What Does Democracy Mean to You?Editor's Note: Articles written by citizens reflect their own opinions and not the views of the Winter Park Voice.
Guest Columnist Charley Williams / July 2, 2022
July 4th is the time to re-examine and to celebrate WHAT democracy means to each of us, to our families. to our close associates, to those with whom we may disagree.
Democracy is fragile. Our unique brand of American democracy is based not only upon representative government but also upon inclusiveness and a healthy respect for the minority point of view. The road to compromise begins with inclusion, healthy discourse and respect.
E Pluribus Unum: “Out of Many, One”
These words from the Great Seal of 1776 have formed our mantra for the past 246 years, thanks to John Adams, Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson. As we approach this July 4th, how will each of us renew those words? We should be intentional about engaging in these conversations. As Winston Churchill said, “A nation which forgets its history has no future.”
A free media is essential to a healthy democracy. Can democracy flourish in an environment where truth is neither honored nor respected? We have seen how propaganda works if unchecked and unchallenged. Misinformation causes real harm. Is social media an asset or a liability? Ask your kids.
One person, one vote. Have we strengthened the right to vote and maintained easy access to the ballot for all citizens? Have we made it more difficult to vote? Is our Achilles heel voter fraud or the simple fact that not enough Americans are voting?
Church and State
Are we maintaining the separation between church and state that was so important to our Founding Fathers?
Our children are our country’s greatest asset. Are we investing enough in healthcare, education and skillsets that nurture productive and engaged future citizens?
Rule of Law
Do we know our own history? The United States is a nation of immigrants. It was almost dissolved over the issue of slavery and was further endangered by the “neo-slavery” which transgressed the rule of law for more than 70 years. With the exception of our native peoples, we need to remember that all our forebears came from somewhere else.
Are our institutions fostering trust by operating in a transparent and responsive manner, providing for the common good? Are our collective efforts focused on safe roads, safe drinking water, healthcare for people when they need it, and a fair and impartial judicial system?
Can we rely upon law enforcement at all levels to provide a safe and secure society even though we now live in a country where the number of guns far outnumbers the number of citizens?
When you start the conversation this July 4th, ask yourself first: “What does democracy mean to me?” Then ask yourself, when was the last time I heard the words: “I might be wrong,” or “I’m sorry?” Having begun the conversation, practice stepping back and listening to the person with whom you’re having this conversation.
More than ever, the weight of our country’s health rests on each of our shoulders. As political scientist Barbara F. Walter maintains, “Democracy only works if we want it to work.” And we have work to do to make sure our Democracy remains strong and healthy.
A well-presented succinct overview of why we Americans should care about the precious yet fragile rights available via our democratic Republic and current threats before our eyes. Time to listen, learn truths, and stand up to protect what we have. Vote with facts and see beyond the immediate. Economic challenges always ebb and flow but democracies and basic rights disappear and don’t return.
What does democracy mean to me? I think about the alternative. The Germans lost their democracy and look what happened, and in my lifetime. The parallels are absolutely frightening.
Thank you, Charley. Words of wisdom.
On the 4th, I celebrate America in all its glory. Independence from the British Crown was extremely hard won. This is not a day for fear, or guilt or shame. It is a day for patriotism, joy and thankfulness. Personally, I count my lucky stars (and stripes) to call the United States of America home. Long may that star spangled banner yet wave.
TODAY I celebrate our Country and our Democracy but I am very worried that we will lose our Democracy. It is up to “We the People” to save it by voting!
Yes! Vote Republican!
Thank you, Charlie!
I worry about the schisms in our great country… not so much that there is disagreement, but how that difference of opinion is manifested in intolerance, even approaching violence.
Somehow, the opposite ends of the political spectrum have lost the ability to empathize with one another, and I do not know how to reestablish that ability. All that I can do on my own is provide a role model for compromise and empathy among my younger friends and hope that the philosophy spreads.
It’s a difficult time for our democracy. We must all work hard to save it.
Thanks Charley, your seven points are well taken. We the people are the ones that will make the difference when we demonstrate love, faith, equality, justice, respect for each other and VOTE. That’s True Democracy.
The US has more incarcerated citizens per capita than any other country on earth:
According to a study by the King’s College London International Centre for Prison Studies, “The United States has the highest prison population rate in the world, 756 per 100,000 of the national population, followed by Russia (629), Rwanda (604), St Kitts & Nevis (588), Cuba (531), U.S. Virgin Is. (512), British Virgin Is. (488), Palau (478), Belarus (468), Belize (455), Bahamas (422), Georgia (415), American Samoa (410), Grenada (408) and Anguilla (401).”
Winter Park’s 4th of July celebration should be renamed “Fantasy Fest.”
A jail cell awaits anyone here who refuses to bow to the State.
Elections are a joke.
Who’s counting our ballots?
How do you KNOW?
Every petition residents have given to WP City Commission in the past decade has been IGNORED.
WP City Commission has outlawed free speech in Winter Park.
It is illegal in Winter Park to circulate a petition on Park Avenue and at the Farmers Market and even to read the Bible quietly on a public sidewalk in your own neighborhood.
You want to know why Winter Park is a total mess?
It’s because The Voice keeps residents on the politicians’ hook by promoting the notion that if you just vote in the next election everything will change.
The traffic will disappear. Historic homes will be remodeled not torn down, Tourists will stay south of Colonial Drive. Crime will disappear. Trees, and not apartments and hotels will be planted. Rollins will give up its expansion ambitions. The bars will close and in their place quaint mom and pop restaurants and shops. And Commissioners will listen to residents and do what residents want.
You know who’s to blame?
The Voice, that’s who.
The Voice is the town crier for the fantasy.
Won’t publish even a single comment detracting from the fictional narrative.
Please specify in what way reading the Bible quietly on a public sidewalk is illegal in Winter Park.
Here is a video of Winter Park arresting 70 year old lady who was reading her Bible quietly and peacefully while standing on the public sidewalk.
Apparently the Winter Park City Commission has redefined reading the Bible in public from a sacred First Amendment right, to a “crime,” punishable by up to six months in jail.
Here is one of the City ordinances, passed by City Commissioners, which is still on the books as of today, July 16, 2022.
Wait. There’s more.
It wasn’t enough for Commissioners to outlaw Bible reading on the public sidewalks in your own neighborhood.
City Commissioners had to outlaw it on Park Avenue and other places around town too.
Here’s that ordinance which City Commissioners call anyone quietly and peacefully reading their Bible a “street performer.”
And that’s not all.
Winter Park now has so many anti-free speech ordinances, together defining the “crime” of free speech so broadly, that for all intents and purposes, today nearly all free speech is illegal in Winter Park