Democracy Tap Power Magic Card, originally uploaded by alachia.

THE CHALLENGE
Take a photo that completes the phrase Democracy is… and share it with the world.
http://www.democracyphotochallenge.america.gov/about.html

I had a hard time thinking about this challenge which seems like it should be rather easy. For most Americans, it is ingrained that Democracy is Freedom. However that’s just the pre-programmed grade school response. Is it true? Well, unfortunately like most grown up answers, it’s never a simple yes or no.

The cynical side of me would like to say “Democracy is an illusion” or “Democracy is at the expense of lesser nations which we exploit”. Or I’d like to say “Democracy is expensive”.

But then I sit back and think about it and that’s where I realize I have done what a lot of people do and mix up capitalism with democracy which unfortunately in the US are often viewed as the synonymous. There’s a valid but pitiful reason I think it is hard for me and others to visualize democracy. Most of don’t practice it! I’m guilty of it for sure but the structure of our government hasn’t exactly been promoting it either.

Can you name any of your State’s representatives of the House or Senate? What are all their stances on alternative energy? What was the last thing they voted for? How many things did they not bother to vote on? What about your local government?

If democracy is our reality, then why does barely 50% of the population bother to vote in our Presidential election? Or if we say screw national government, what is really important is local government, then why do most of us know nothing about those issues? Can you name any of the members on your city council? What’s the name of your mayor? What’s on the agenda this year for them to vote on?

The truth is that most of us are too indifferent as individual citizens and the government isn’t nearly transparent enough for us to really be practicing a solid Democracy. So maybe I was right. Democracy is more an illusion than anything, offering us the “ability to be run by the people” but also be set on autopilot if we choose not to bother.

But the most important thing Democracy is that makes it stand as an amazing governing concept is that it is an enabler for us to have a voice, to have power, to have an effect on the world we want to live in. That is, if we want it. The problem right now is that “DEMOCRACY IS… Untapped Power” but the good news is that the card is still available for play if we want to use it… for now. 🙂 [Insert some Magic the Gathering analogy of a player card stealing ability here]

I’m still struggling to find a decent photo option though. Obviously, I won’t be using the Magic the Gathering Mock up. I just don’t really know how you visualize untapped power.