Is Democracy preserved by killing or voting?

Facebook status: Voting does not preserve democracy. Killing preserves democracy. Look at the history of the world. The red on the American flag represents blood.

Friend in India: and thinking of the native west Indians,the bloodshed which began from the 18th century and goes on today under a different banners – “capitalism”, “globalization” !

Melissa: I don’t think I agree with you there. Yes, war is necessary from time to time to preserve any country from aggression. But killing itself does nothing to preserve the country as democratic. That takes the continuing vigilance of the citizenry, which seems rather lacking today.

Are you being facetious? If that were true, what would differentiate us from warring dictatorship, monarchies and communist states?

Perhaps I am wrong about the symbolism of the American flag:

Red… See More
3. The American flag contains seven red stripes to represent hardiness and valor, qualities the new nation needed to stand up to the British government.

4. The American flag includes six white stripes, meaning purity and innocence. This was an apt symbol for the birth of a new nation.

5. The American flag contains a blue background to symbolize vigilance, perseverance and justice, the qualities of a democratic government.

George Washington’s Interpretation
6. The U.S. history official website (see Resources) presents the legend of George Washington’s interpretation of the American flag’s red, white and blue. The first president said the red stood for the British colors, the white for getting away from Britain and the blue stood for the sky.

Youtube has Howard Zinn’s lecture about America’s “three holy wars” (Revolutionary, Civil and WWII). Zinn estimates that in todays standards the war for Independence would have cost 2.5 million lives. Zinn points out that Canada achieved independence without war and that Great Britain abolished slavery without a civil war.

Obviously, some of us have an understandable vested interest in seeing the U.S. in very pure idealistic terms as “the land of the free and the home of the brave”. I grew in the 1950s watching Superman standing arms akimbo before a waving American flag.

Schools of journalism train reporters to use an inverted pyramid structure with some terse, eye-catching headline at the top.

It appears that my status caught the attention of a few eyes.

The Texas school board voted to omit Ted Kennedy from history texts and emphasize Newt Gingrich who creates books and documentaries that stress the holiness and purity of American and the Christian devotion of the founding fathers. I grew up with Republican parents, Protestant in name, who never went to church even once. I grew in the cold war era thinking that the Russians were the embodiment of evil and America was the embodiment of good.

Nowadays I am more shocked by someone who speaks of the purity of America than by someone who paints a more realistic picture of its strengths and weaknesses. I guess if you read people like Howard Zinn you come away with a view of Americas dirty underside, and if you read Newt Gingrich, you think of America as pure and noble.

I do thank those who take the time to read and comment. I was on errands today but I pondered this thread from my Blackberry.

One interesting experiment is to google on : VOTING KILLING PRESERVES DEMOCRACY

I was surprised to notice that my own post of years ago, which contains my status statement, does not appear in the search engines.

I will post some interesting excerpts, though as yet nothing pops up which supports my status argument.

“If it be admitted that a man possessing absolute power may misuse that power by wronging his adversaries, why should not a majority be liable to the same reproach? Men do not change their characters by uniting with one another; nor does their patience in the presence of obstacles increase with their strength. For my own part, I cannot believe it; the power to do everything, which I should refuse to one of my equals, I will never grant to any number of them.”
Alexis de Tocqueville, “Tyranny of the Majority,” Chapter XV, Book 1, Democracy in America

…as democracy is conceived today, the minority’s rights must be protected no matter how singular or alienated that minority is from the majority society; otherwise, the majority’s rights lose their meaning.


Our transformation into an empire, as happened in ancient Athens and Rome, has seen the tyranny we practice abroad become the tyranny we practice at home. We, like all empires, have been eviscerated by our own expansionism. We utilize weapons of horrific destructive power, subsidize their development with billions in taxpayer dollars, and are the world’s largest arms dealer. And the Constitution, as Wolin notes, is “conscripted to serve as power’s apprentice rather than its conscience.”


..the Constitution doesn’t mention corporations, at the time they didn’t exist as independent entities. Within a few decades many founders, including Thomas Jefferson began to see how corporate power could subvert democracy. “I hope [that] we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations,” Jefferson said, “which dare already to challenge our government to a trial by strength and [to] bid defiance to the laws of our country.” It seems inconceivable that founders would approve the corporate influence in elections that you have just approved.


The second prevailing dogma of our time is aggressive militarism, of which the new policy of preemptive strike against potential enemies is but an extension. This new doctrine of U.S. foreign policy goes far beyond our former doctrine of preventive war. It green-lights political elites to sacrifice U.S. soldiers—who are disproportionately working class and youth of color—in adventurous crusades. This dogma posits military might as salvific in a world in which he who has the most and biggest weapons is the most moral and masculine, hence worthy of policing others. In practice, this dogma takes the form of unilateral intervention, colonial invasion, and armed occupation abroad. It has fueled a foreign policy that shuns multilateral cooperation of nations and undermines international structures of deliberation. Fashioned out of the cowboy mythology of the American frontier fantasy, the dogma of aggressive militarism is a lone-ranger strategy that employs “spare-no-enemies” tactics. It guarantees a perennial resorting to the immoral and base manner of settling conflict, namely, the perpetration of the very sick and cowardly terrorism it claims to contain and eliminate. On the domestic front, this dogma expands police power, augments the prison-industrial complex, and legitimates unchecked male power (and violence) at home and in the workplace. It views crime as a monstrous enemy to crush (targeting poor people) rather than as an ugly behavior to change (by addressing the conditions that often encourage such behavior).

I have hear people admonish those who neglect to exercise the right to vote by saying “much blood was shed to empower you with the right to vote.”

Our elected representatives vote to declare war.

It is more difficult to say that we “go to war” to make voting possible EXCEPT with regard to the long history of woman’s suffrage and the civil rights movement which had a non violent side as well as a violent side (on both sides)

I was told as a child that the red color in the American flag represented the righteous blood which patriots shed to make Democracy possible.

The Truman Doctrine was an understandable reaction to address the fear of Communist aggression and such doctrines seem to justify proactive wars to deter a possible threat.

There is a patriotic rhetoric in which the blood of our flag being prior and necessary to peaceful voting rights seem like the sacred religious blood of a martyr’s sacrifice. We speak of a “war to end all wars” and “making the world a safe place for democracy.”

On the other hand, there are those countries and groups which see America’s violent aggression as “the dark side of the force” if we may speak in Starwars terms.

It might shock you the reader to realize that my status sentence was part of an argument I made in favor of a pre-emptive strike of genocidal proportions. I wrote about such long before 9/11 and long before Tom Tancredo spoke of nuking Mecca.

Now that I see Tom Tancredo advocating voter literacy exams which were so oppressive in the South to exclude blacks from election, I have less admiration for Tom Tancredo and have second thoughts about laying aside ethics and values and using techniques to “neutralize geographic areas” and engage in “cultural restructuring” which would surely be the euphemisms we might employ to make such strategies sound more respectable.

I have also come to realize that even if we were to homogenize the worlds population tomorrow, there is no guarantee that in 100 years other ideological divisions might arise which would put us back in this same terrorist / guerrilla predicament.


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