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Maine Alliance for Road Associations

What is a Democracy?

  • 07 May 2010 9:15 AM
    Message # 337147
    Some of the questions on this discussion forum touch on very important issues about what really makes for a democracy. Someone once said "The true test of a democracy is how the majority treats the minority." MARA supports community because community arises when the majority treats the minority in such a way that it still feels a part of the community. That is not always what happens but it's the goal.

    I got thinking about this one morning and found an interesting discussion I'll refer you to:

    I'm not endorsing everything on this page, but I did find a selection from it very relevant to what goes on in Maine on road associations. (I have often said to myself that if a road association can exist peacefully and effectively after a Maine winter, there is nothing humanity cannot accomplish!)

    Here is the selection (I have inserted some explanatory things in italics and underlined some that I think bear emphasizing.)

    >>>>>>A tyranny of the majority is fundamentally undemocratic, because although it bears resemblance in some basic respects to democracy, it has about as much in common with democracy as (the North Korean dictator) Jong-Il's regime. Both forms of government suppress change; the difference merely is that in North Korea's case, it is at the behest of one man, while in a majoritarian state, it is at the behest of the majority. When the majority refuses to hear the case of the minority, when it suppresses the minority from disseminating their message, it loses all but the most superficial resemblance to a real democracy.

    A democracy is about the freedom to choose, and the freedom to change. That the change and choice, the exercise of these freedoms, is an act of the majority already goes unsaid. Idolising elections as the symbol of democracy makes a fundamental mistake about the nature of democracy, because democracy is not about the majority alone; it is about the majority choosing how the country should be changed.

    A democracy, then, is not merely a country where elections somewhat representative of the people's will are held from time to time. A democracy is a country where every individual has a chance to participate in deciding the direction of his country, and the ultimate decision is made on the basis of popular support. If you take away one half of this recipe, you invalidate the other half.

    Let us not debase democracy by absurdly reducing it to elections, or some vague notion of popular support for whatever government may happen to be in power in the time. Democracy is so much more than this deceptively misleading definition would have it.


    So that is the challenge, folks!
  • 07 May 2010 1:36 PM
    Reply # 337294 on 337147
    Deleted user
    Democracy to me is that everyone has a vote and say in the affairs of the collective.  HOWEVER, you have to get off your butt and show up at the meetings and exercise that right/obligation.  The "majority" can't run away with the farm if you don't let them.  Of course there are cliques that form and force their will and agenda on the rest.  This is a gross oversimplification of the whole process.  We strive for fair and equitable and hope that if ever in court defending our actions/inactions that that will prevail.

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