Defend democracy

Letter to the editor

Posted: Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Andrew Soristo, in his recent letter, "Shut up and vote," has a notion of democracy that I hope is not widely shared. The definition of citizenship that I was raised with involves taking an active responsibility for ones country and community, and part of that duty is taking part in public discourse. Government certainly has no monopoly on vision or, as recent contortions of military intelligence have revealed, on the truth.

Where are the weapons of mass destruction? Why are we dying in Iraq? Is it necessary to discard the Geneva Convention and many other international accords to fight terrorism? Why should exclusion and prejudice be written into the Constitution? If we go into deficit and eliminate corporate taxation, how can we pay for Social Security for the baby boomers? Is it consistent to penalize schools for leaving children behind while failing to pay to bring them on board. Do oil prices rise because supply is low or because energy conservation measures have not been taken for years, causing record demand? These are all good questions that in an election year need to be asked.

To argue that we can't all have opinions about these things because our news is filtered by some faceless committee is disingenuous. The Internet is full of alternate views backed up by direct links to original sources. A simple Google search can discover that "top secret" dossiers on WMD used in State of the Union speeches have been plagiarized word for word from some graduate student's university thesis.

Finally, to say we should have no voice on military affairs when our family, friends, and neighbors are fighting and dying for reasons that are not made clear to us, is simply ridiculous.

We live in a democracy that we all must defend everyday, not just during elections.

Sam Nelson

Joondanna, Australia

formerly of Juneau

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