Democracy works through ongoing effort of people

Democracy is not a spectator sport. If people fail to participate in a government of the people, then the system breaks down.

This is true at all levels of republican government, where the people subject to a government give their consent to those who will govern them. One person, one vote and majority rules.

In theory, it is perfect in terms of justice, equality and fairness. In practice, however, many ways to subvert the system have been developed during the 229 years the system has worked in this oldest continuous republican democracy.

Yet, just as subversions have been developed, so, too, have countermeasures to boost the system’s immunity. The regimen that defends the system is a combination immunity booster. One element is transparency, a free press independently monitoring government and vetting those seeking public office.

The other element is participation – not just citizens, not just voters, but all the people. It’s not “We the voters of the United States…” or “We the citizens…” – it’s “We the people…”

While campaigning for like-minded candidates is one way to participate, there are other ways: Join voter advocacy groups like the League of Women Voters (lwvccmi.org), which is open to women and men of all ages. Make your positions known during citizen comment times at public meetings. Make your views known to your elected representatives.

You don’t have to be a partisan to participate in democracy. During every election at every polling place, precinct inspectors are needed to assist voters in casting valid ballots, monitor ballot distribution, curb electioneering and generally make sure that voting is on the up-and-up.

To become an inspector and learn how democracy works up-close and personal, registered voters submit an election inspector application to their local city, village or township clerk. For more information, visit the Michigan secretary of state’s website (michigan.gov/sos).

The more participatory the electoral process is, the better it is for democracy. Democracy requires effort, and in a democracy, the people get the government they deserve based on their effort.

A Daily Mining Gazette editorial