Make no mistake, we are not a democracy. We are a republic. And this is actually a good thing. I’m not going to get into all the details that separate the two but the basic gist is that in a republic, such as ours, everyone is granted protection, there is a universal set of laws that govern our activities and we utilize a representative government to get our business done. On the other hand, in a strict democracy, everyone has a vote on everything and all that counts is the majority will at that time that the majority decides what it wants to do. And this is not necessarily a good thing. It sets up a system where mob-rule takes over and leads to the term “tyranny of the majority”. It gets more complex than that and I’ve left a lot out, but you get the point. If you need an example, how about this:
I do not vote in Congress unless I am elected to Congress (state or federal). I can bitch and moan at my representative and vote for a representative I like better, but the responsibility for his or her vote is his or hers alone. I really have very little power. And consequently, the “mob” has very little power. And because of our Constitution, we all have protections and a set of laws that can’t be easily violated. Imagine if we were all required to vote for every act of state legislature? We would do nothing else. This is a pretty extreme example of a pure democracy, but this is a pretty good example for you.
So what about the Chariho/NEA negotiations? Should we all get a vote in that? A lot of people think that the negotiations should be public. Essentially, that we should all be able to see what is going on so that we can influence the outcome. Let’s be honest, if we have no intention of trying to influence the outcome, there is really no need to observe the process, is there? Clearly, from some of the discussions I have read on other local forums, we are all too busy to participate in our own children’s education. If this is the case (and it seems like it is), we certainly don’t have the free time to observe the process unless we plan to corrupt it. The Westerly Sun has the following quote:
The school committee considered conducting negotiations publicly, but decided that would be inefficient, said Eaves.
Hawkins said, “It makes it extremely difficult to conduct negotiations with the entire public.”
And the point is well made. We elected these fools to the School Board. Felkner the fool, Eaves the fool, McQuade the fool, etc. Obviosuly, they are all fools. Who but a fool would want such a dismal job? But we elected them and it is their job to do what we elected them for. It is not our job, as the citizenry, to negotiate teacher contracts. Similarly, it is not our job to go busting drug dealers or stopping speeders along I-95. We all have a job in this Republic. The Chariho system runs like every other facet of Republic America. We elected them, they do the job. They do not want the process to be public and that is their decision. If, however, we don’t like the results of these negotiations, it is our job to vote these fools out and vote in some new fools.
The other aspect to this that I have really left out is that teachers have rights too. Most people do not seem to realize that. The teachers and their union are treated like criminals and miscreants. Slouches, bums, on-the-dole, good-for-nothing slime balls. Why do we hate education so much in America? Why do we hate teachers? We refuse to teach our own kids and then get upset when we don’t think someone else is doing a good enough job? Are we all just a bunch of self-conscious stupid monkeys who fear learnin’ and edumacation? Or are we just a bunch of assholes? I’m voting for us all being assholes.
And the whole issue of transparency is overblown. It is generally wasted effort. People who want to get away with something will get away with something, transparency or not. I’ve seen a bunch of Town Councils violate Open Meetings Laws and it turns out, there are no consequences! Shinning a bright light on anything only matters if anyone cares. And no one does…
Here’s a fun example: If I want to, I could get the FBI’s file on me (assuming they have one and I doubt I’m important enough for them to care about me). So consider my getting the file an act of “transparency”. What on god’s green Earth am I going to do with it if I get it? What does it matter if I get it? It’s a pointless exercise, but it might give me something to do with all my free time.