Wednesday, January 18, 2006

I Only Wish

I could write a post this awesome:

What I the assertion that the Left needs new “ideas,” but doesn’t need to concern itself with diversifying its inner sanctum. Not a shred of recognition that perhaps the ideological stagnation from which the Left suffers may be a result of its major power players still being predominantly white, straight, and male."

Brilliant. Just brilliant.

And to all those who say:

"I don't give a darn what our democracy looks like, its what it IS that matters."

I have this to say:

The basic premise of democracy is not just that every individual has certain rights, or even that those rights are best protected when individuals have a say in government, it's that the latter is true because only they can really know what their wants and needs are* and because no one is perfect, so differences in power are always a temptation for abuse. The fact that such abuse is often done in an attempt to do good is irrelevant; we don't believe in benevolent dictators for a reason.

After all, if lack of diversity in government doesn't have a larger significance, why would it matter if all the people in government are rich elites whose parents were the same? So long as everyone's elected, what's the big deal?

To truly protect the rights of all individuals, government must consist of individuals with a variety of experiences and viewpoints. If gender, race, and class are not treated as meaningless by society at large, then large disparities in gender, race, and class representation in government cannot be considered meaningless by any logical standard of healthy democratic representation.

The men who wrote our consititution based their decisions on that premise. That's why the senate and house are proportioned the way they are, to make sure that heavily populated, more urbanized states don't overwhelm the smaller, more rural states. Different groups - but same idea. In fact, if we were to really follow through with that argument, then we should be worried if minority groups aren't overrepresented.

*This in no way invalidates Shakes assertion that one can indeed speak to issues that affect groups that one is not a part of. The point is not that people are incapable of empathy, but that empathy does no good if it must rely on mind reading as it's main source of information. Paul the Spud can speak well about "women's issues" because he listens to women, and not just those that agree with him. The Democratic Party, on the other hand, hears more men's opinions on "women's issues" than women's opinions on them, simply as a consequence of having fewer women than men in positions of power within the party.

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