But the practice of democracy in my country during my lifetime frequently has been antithetical to this principled ideology, never more so than presently. Many citizens see their civic responsibility in different, often mutually exclusive, ways. Conventional wisdom holds that much of that disparity could be put right through education and rational conversation.History seems to refute that hope. Notwithstanding our contemporary environment of massively improved modes of communication, our differing perspectives have sharpened and hardened, and civil disagreement is rapidly evolving into partisan contempt. In part, the problem is exacerbated by a casual human willingness to subscribe to multiple ideologies which, when examined, are mutually incompatible. For example, if a primary aspect of the ideology of democracy is in fact its egalitarian nature, both capitalism and religion, as practiced by some, can be in serious conflict with it
I propose that if one is to assert a serious support of democracy as envisioned by the founding fathers, certain realities apply: government must be secular, must be tolerant enough to eschew a double standard when considering differing perspectives, must exercise a collective and practical concern for those of its members who are unfairly disadvantaged, and must recognize in an intuitive and comprehensive way that humanity is populated by people like us, whose disagreements with us are largely a function of where and when they were born and the consequent life experiences that molded their individual, unique identities. Unhappily, we live in a time when the mechanisms of our political system, and the professional politicians and ideologues who manipulate them, encourage us to ignore these principles. The American public is appalled by the disconnect between its collective will and the actions of its elected representation. We present ourselves to the world as egotistical bullies. Our candidates for office always opt for image over substance, and our uncertified fourth branch of government, the press, is a castrated semblance of its proper self. Perhaps we already have the evidence that the combined forces of corporate greed, religious fundamentalism, self-serving political professionals, and "human nature" will overpower the ideology of democracy. It's not a pretty picture, but we had better look at it.