The EU

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Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Preserving Democracy

For John, BLUFAt the end of the day it is like the voting booth.  You are all alone and must make the decision for yourself.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Somewhere out there is a magazine, a bimonthly, titled Boston Review.  I recognized the name of one of the editors, Professor Junot Díaz, from an English Class I took at UMass Lowell, a while back.  We read his Pulitzer Prize winning The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.  It is a novel on a US/DomRep axis.  Back in the day when Dominican Diplomat Profirio Rubirosa had his own B-25 to fly around.

At any rate, the Boston Review published an article on the recent NSA Imbroglio.  Someone I am acquainted with wrote:

If the Boston Review ever fails to critique the National Security Apparatus, I shall feel compelled to ring up Old Lucifer and inquire about the blizzard in Hades.
But, enough of judging the source.  The article is titled "What the Snowden Affair Tells Us About American Democracy".  The author, Professor Archon Fung, of the Kennedy School of Government, thinks that an Edward Snowden once in a while is good for Democracy.
We will always need whistle-blowers because democratic institutions cannot be perfect.  Inherent in the nature of discretionary power is that politicians and policy makers inevitably act—sometimes legally and sometimes not—in ways are that are unjust or abuse the public’s trust.  In the face of such wrong, each citizen must come to his or her own considered judgment about whether a law (that black people must sit at the back of the bus), a policy (to keep secret deliberations that the country is engaged in a war that it cannot win), or an order (to abuse military prisoners) is so wrong that she should break the law or otherwise disobey authority to bring public attention.

The philosopher John Rawls wrote in A Theory of Justice that:

In a democratic society, each citizen is responsible for his interpretation of the principles of justice and his conduct in light of them. . . . The final court of appeal is not the court, nor the executive, nor the legislature, but the electorate as a whole.  The civilly disobedient appeal in a special way to this body.
In the final instance, we cannot count on the law, judges, Congress, or the president to get it right.  The buck stops with individual citizens.  That is the lesson of Nuremburg, the Milgram experiments, and the Pentagon Papers.
Local elected officials are the same as Federal officials.  They are almost all doing what they think is right.  Once in a while they stray and it is up to us, as individual citizens to blow the whistle.  If they are smart they will eventually come around and say "thanks for that".  Well, smart and just a little humble.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Contributors include the likes of Noam Chomsky, Susan Sontag, Eliot Spitzer and Joe Biden.  On the other hand, it also includes Lani Guinier and Nir Rosen, who I like.

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