All Americans should have grounds for being immensely proud of their country.
Because nothing better justifies a people’s pride in itself than its serving the world as a model of progressive democracy, I say the United States should be the world’s very model of a progressive democracy.
One rather obvious touchstone of progressive democracies is that their public servants are elected by the electorate. Around the globe there are populaces which could look to the United States and dream that their countries will one day also enjoy public servants elected by the electorate.
Another clear benchmark for a progressive democracy is the safeguarding of individual liberties. The principle here is that those actions of an individual which do no harm to other individuals shall not be restricted. With human beings in so many lands having their individual liberties irrationally limited, the United States could serve as a model, inspiring the oppressed to cast off their oppressors.
A fully functional distribution of information which encourages critical thinking also is an indispensable component of a progressive democracy. In contemporary Cuba as in contemporary North Korea, journalists do not enjoy the liberty to exercise their profession in a manner becoming to a progressive democracy; for that reason alone we can not call either Cuba or North Korea a progressive democracy.
“Due Process” is a legal concept; to fully detail it and the way various countries interpret it goes beyond the scope of this piece. What it means fundamentally, though, is that in its administration of justice, the government will treat all parties with all possible fairness. Those societies which engage in the stoning of unmarried females who become pregnant are not exercising due process; the United States, by consistently applying due process, could help future unwed foreign mothers from being stoned as the sheer moral force of international public opinion, buoyed aloft by the model set by the United States, would bring pressure against the stone throwers.
Freedom of religion is essential to a progressive democracy and nothing is more essential to freedom of religion than separation of church and state. The founding fathers of the United States understood that. At the Constitutional Convention of May 29, 1787 in Philadelphia, Mr. Charles Pinckney presented a plan for the government of the country which made quite clear the importance of separating church and state. Just think how the religious minorities in countries where a religious majority controls them by means of faith-based intimidation could use the model of the United States towards a reform of their defective social systems and procedures.
Multitudinous criteria apply to the establishment and maintenance of a progressive democracy. Space limitations prohibit my mentioning more than these five; 1) Direct, one-man-one-vote elections 2) protection of individual liberties 3) a free press 4) respect for due process and 5) separation of church and state.
For all that the United States in 2005 might encompass some aspects common to progressive democracies, it is coming a cropper in all five of the criteria I discuss in this article. The continued existence of the Electoral College system violates the integrity of the individual vote. When homosexuals are forbidden to marry, even in the absence of evidence that their doing so would harm anybody, individual liberties are not being respected. A certain recent president has so limited and manipulated his contacts with the press that it may not be said that the press has full liberty in reporting on his presidency. The practice of “extraordinary rendition,” well-documented and a must-know for all citizens, is a shameful nose-thumbing at due process. Finally, to insure separation of church and state, all religious arguments should be excluded from rationale given in defense of public policy and yet, an unseemly number of current elected representatives of the United States use “Because God said so, and you therefore have to shut up completely,” as the gist of the argument in favor of their policies.
I conclude using the selfsame phrase with which I opened: All Americans should have grounds for being immensely proud of their country.
By: Scott Rose