Democracy in Action

In case there are some readers here not familiar with the precise operation of democracy as used in the American framework, I will give a short example from a real set of events.

In the last decade of the twentieth century, there was a movement to create a day to honor Dr. Martin Luther King. It was to be called “Civil Rights Day” but was to coincide with Dr. King’s birthday, thus calling it Civil Rights Day though everyone would call it Martin Luther King Day in order to avoid any confusion.

Most states simply submitted the bill for the holiday to their state legislatures and it was passed, usually by voice vote acclamation.

In Arizona, however, the process occurred a little differently: it was put on the ballot and offered up to the populace to vote on it.

On election night, the results were coming in and they looked favorable to the backers of the bill. One gentleman from the NAACP was interviewed around 11 p.m. that evening when the votes were 2 to 1 in favor of the holiday and he said the voice of the people had spoken. The reporter tasked him to pronounce his view if something would happen and the bill was defeated.

The gentleman turned to look at the tally board and said, “I think this vote will decide the issue once and for all, and all sides will simply have to live with it.”

A very magnanimous gesture, I assure you. But a gesture was all it seemed to be because around 2 a.m. the numbers grew uncomfortably close and by 3 a.m. the “nays” pulled ahead, getting further ahead with each passing minute.

The gentleman from the NAACP was interviewed again at this point and he was extremely hot under the color. “We will fight back on this, I assure you. We will come back again and again until this measure passes.”

So, Democracy in this man’s mind was that the will of the people should prevail, as long as they were in agreement with him. Otherwise he would do anything he could to get the measure passed.

And that, in a nutshell, is what democracy is all about.

Of course, over the next few weeks, the people of Arizona also learned what Democracy was about when the organizations planning conventions in the state began canceling because of the vote.

The NFL even canceled the Super Bowl scheduled in Arizona that year because of the vote.

Needless to say, Arizona saw the error of their ways and very democratically passed the bill in the next election.

Of course, the NFL offices themselves did not celebrate the Martin Luther King Day because the holiday celebration was so close to the aforementioned Super Bowl that they were far to busy to honor Martin Luther King Day. Well, that is, except to break contracts with others made in good faith, who might also choose to work on M.L.K. Day.

Isn’t Democracy a marvel!?

And, in case anyone was wondering, yes, I did vote for the MLK holiday the first time around.

But before anyone starts thinking I am that idealistic, I would have as quickly voted for a Benjamin Banneker Day, Frederick Douglass Day, Thomas Jefferson Day, Benjamin Franklin Day, or even a Mickey Mouse Day.

(I’m never one to turn down any sort of Federally-mandated holiday.)

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