Process is the heart of our democracy. The recent lame duck session of the Wisconsin Legislature was an end-run around fair play, regardless of the merit or lack of merit in the legislation that was passed. The lame duck disrespected the voters and reduced trust in the electorate – just what we don’t need in this period of extreme polarization.
Historically, the basic difference between the two major political parties is disagreement on how much government should do, and at what cost. In all the years of our democratic republic, this debate has resulted in leaning sometimes toward a larger role for government, and sometimes toward a smaller role – with, generally, Democrats favoring the former and Republicans favoring the latter.
Whatever the specific issues, democracy has been maintained, because our system of government is based on fair procedures. When too much power accrues in one party or the other, fairness erodes and our system becomes less stable.
Either party and any leader is susceptible to abusing power. This is why gerrymandering is so destructive to our form of government. It is why an unbiased census is so necessary. It is why citizens must always be vigilant – not take democracy for granted, and cry foul when norms of fair procedure are not followed.
Protecting our form of government is not a partisan issue. Abuses as they occur must be brought to light and acted upon, or we risk eventual permanent change to the system that ensures our successful democracy.