Let’s Read About Civics…Please!

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The 2020 election in the U.S. is almost over. With an inability to agree on the simplest health or diplomatic facts, and a willingness in each presidential camp to assign selfishness, ignorance and stupidity to those supporting the other candidate rather than seeking common ground, our democracy is in peril.

So, I wonder, what have we been teaching in this regard? Clearly many of us either never learned or have conveniently forgotten how a democracy works–when it does at all…and sometimes it doesn’t.

First of all, if democracy works, it does so based upon the rule of written laws in the country, cities and states in which we live. Those laws are carefully crafted using unambiguous language. Through laws the decisions of elected officials, based upon verifiable evidence and expert testimony offer voters and their representatives clarity. Then what to actually do is determined through conversation about interpreting laws from voters’ various personal moral, political and religious convictions.

However, as we live and work in what is a unique kind of democracy in which each state has dominion over all of the laws that are not addressed in the nation’s laws, the situation is a bit more complex. Here in the U.S., states can create laws for their citizens that don’t apply to residents of other states making it even more important that we all come together to plan and execute steps that work for the nation, not just blindly advance one side of an issue or disagreement.

Some of our voting-age adults and far too many legislators seem to have no idea of the singular significance of compromise–all of us working to find common ground for the common good. Perhaps we ALL need to return, in a sense, to school TOGETHER to study what we used to call Civics, re-establishing a full and complete understanding of the bases for solid American governance.

These rather simple imperatives for groups to work out their differences effectively, based upon written law, verifiable expert opinion and voter sentiment, move a country forward. That’s paired with abandoning individual personal preferences and political party platform convictions, and replacing them with compromising to established laws to maximize the good for our nation and its citizens. If we don’t do this, we find ourselves trading in legal decisions for the entire country for foot-stamping insistence on a particular political or philosophical point of view to govern us all.

Of course, there will be constituencies that prefer to listen to the unverifiable declarations by others about the truth of given evidence, but the results of that argument must not become a matter of shouting volume.

IF we ever needed a reason to teach our children to thoughtfully seek out and READ verifiably authoritative texts, and to carefully LISTEN to bona fide experts and then be careful analyzers of expert testimony, that time is upon us NOW.   

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