The Newnan Times-Herald


Do we even deserve our democracy?

  • By The Newnan Times-Herald
  • |
  • Sep. 17, 2019 - 5:56 PM

I was always taught that it was a blessing to be born in a country where people have the right to vote and be involved in how their government is run. I was further taught that this was a sacred right and responsibility.

Only 10.83 percent (1 in 10) voted in the District 71 Special Election to the Georgia General Assembly. This was very strange to me.  

Just this past April, I saw so many people either praising or being upset at our state legislators. So many people protesting about guns or abortions on all sides of the issues. 

I heard so many vows of “we’ll see you at the ballot box.” However, when the time came to do something, only 1 in 10 cared enough about their community, their country, their cause, or their very form of government to do even the most basic of duties in a democratic republic. 

Many people express fears that our democracy or our country is under attack (although we disagree on who we should be afraid of), yet when the time comes to do something about their government, only 1 in 10 bother showing up.

Our county holds at least three meetings to get input on TSPLOST and other projects. One or two people bother to show up. City Council meetings: empty. Commission meetings: empty. Budget meetings: empty. 

Ironically, 130 million people vote in the presidential election. Most of those voting in states where their vote is essentially meaningless because their state is so partisan that the result is practically pre-determined. 

Yet, sixty percent turnout is common. Ninety-nine percent of us will never meet a President, yet we vote in that election. However, all of us have access to our mayor, county commissioner, state representative, school board member – people whose policies have major impacts on our lives and our communities – yet we don’t vote, and their meetings remain empty.

Democracy only works if we show up and work at it. You’re either at the table or you’re on the menu.

I’m beginning to wonder, are China and Russia right about us? Is mankind incapable of ruling themselves in a democratic republic form of government? Must we be ruled by a single party or a single dynasty or a single ruler? 

My greatest fear is that, if we don’t start setting an example of voting and participating for our children to emulate, then the very idea of democracy will simply slip away. That would be a tragedy, one in which each of us has the power to prevent. 

Your democracy needs you. It starts here at home.

Cole McSpadden