Thoughts on Democracy in Action: Hope

So the Supreme Court rulings on gay marriage finally came down today. The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was found unconstitutional, and Prop 8 (the infamous California ban on gay marriage) was dismissed on standing, essentially nullifying it.

I’m sure there are going to be a lot of posts today online about how awful and doom and gloomy these rulings are. Just like there were a lot of posts (likely by different people) yesterday about how awful and doom and gloomy the Supreme Court decision on the Voters Rights Act was. It’s a bit disheartening to me when people can crow about how great our government is when things go their way, and then bemoan how awful it is when they don’t.

I live in the United States, and I’m a firm believer in democracy. That means that sometimes my opinions and beliefs will be in the majority. Great. Sometimes they’ll be in the minority. Great. What matters to me is that I live in a country where I can voice those opinions–have those opinions–and not get tossed in jail for having them.

Does our government function perfectly? No. Far from it. But in many ways it’s designed to be clunky. It’s designed in such a way that laws are only made with great difficulty. Part of that means that it will be extremely frustrating a lot of the time. But it also means that the only laws that *do* stick around are the ones that the majority of the country believe in and want to have in place.

Do I look at the decisions of today or yesterday and pull my hair out and bemoan the state of our country? Not at all. The ship on gay marriage has sailed, and it’s a rainbow painted one. I’m fine with that. I had a vote. So did everyone else. Majority rules. If you don’t like the way it turned out, work through the system to try and effect a change.

(Good luck.)

The rules of this game are all written down. It’s complicated, it’s messy, and it can be a real pain in the rear at times. But I don’t ask for my money back when things don’t go “my way,” and I try not to rub it in other people’s faces when things don’t go “their way”. Because you know what? For better or worse, this country isn’t about my way or your way.

It’s about our way.

We’re a group of imperfect people, trying to find our way toward a brighter future. The opinions on what that future consists of vary wildly, but the sooner we can move beyond an us vs. them approach to government, the better. Republicans and Democrats, Conservatives and Liberals–recognize that both sides can be fully invested in making our country great. It’s one long debate, and there isn’t necessarily a right or wrong answer sometimes.

Days like today, where big decisions are made? They inspire me. Because big decisions *are* made.

I remember back in 11th grade, when I was in Mrs. Chapman’s US History Class, she had us grade the presidents as we went through history. And one thing stuck with me then, and it’s stuck with me since. I respect people who have opinions and stick to those opinions. Politicians on the right or left who believe what they believe, campaign on those beliefs, and vote according to them? I respect them, even when I disagree with them.

What drives me crazy are the politicians who just play the game. Who say what they think they need to say, vote how they think they need to vote, do what they think they need to do–all so they can keep playing the game. It’s one of the reasons I initially liked Obama so much. I thought that’s the sort of president he was going to be. And this is what I feel like I got in return:

Actually, I think that video pretty much represents what happens with a lot of us after election day.

I like seeing things actually happen in Washington. Maybe I’ve been watching too much West Wing. But in any case, today and yesterday we had 9 Supreme Court justices sit down, study the laws of the land, and make final decisions on important matters. The very fact that the decisions ended up resulting in different “victories” for each side is enough to give me hope.

I don’t have much else to say about this. Just that I know I like to rage about politics online, and I wanted this post to be different. To be one where I stood up and applauded our government.

Days like today make me happy.

(THAT SAID: Please don’t make me unhappy by being mean of vicious to anyone in the comments. Because then I’ll have to get out the DELETE key and start going to town on your posts.)

6 thoughts on “Thoughts on Democracy in Action: Hope”

  1. Well said Bryce. I’m also getting tired of the doom and gloom posts on both sides. I don’t think I’m just being passive. I think more moderately and am willing to accept the decisions. I am not sure why anyone is surprised, this is exactly how all the analysts predicted the rulings would be. Thanks for including the Kimmel bit…perfect analogy for what we opened under the tree on election day 2008.

  2. I respectfully disagree with your post, for two basic reasons:

    “I had a vote. So did everyone else. Majority rules.” Contrary to that statement, today’s rulings do not reflect or implement democracy. In fact, they do just the opposite. A strong majority of the citizens of California (70%+) voted to define marriage as the traditional union of a man and a woman (Prop 8). Similarly, a strong majority of both houses of Congress passed DOMA. Today, a small group of unelected judges overturned the will of the people in both instances. The decisions were as anti-majoritarian and undemocratic as they could be. You may agree or disagree with what the Supreme Court did, but hailing it as an example of democracy is erroneous.

    “What matters to me is that I live in a country where I can voice those opinions–have those opinions–and not get tossed in jail for having them.” Tell that to the pastor in Canada who was thrown in jail for teaching the Biblical view of sexuality. Tell that to the Massachusetts father who was thrown in jail when he objected to his grade-school child being taught about homosexuality without his knowledge or consent. Tell that to the photographer, the wedding cake decorator, and the bed-and-breakfast owner who were fined because providing services to same-sex couples violated their religious consciences. As you will soon see, suppression of free speech and religious conscience has followed everywhere same-sex marriage has been instituted.

  3. But see, the whole “Supreme Court” thing is an established rule–everyone knows that at some point or another, all laws in the country can be challenged there, and when they are, then a small group of unelected judges get to decide what’s what. And that’s a vital part of keeping everything balanced. If you disagree on that point, then the answer is to go back to the Constitution and start rewriting.

    The list or people who have been tossed in jail for their views is (to me) another example of the price we pay for living in a democracy. Everyone sets the rules, and then everyone has to live by them. Sometimes what an individual may think or want will be different from what the rest think or want. That’s how it works.

    (And thank you for articulating your point respectfully. I appreciate it.)

  4. @Bryce Moore

    “But see, the whole ‘Supreme Court’ thing is an established rule . . . .”

    The present function and power of the Supreme Court are only the “established rule” because the Constitution has been weakened and subverted. See Federalist No. 78, where Hamilton explained that the Supreme Court must strictly follow the Constitution, not invent rights and ride roughshod over Congress and the principle of federalism. The level of power the Supreme Court wields today has been usurped from the states and from the citizens of this country. Calling it the “established rule” does not legitimize it.

    People being tossed in jail is the “price we pay”? The purpose of the Bill of Rights was to protect individual rights, the rights of
    he one against the many. What we allow to be done to one can be done to all. One person being thrown into jail because of his or her speech, opinions, or religious views is too many. Also, please don’t say that the Supreme Court is protecting individual rights with these decisions The only rights that the Supreme Court has the right to enforce are those set forth in the Constitution and in amendments duly pass, as applied according to their original meaning. The “rights” that the Supreme Court has invented over the years, e.g., Roe v. Wade, are not legitimate rights preserved by the Constitution. They are simply usurpations of power contrary to the rule of law.

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