To Defend Democracy, Obey Its Rules

Democracy is a compromise that attempts to maximize the personal freedom of everyone by creating a common set of rules – first, laws; second, courtesy. Democracy is most effectively defended, logically, by acting in accordance with democratic procedures. Beware the fascist trap of trying to use fascist tactics to defeat fascism.

Fascists feed off violence; violence is after all at the core of their political approach. A tiny minority of violence-seeking individuals is likely to exist in any society. A larger minority of superficially legitimate politicians will find the temptation to exploit violence irresistible if given any indication that they can get away with it. Thus, it is critically important for defenders of democracy to avoid provoking violence; once fascists gain ground, defenders of democracy will have all the violence they can possibly handle…and more.

Young defender of democracy, study the negative example of Hitler’s rise; study the positive examples of William Lloyd Garrison, Mahatma Gandhi, and Martin Luther King. The solid ground for defenders of democracy is democratic methods, i.e., the rule of law plus courtesy toward others.

The irresponsibility of many politicians is politicizing the younger generation, not just young adults but youths who are suddenly filling the vacuum by acting like adults and reminding the rest of us about the real meaning of American values. This politicization of the young, so long tuned out and at the mall, represents incredibly good news for American liberties. But they will fall into the trap that the fascist extremists have set for them if they copy fascist tactics. The youth who are now so admirably taking to the streets in protest against the racist, sexist, exclusionist tendencies of a certain set of irresponsible politicians need to stay on the high ground: if their point is to defend liberty and equality, then they can only convince others if they behave as they preach.

The point of protesting is not to convince extremists; it is to convince the apolitical, the tuned-out that democracy is in their best interests and that it can only be enjoyed if actively defended. At the moment, this group of people failing to defend democracy sadly includes most of the politicians in the Democratic Party and most of those who voted for Clinton, as well as millions who understandably voted for Trump in order to make their own protest against the failures of the Democratic elite. This is your audience, Democracy Advocate: address the audience with respect. Organize, march, speak, write, propose solutions; blocking traffic and throwing things only irritates the vast ranks of the uncommitted while offering excuses for a regime crackdown.

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