With the election of Donald J Trump as the next president of the United States, we bring you a repeat of the video interview with Friends Marge Abbott and Noah Baker Merrill, “Why Do Quakers Care About Politics?” You can find the original, along with transcripts and commentary, on QuakerSpeak.
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1 thought on “A Quaker Vision for Political Activism”
My own current “prophetic vision” is that someday all nations across the world will elect their governments through Annual General Elections. Modern representative democracy remains my “true religion” (in the Latin sense of the word religio) and I am sorely aware that all religions need annual festivals to inculcate and celebrate their world view. As a to-the-marrow-of-my-bones pacifist, I swoon at the symbolism of the two red lines down the centre of the House of Commons in London, which separates Her Majesty’s loyal Government from Her Majesty’s loyal Opposition. The distance between the two red lines is a symbolic “two broad swords”, meaning swords may clash and sparks may fly… but no-one can physically injure their opponent.
Besides all the symbolism of Annual General Elections, the practicalities would also force better consensus building, better accountability, better transparency, better long-term planning, better stability. Instead of “pre-election” and “post-election” budgets, we The People would vote on alternate budgets put forward by each party.
Democracy works because most people agree about most things most of the time (most Bills throughout the world pass through legislatures with overwhelming support – Oppositions do NOT “oppose everything”). With Annual General Elections we The People would be more informed about just WHERE & WHAT disagreements there are, and be able to vote for the party we are most closely aligned to – giving a stronger mandate for change where needed, and/or informing those who want change just how the general populace currently stands.
And the cost? Well, as we know, the cost of freedom is eternal vigilance. Likewise peace methinks. After the biggest anti-war rallies in history before the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the US, UK & Australian governments still went ahead. That would/could never have occurred if each of those governments had to face an election that year. How much has the war cost us all?
In Australia, we have built a fairly good House of democracy. Now we need to learn how to maintain it properly. Annual General Elections will usher in a culture of democratic ideals, where differing (but valid) ideas and plans for the future clash – not swords, guns or physical weaponry.
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