letter to the editor

Protecting democracy

Mon, 12/02/2019 - 6:45pm

Dear Editor:

Linc Sample poses an interesting hypothetical in his letter of 11/28. Let us suppose that the people of Hong Kong were armed and some how managed to repel China’s vast army. What then would the shape the of that emergent society be after China’s withdraw? Would it descend into factionalized warring parties for control or adapt the liberal tenants of democracy and rule of law?

We Americans got lucky. Our founding fathers, after a long and bloody struggle, founded a participatory government informed by the liberal ideas of Locke, Rousseau and Hobbes. Let me be clear and plain about this: the institution of democracy and rule of law are foundational to liberal political ideals.

Linc sample is correct to be concerned about our government being used against us. I share this concern. For decades our liberal democracy has been under well funded and systematic attack by anti-liberal, or more accurately, authorization elements in our society.

We have suffered many subtle and dramatic changes in how we the people relate to our government as it shifts away from its liberal roots toward a more dangerous authoritarianism. The examples are too numerous to list in this short opinion.

The answer though, is not to hunker in a bunker awaiting for some zombie apocalypse.

The fate of our republic is at a crossroads. We can still speak, and for the most part, we can still vote. We need to be more wary of those with authoritarian leanings who tell us that our government is the problem because it is they who wish to replace our government based upon citizen participation with one more suited to oligarchs.

Fear is the tool of choice authoritarians use to persuade us citizens to give up our birthright bit by tiny bit. It is easy to react in fear to the complex problems posed by the world today with erroneously simple solutions. It is appealing to react to societal change with nostalgia for a time that never was. It is tempting to recoil from the messiness of democracy.

Democracy requires our engagement, tolerance and, most of all, courage.

Fred W. Nehring

Boothbay