sustain that castle. It will become clear that their castle has become as irrelevant as the Maginot Line was to the French when WWII began, and the German invasion simply went around the fortifications of the Maginot Line. That castle will simply be an abandoned artifact of another era and will exist as a monument to past folly.

Regardless of what past illusions some in our society are trying frantically to sustain, the need for fairness, inclusivity, racial justice, and the other principles of a democracy will win out if we have the courage to continue on the path of justice and equality to ratify democracy in the face of an old and dying system.

The result of the George Floyd murder trial seems to have been to clarify the distinctions between the faction for the old system and a new faction with the courage as individuals and communities to create and ratify a democracy with its actions.

A George Floyd Trilogy

We have just passed the first anniversary of the killing of George Floyd. This past year, watching events in Minneapolis from my home a bit farther north in Minnesota, I have written articles about the killing of George Floyd, the political implications, and the national and international response. All three have been published online in The first one, "Catalyst", was published on June 12, 2020, shortly after the initial event. The second, "The Soul of American Democracy", was published on April 10, 2021, as the trial was beginning. This, "Ratifying Democracy", will be the third of the trilogy about the results of the trial and about the aftermath of the George Floyd event.

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I have a deep belief in participatory democracy, the value of ordinary people and finding a path to a sustainable future. I also understand the immediacy or the need for significant action to save democracy and our sustainable future on this (more...)

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