The idea that democracy will die out in our lifetime is needlessly pessimistic, and cynical just for the sake of being cynical. We are on the cusp of a new age, one where we can only see civil and democratic rights expand, and that’s because of new groups campaigning for equal treatment. So many groups that were silent before now have voices, and the opportunity to use those voices is coming right up.
With the Defense of Marriage Act being struck down a couple of months ago, the members of the GLBTQ community are on their way to getting the same rights as any other citizen, including the right to marry the person they love. I’m not saying that their fight’s over, but the fact that they’re so close to achieving their goal really says a lot about American democracy and the fact that it works.
The fact that new voices can be heard in the government is due to the fact that many of us college students are voting for the first time, and being young and idealistic, we lean towards the liberal side, voting to stick it to the establishment, our parents and grandparents. Many of us also have friends who are GLBTQ, and we want to share our rights with them because we can put faces to such issues.
We don’t see a collection of laws or bills, but the guy teaching us how to use Linux or the woman swiping our cards at the dining hall, and we wonder how we would react in their place. No matter which side we choose, we have very firm, strong moral principles, and we stick to them. We want to make a difference, and voting in our first election always leaves us feeling powerful and needed.
The rise of social media has definitely played a large part in the democracy of today. If we hear about some new law that raises taxes or whatever, what do we do? We go on to Facebook and complain, we put up memes with our favorite characters protesting the law, and the politicians know our displeasure within seconds. Within thirty seconds of a controversial measure being passed, people are both complaining about it and supporting it. Never before has it been so easy to get our opinions heard.
The last reason that democracy will not die out is that the government errs on the side of incompetence. This was the Founders’ intention, to prevent tyranny, and while it’s a pain sometimes, with shutdowns, the two parties at each other’s throats, and it seems like nothing ever gets done, the government will never become too powerful because all the red tape ensures that our voices are still heard. It’s better to argue about the wording of a minor piece of pork-barrel legislation for five weeks than to immediately order a drone strike on New York City after an unflattering caricature is printed in the New York Times. Democracy will still be here long after we’re gone.
Allison Chase is a junior Creative Writing major. Letters and feedback can be sent to email@example.com.