Monday, April 23, 2012

Democracy–Be Grateful For It

Watching the Alberta election unfold and the US election get into high gear and seeing the highlights and lowlights of the various leaders and candidates, one thing comes to mind for me.

For all the warts in the political system; controversies, disappointments and other things that drive us crazy, make us angry and everything else, democracy is still a pretty cool process to watch in action.

Despite all the stuff we like to complain about in coffee shops, on blogs, on call-in programs or in social media, we are still very fortunate to have choices and to be able to openly explore and discuss those choices.

When the Occupy Wall St. movement was going in full swing, I was told by a number of people that our system had become either too fascist, too socialist or some other “ist” word.  They fail to realize that if we were one of those “ist” societies, they would have been jailed or shot long before they could have complained about it.

Meanwhile, Albertans today and Americans in 7 months or so will go to the polls and dutifully select the candidates and parties that they think will lead them.

And while we like to complain about how a lot of politicians let us down routinely, when I think of the alternatives, I can only bow my head in gratitude for the system we have.

No system is perfect, not even democracy.

Regardless of who we elect, even the ones that disappoint us, in the end they are their because we had the opportunity and the freedom to put them there.

THAT is a pretty awesome power to consider and with it comes significant responsibility.

And so whether tomorrow provides Albertans with Premier-elect Smith or Premier Redford (apologies to the other guys who won’t make it) and whether November provides Americans with President Obama (round 2) or President-elect Romney, the power is still ours to determine the future of our province, state or country and ultimately our world.

Having made our choices and regardless of who wins, we must support the leaders and their plans to make our world a better one.  Undermining them in office prevents all of us from creating a stronger society.

If in the end we don’t like who we have chosen and what they have produced, we can change our mind again in a few years and hopefully get it right (or at least better).

This power is ours and unless we screw things up really badly, it will always be ours.

In a world where many people couldn’t dare to dream of having such power, who wouldn’t be grateful for the opportunity to have as much opportunity to change the world as we have with a single vote.

Let’s make sure that the world we create with such power helps more people see the unlimited potential in the world and their unlimited opportunity to contribute to that world.

By doing so, we will have leveraged democracy to its ultimate potential.

In service and servanthood,


Addendum: April 24th

Ms. Smith’s comments after a significant loss to Premier Redford and the Progressive Conservatives are a sign of what makes some people cynical of the system.  The correct response after losing would have been something along the lines of “We look forward to serving the people of Alberta, keeping the Redford government honest on behalf of the people of Alberta, etc” and leaving it at that.

Instead, her closing comment “We look forward to defeating the Conservatives in 2016” shows a naïve dismissal of the next four years or a focus on winning an election instead of accomplishing the best things possible for the people of Alberta.

And you know what they say about wishing your time away.

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