To the Editor:
I have read a couple of letters to the editor recently from people who complain. I only have one thing I am tired of, and that is complaining. Don't people have enough in their lives to fulfill them? Life is too short to live it in negativity.
Webster's dictionary defines democracy as government by the people, especially the rule of the majority.
A rule by the majority means just that. The majority in the United States have voted and their votes determine the rules. A few people believe their opinions should outweigh the majority.
If you want to change the way things are done, do it through your congressmen. Write letters to those who make the decisions.
Make your voice heard through the proper channels rather than complaining and trying to impose your opinions on the majority. Go to the polls and vote for people who you believe will see your side.
--Shirley, Virginia Beach
I've failed a grand total of nine students in my seven years of teaching, but you would not have passed my 12th-grade Government course with your rudimentary understanding of representative democracy and how it actually works in America. When faced with this freebie of a final exam question
In the context of American democracy, explain what Larry Flynt meant when he said, "Majority rule only works if you're also considering individual rights. Because you can't have five wolves and one sheep voting on what to have for supper."
you would have been unable to discuss our Founding Fathers' fears of a tyranny of the majority or the safeguards they built into the Constitution to prevent such tyranny from arising.
As for effecting change in our current political system by writing letters to our elected representatives or by voting for people who will actually represent our views, gimmee a fuckin' break, Pollyanna. It costs a lot of money to get elected to public office, and our office-holders are responsive to the interests of their donors, not their constituents. I hate to complain, but whenever I write a letter to either of my senators, I get a polite response thanking me for my input and explaining why I am wrong. So much for representative democracy.
Dissent -- or as you call it, complaining -- is the foundation of any healthy democratic system, as the citizens in a democracy share a responsibility for keeping their government in line. The fact that most Americans see democracy as nothing more than voting and occasional letter-writing is precisely what is wrong with American democracy.
But don't take my word for it. Thomas Jefferson, who we haven't heard from in a while, liked "to see the people awake and alert" and wrote that "the spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions, that I wish it to be always kept alive." He, like many modern-day complainers, maintained that "dissent is the highest form of patriotism"
Which more or less translates to, "Bite me, Shirley."