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The Yearning

by on September 15, 2020

The International Day of Democracy, which happens every year on September 15, “provides an opportunity to review the state of democracy in the world.” the UN says. While the UN continues recognizes that democracy is more of a process than a goal, Secretary of State Michael Pompeo said in recognition of the day that democracy is an “aspiration of people all over the world because each of us yearns to be free.

While democracies can be found all around the world, let’s look at this from an American perspective. First, we need to remember that the UN says

the values of freedom, respect for human rights and the principle of holding periodic and genuine elections by universal suffrage are essential elements of democracy. In turn, democracy provides the natural environment for the protection and effective realization of human rights.

Democracy in America

Every commentary on democracy agrees that “periodic and genuine elections” are the cornerstone of democracy. There cannot be a democracy without fair and accepted voting. America is in a election season at the moment; like every other election this is the “most important election of our lifetime“.

Besides the impediments to free and fair elections like removing polling places that I mentioned in Modern Voter Disenfranchisement, the current election has also candidates removed from the ballots in some states. For instance, in Wisconsin Democrats successfully sued to keep Howie Hawkis, the Green Party nominee for president from being on the ballot. In fact, an article that ran a just a few weeks ago is titled “Democratic Party leads nationwide purge of Green Party candidates from November ballots,” and points out that part of the issue is that third-party candidates are being forced to collect signatures, during COVID-19, to be on the ballot.

This, of course, is the opposite of a genuine election, when a majority party gets to decide that a non-majority party can’t be on the ballot.

Further from the voting booth, but hopefully very much on people’s mind when they cast their vote, are human rights abuses perpetuated by the government and its agents. Protests against police killings, which only began to fade as smoke from human-induced climate disasters made the air unbreathable, have continued for months. ICE, the government agency tasked by the executive branch – and funded by Congress despite their protestations – of keeping migrants in inhuman conditions have been accused of performing indiscriminate hysterectomies. This is a racist, misogynistic, act that is another human rights violation against the captive migrants.

As the UN makes clear, as democracy increases the granting of and protecting of human rights increases. The opposite is true; as democracy declines human rights abuses increase.

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