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July 11, 2013

WILLIAMS: Do we still believe democracy?

Well, the Fourth of July is over. Fireworks have all been set off. All the patriotic posts have been posted on Facebook – heart-stirring pictures of flags waving and the Founding Fathers signing the Declaration of Independence and touching photos expressing heartfelt gratitude to our soldiers.

But once Fourth of July has come and gone, that uneasy feeling that something ugly is stirring beneath the surface returns. Do we truly still believe in representative democracy or have a significant group of Americans given up on our system? It appears to me from what I hear and read that the latter is true. I don’t believe they are a majority, but they certainly are large enough to undermine our government — and they have.

Call me biased but I lay this on the Republicans and I trace it back to Bill Clinton’s impeachment. Prior to that, the consensus of Americans seemed to be that we had elections and while you may not have agreed with the outcome, the voters got to call the shots. You griped and complained about the administration in power. The bottom line though, was that if you were unhappy, you worked as hard as you could to win the next election.

When Bill Clinton became president, the Republicans were so caught up in Clinton hatred that, for the first time, they made a conscious decision to try to undo an election – not for trumped-up high crimes and misdemeanors, but simply because they were so convinced the voters got it wrong that they felt justified to overrule them.

They had their way with the country for the eight years of the Bush administration. Naturally, lots of Democrats detested just about every minute of that time but we bore up under it, still being convinced that in America, the voters were the ultimate “deciders,” however unfathomable we thought their choice was.

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