What Makes a Strong Democracy

I have no idea why the book By All Means Available was even on my Kindle. I didn’t know the author or the title, which didn’t attract me. The only aspect that might have interested me was that the author was in the special forces. As a former Marine, I still seem to be intrigued by that stuff.

The author, Michael G. Vickers, led a rather interesting life and career in the military, for government agencies, and even in the CIA. Toward the end of the book (published by Random House, 2023), the author, borrowing from a RAND Corporation study, presented a list of seven attributes necessary to preserve a strong democracy. Obviously, the author is concerned about the direction our country is taking. Here’s the list with my comments after.

  1. A national ambition and will—A third of our country seems to be more interested in a theocracy, autocracy, or dictatorship.
  2. A unified national identity—I keep asking myself, “Who are we?” I don’t like the answer I’m seeing.
  3. Shared opportunities—I see too much of the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer.
  4. An active state—So much of our activity seems to be leading us in a negative direction.
  5. A learning and adaptive society—Our educational system leaves a lot to be desired, especially when politicians and the religious right think they are educators.
  6. Effective institutions—Too many of our institutions are becoming bureaucratic nightmares. (See Congress, institutional churches, and the government.)
  7. Competitive diversity—Why do so many people want to close our borders and promote a white fundamentalist Christian theocracy?

I found this list most provocative. I see it as a playbook of what we need to do to return to a strong flourishing democracy. Let me offer some ideas relating to the above list.

  1. Both political parties and all faith-based organizations need to put our democracy first because until we do, political parties and religions will only be a barnacle on the ship of progress. I have visited five Communist countries (Russia, China, Vietnam, Cuba, and East Germany) as well as a few theocracies and dictatorships. None are very nice!
  2. We already have the foundation stone for our national identity: liberty and justice for all. Let’s make it happen!
  3. Every entity is only as strong as its weakest link. Guaranteeing liberty and justice allows for shared opportunities for all, even the weakest link.
  4. An active state is achieved by a willingness to keep changing and being relevant to the current times. Too many institutions in our country—the institutional church being one—insist on living in the way past.
  5. Civilization has never advanced as quickly as it has in my ninety-two years of life. Unfortunately, often we invent new technology that our society is not necessarily prepared to handle creatively. Artificial intelligence is an example: it’s a wonderful tool that needs to be regulated to make sure we use its positive traits, not its negative ones.
  6. We hang on to too many institutions that no longer serve a useful purpose. My best example would be prisons now designed to cage and dehumanize prisoners. Our present incarceration system is totally ineffective and a disgrace to civilized people and our nation.
  7. Why did the Supreme Court ever get rid of affirmative action and any opportunity for us to build a competitive and diverse society? A strong democracy is built on welcoming immigrants so that we can have competitive diversity.

Just some ideas. Any suggestions?

Peace Love Joy Hope Kindness (I’ve added “Kindness” to my signature, as suggested by a Jewish friend who exudes this trait)



Photo by Christian Lucas on Unsplash

6 thoughts on “What Makes a Strong Democracy”

  1. Keep reminding and pounding out the message. We Americans have thick skulls, and some with one-way or highway signs.

    • Thanks Ashley. My intuition says, Trumpism is a stage and a great deal of our country is ready to move on from his outrageousness. But I’m not stopping supporting Biden until the election is over. Anyway, Joe is just a kid, 12 years younger than me. Peace Love Joy Hope Kindness bill

    • Hi Jules. Thank you for the vote of confidence. I’ve been giving it some thought but for some reason I think my age might be a deterrent. Anyway, I have a fractured right arm I’m not in my top form. Annie and I had a wonderful week of skiing. It was Friday morning about 1130 and we were finished skiing for the weekend. I took off my right ski but my left ski slid down little hill, it my right foot and sent me shoulder first into an asphalt walkway. This was an abrupt way to end the season. It will take 6 to 10 weeks of healing but I’m now in my fourth week and have a lot of usage of my right hand and forearm. Then, to help make it the ski season from hell, I had pneumonia with three weeks of coughing. It’s my new diet: I’ve lost 10 pounds. But I’m on the mend and maybe next week I’ll be in better shape to consider my run for president. Peace Love Joy Hope Kindness bill

  2. Thanks again, Bil, for reminding us. But I fear that our side is too timid and afraid to speak up. It is just a few who are willing to take a stand and that has NOT even been Joe Biden in the past. The world is a mess, due in large part fo people being unable to see or admit what is happening. As MLK, Jr said “Our lives begin to end the day we are silent about things that matter.” Your comments are SO well taken and I stand with those who agree 100% But are you (we) preaching to the choir? the seething, teaming mass for trump is almost 100% Christian.
    Go figure

    • Thanks Shirley. It’s always good to hear from you. In an attempt to be a little positive in a very negative world, I feel (intuition) that the trump era is starting to shut down and, very slowly, his groupies are having had enough. I’m not going to rest on my laurels for this election but I think a healthy landslide victory would certainly curtail the movement. If I remember correctly, about four years ago, we were also very pessimistic but Joe Biden with this common sense approach is going to do well. Peace Love Joy Hope Kindness bill


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