Wednesday, March 16, 2005

The Definition Of Democracy

Main Entry: de·moc·ra·cy
Pronunciation: di-'mä-kr&-sE
Etymology: Middle French democratie, from Late Latin democratia, from Greek dEmokratia, from dEmos + -kratia -cracy1
a : government by the people; especially : rule of the majority
b : a government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections
2 : a political unit that has a democratic government
3 capitalized : the principles and policies of the Democratic party in the U.S.
4 : the common people especially when constituting the source of political authority
5 : the absence of hereditary or arbitrary class distinctions or privileges

Lately the Bush administration has been obsessed with one word, Democracy. Bush believes the cure to terrorism is democracy. He believes the cure for the Iraqi people is democracy. It's almost as if the Bush administration has a copyright on the word. All this talk about democracy got me curious to look up the acutal definition of democracy as defined by the Webster dictionary. Many in America believe that this nation is the greatest democracy ever to exist. But a closer look at the definition of democracy raises many doubts to whether we are even living in a democracy in 21 century America. More Importantly, should a Christian want to live in a democracy?

First, are we living in a democracy in 21st century America? Definition #5 is the most convicting of the definitions of democracy. It says democracy is, "the absence of hereditary or arbitrary class distinctions or privileges". In a time of obscene and sinful wealth, can anyone honestly say that we live in a democracy that is free of hereditary distinction or class privilege? If you come from a family with the last name Kennedy, Rockefeller or Bush, then you will automatically be born with a head start. The only reason we know of George W. Bush is because he was born into the wealth of Texas oil and not in the South Bronx. Can anyone deny the unfair role of privilege in 21st century America? Maybe Webster's Definition #1 needs to be clarified when it says, "government by the people." A definition for 21st century American democracy should read, "government by the (rich) people."

Second, so if we are not living in a democracy, then what are we living in? A better term to describe 21 century American government is the word called Plutocracy. Webster's defines Plutocracy as...

Main Entry: plu·toc·ra·cy
Pronunciation: plü-'tä-kr&-sE
Function: nounInflected
Form(s): plural -cies
Etymology: Greek ploutokratia, from ploutos wealth; akin to Greek plein to sail, float -- more at FLOW
1 : government by the wealthy
2 : a controlling class of the wealthy- plu·to·crat /'plü-t&-"krat/ noun- plu·to·crat·ic /"plü-t&-'kra-tik/ adjective- plu·to·crat·i·cal·ly /-ti-k(&-)lE/ adverb

Plutocracy fits nicely with Bush's tax cut for the upper crust, but cut education programs out of his budget. I would like to believe every vote is of equal value, but in a time of million dollar special interest groups the idea that every vote counts is fantasy. If a energy corporation donates millions to your campaign and i have no money to donate, who are you going to listen to more? Some will say that in life you have to play the cards you are dealt. In American plutocracy, however, it is hard to succeed when the deck is sacked against you.

Third, should a Christian even want to live in a democracy? Another common definition for democracy is, "a government ruled by the will of the people." Does a Christian want to live a life dictated by the will of the people? Shouldn't a Christian's life be dictated by the will of God? Let the pagans and ungodly live by the will of the people. We as disciples of Christ, however, are called to live according to the will of God. The will of the people and the will of God are so polar opposite from each other. Christianity is the furthest thing from a democracy. Though we make the choice to follow him, we lose our will once we decide to put on Christ as Lord. He or she is no longer free to live as he or she chooses. A Christian dies to themselves and surrenders their will to God. The Christian was bought at a price and it was paid by the blood of Christ.

So this coming week all I ask is that you reconcile 21st century American plutocracy and the definition of democracy. The definition of democracy claims, "the supreme power is vested in the people." As disciples of Christ we must not vest our power in the people. We must vest our supreme power in the supreme God. We are simple and finite creatures who are but a mist in the span of time. Let us finally give all power and authority to the infinite and supreme God who transcends time and space. Where does the power for the Christian reside? It does not reside in the Pentagon, on Capitol Hill or in the White House. The power for the Christian resides in weakness. It resides in Christ crucified.


Coming Next Week: Once and For All


Brent 7:14 PM  

Chris -

Definitely enjoy your site. Well written and thought out. While I don't always agree, I enjoy reading your stuff.

The "definition of democracy" piece caught my attention in particular though. While I am with you on the true power in our lives coming from Christ, I do believe that on earth we will find no better government than a democracy.

Here is my rationale:
1. A "theocracy" is always abused. Modern examples in the Middle East clearly show this. Even Christian theocracies throughout history have failed because humans inevitably use "God" as their excuse to abuse power.

2. Communism and socialism crush the human spirit. Christ has given us an inborn desire to do great things, particularly for Him. These forms of government reward no one for their God-given talents and do not allow the spirit God has given us to thrive.

3. God has set up a "rule by the people" here on earth. Obviously, I don't mean this literally, since I don't believe we are truly in control. What he has done is given us the power to make decisions for good or bad. By sending His Son to die on a tree for our sins, he gave us the power to choose. That is at the heart of democracy, however flawed it is.

While it isn't perfect, I would remind you that we are told that "the poor will always be among us", and this will be true no matter what form of government. At least in a democracy, those poor have a hope of doing something better.


Chris Ewing 2:03 PM  

great thoughts and appreciate the insight. it always nice to know people are reading. the last thing i want is to have everybody agree. I just want to embody the title of the website in that i provide a counter to this new found "Evangelical" majority who highlight the good and completely ignore the bad. We need to be commending the good, but we must also condem the bad. It's what the prophets, Jesus and Paul did.

Democracy maybe the best we got, but it must always be held to account when it inflicts injustice on the children of God here and abroad. I just believe there is more to life than tax breaks and defending the sanctity of marriage. So thanks again for your comments. Please keep reading and keep commenting.


J-Wild 4:47 PM  

Thought you would like this link.

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