Democracy is simple: one person, one vote. Subverting democracy is also simple: you get one vote, I get two.

The reality of a nation of people trying to govern themselves in a democratic manner has never been simple. The reason why it’s not simple is simple: fear. Fear strikes at the root of the human instinctive need to be safe, as identified by Abraham Maslow (Psychological Review, 1943) and others. People will suppress higher level needs (friendship, family, community, self-esteem, etc.) if the instinctive needs (safety, food, shelter, etc.) are not met.

Democracy (working together to govern ourselves in a fair and equitable manner) is easily recognized as a manifestation of higher level human needs, and the current suppression of democracy is a direct result of the vulnerability you feel from the Sept. 11 and subsequent terrorist attacks. You don’t feel safe. You’re scared.

Then, along come politicians who stoke your fear — use your fear to get you to surrender your sense of family, community, and equity. The result is a Mitch McConnell standing in front a microphone bragging that he has prevented hundreds of bills from being voted on during President Obama’s terms in office. He has suppressed your elected representative’s opportunity to vote on legislation important to you. You also get gerrymandering and other acts of voter suppression. I get two votes, you get one — or none.

So, democracy loses, terrorism wins. Is that what you want? “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

Thomas Bunker

Corvallis (Jan. 2)

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