America's Democracy - A Work In Progress

Written By Darryl M. Gumm Oct 2004 | Updated Feb 2020

In June of 2001, I became more active in presidential politics than I have ever been in my adult life. Because of my intense past involvement in a local non-profit organization, even though I had very strong political feelings, I limited my activity to simply voting in 1992 and 1996, to protect the organization I headed. Prior to that, I voted, but seldom did much more.

Governor Howard Dean, and the arrogant and vicious politics of President George W. Bush, provided me with a strong incentive to be more than a casual voter. Having resigned from that local non-profit organization, also afforded me the right to express my political views freely and without reservation.

For the first time ever, I donated money to a couple presidential campaigns. For the first time ever, I placed political stickers on my classic 1965 VW Beetle. I also purchased newspaper ads supporting my candidates of choice and launched a website which endorsed one of those candidates. I wrote letters to leaders of both major political parties and expressed my views in a series of letters to newspapers and media organizations all across America.

On November 2nd, 2004, I was one of the first to cast my votes in my hometown of Kohler, Wisconsin.

What I have learned through my involvement in Americaís Democracy, is how it is a work in progress. It isnít perfect and it isnít quite the democracy our Founding Fathers had hoped for. Big money has far too much influence and the average American far too little influence. Much of politics is downright ruthless, filled with lies and half-truths, and discourages productive and objective discussion of the vital issues facing our nation. However, when enough people care enough to get involved, with their hearts in the right place, change can and will take place.

Another lesson I learned is how divided America is. There is very little respect for opposing viewpoints and not much interest in compromise. Finding common ground, honesty and civility have been declared weaknesses rather than required virtues. Family members and co-workers are pitted against each other, unwilling to budge even one inch to find something to agree on and religion is exploited for political gain.

We can and must do better, and that is everyoneís responsibility as a United States citizen.