Democracy is a Process

Respect for, and use of, the Democratic process is enshrined in the Principles of the UUA. Every Unitarian Universalist congregation is pledged to affirm and promote the idea that every person has a right to participate in the process by which they are governed.

One thing that we ought to be more vocal about, though, is that the democratic process does not begin or end with elections.  Election day is not the process of democracy, but the final expression of the process. The process nominates candidates, designs policy positions and crafts a platform; the process takes years to reach the election stage, and never truly ends. The vote is crucial, but the process that gets us from idea to ballot is important at every step. Even when the votes are counted, the democratic process asks us to evaluate the results, over and over, and amend the system as needed.

We need people who engage. We need them to seek out information. We need them to participate in discussion, even debate, on the issues. We need them to propose their ideas and help us craft the language and the intent of what goes on the ballot. We need them to vote, but we need them to vote at every level, at every step, and to be heard by those in authority.

The price of freedom is responsibility. Democracy, whether direct or representative, grants us a lot of freedom. If we do not appreciate it and take responsibility for participating and holding our representatives accountable, we can expect our freedom and control to slip away as those in power simplify their own workload and consolidate power. This is true in our congregations, our Association, our cities, states, and federal government.

We must remember that democracy is a process, and not a single act.


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