There’s a prevalent notion out there, outside of my typical circle, that democracy as a system is intended to be majority rules. Most Americans are Christian; therefore, we’re a Christian nation. Most Americans are straight; therefore, our laws should only permit heterosexual relationships. Most Americans are monosexual; therefore, our laws should only respect binary relationships. I have no evidence of it, but I have this gut feeling that this is not the theory behind democracy. Rather, it’s the fear of democratic theory…the thing we’re supposed to fight against as a democratic society. It’s bread and circuses. It’s voting in what you want rather than what is best for all. Democratic theory depends on the idea that each one of us will act in a way that is best for all of us. It’s a very optimistic system! What alarms me is that it’s failing, just as its critics said it would. This alarms me because I’m optimistic. I believe that, at heart, we all want the best for each other.
The bad part, the horrible part, is that I think the semi-democracy in the US is failing not because people don’t have the best intentions. I’ve admitted been watching some incendiary material of late. Jesus Camp scared the crap out of me, for example. You can’t tell me that the woman who runs that camp doesn’t think she’s doing a good thing. You can’t tell me that little mulleted boy thinks he’s excluding people or being prejudiced. He thinks that what he’s doing will lead us all to goodness. That is, it’s the best intentions of the majority that are about to screw the rest of us.
I’m not saying there aren’t power-hungry jerks taking advantage of the good intentions, but at heart, the intentions of all these “nuts” trying to convert the rest of us are *good*. That’s incredibly difficult to fight. It’s easy to fight the power-hungry jerks. It’s easy to tell them they’re wrong…it’s easy to prove that they’re wrong. How do you prove to someone who think they’re saving your life that they’re not? To them, they’re holding your hand as you dangle helplessly above a pool of lava. They’re cutting off your circulation to hold onto you as you flail about crazily. How do you fight that kind of perception?
It scares the hell out of me, because I don’t think you can fight it or refute it. I don’t think any amount of books or marches or LJ icons will convince the people with good intentions that their intentions aren’t that good after all. And, it scares me, because those power-hungry jerks are using that force to take power, and they’ve figured out a pretty damn good strategy to do so.