Op/Ed: When democracy dies

By Lisa Longo, Special to The Times

Lisa Longo

Democracy fails when the few are permitted to hijack the concerns of the many. When elections become referendums on personalities and political parties are used as weapons against advocates and activists.

When any party becomes a tactical weapon for special interest it loses all ability to speak for, or to, the people.

We are at a pivotal point. We see the destructive use of money in politics. Literally trying to demonize those who disagree rather than engage in civil discourse. Everyone backing into their respective corners, building walls around their ideology and desperate to hold onto their little piece of turf.

Democracy fails when we allow our political process to be weaponized. When those too afraid to move forward block those who want to create real and lasting change. And yes, when the good of the many is sacrificed for the arrogance or greed of the few.

We all see this every day. Special interest money polluting our political environment as surely as  fracking and pipelines are destroying our land, air and water. Dark and murky money flowing through our political systems no less dangerous then fracking byproducts flowing through a dangerous pipeline across our Commonwealth.

Recently there have been repeated attacks on democratic process. I’m seeing and hearing stories every day. Receiving emails about elected officials misusing Roberts Rules. Allowing attacks and censures against others for not agreeing and trying to expose corruption. Withholding information, hiding facts, calls to change bylaws, limit discourse, even take away the voice and will of the people and replace with the will of the few. Seemingly more concerned with protecting their position rather than doing with is best for the many.

This is how democracy fails.

The few are trying to hijack democracy. And this does not bode well for November. It is exactly this type of nonsense that drove thousands from the two major political parties and into “resistance” groups. We see increases in third party voter registration in many areas and campaigns are told over and over voters want real change not more of the same.

But over and over again real change is blocked by the few at the expense of the many.

Democracy fails when we allow fear to trump ethics. When we reject facts and allow harassment. When we see injustice and turn away. Democracy fails when we excuse bad actors because they claim to be allies.

Democracy doesn’t fail us. We fail democracy.


Lisa Longo is Treasurer of the Pennsylvania Democrats Women’s Caucus and was recently appointed to the Biden for America Public Education Policy Committee. She is the former President of the Phoenixville Area School District Board and writes often on politics and public policy.

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