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Why Have Governments At All?

Ray Blain is a retired pediatrician and medical consultant, and author of a forthcoming autobiography Becoming A Doctor; My Dreams and Nightmares.

Humans probably survived in ancient times by families working together since hunting, gathering, production and agriculture were probably found to be more efficient when a group worked together. Banding together was definitely necessary for self-protection from thieves, raiders and mentally deranged predators or groups. It also probably became quickly obvious that groups that were organized and had leaders were more efficient and successful against groups of similar size and ability. As a result tribes, communities, villages, cities, and larger groups evolved and established governing structures.

But groups need leaders or decision making becomes a source of discord, division and dissolution resulting in loss of the benefits of unity. The simplest form of leadership is a single person as king, queen, dictator or religious guru. Unfortunately, benign single leaders often, if not usually as history so often relates become corrupted by power and the desire to keep it. Societies have developed several mechanisms to try to keep single leaders within boundaries acceptable to the governed. They have been given a variety of names over time like princes, knights, barons, marquees, bishops, etc. These mitigating leaders rose to power by means of force of combat, economics, popularity or heredity. In some fortunate newer societies that have come to power by being selected by the governed.

Thus governments came into being. The primary but not sole purpose of government is to protect the group and its members from eternal or internal harm. The danger may be from people or nature.

Until recently, many people living in other countries, under similar or very different forms of government ranging from tyrannical sadistic dictators to nominal democracies have seen the United States as a beacon of liberty shining from a torch in New York harbor.

As a teenager I remember participating in American Legion Oratorical contests devoted to expounding the wisdom and foresight of the founding fathers of our representative republic. We were taught in school that we live in a democracy with rights and responsibilities. Recent history has shown that our government is not a simple democracy but is actually an aristocracy with flaws:

1) We the people vote but not everyone who is supposed to be able to, can. Some power greedy people who are supposed to represent the people are even now trying to limit the franchise by making it more difficult for many to vote, including the handicapped and poor.





2) Senators originally were picked by state legislatures and not by the people directly.

3) Women and the unpropertied were originally denied the vote;

4) Even today you do not directly elect the President or Vice-President. Members of an oligarchy called the Electoral College actually pick who wins those offices. Many states are now trying to control who gets to be an elector in spite of how the popular vote goes in some states,

5) Small states have more electors per voter than large population states. As an example, 1/9 of voters live in California but California has far fewer than 1/9 of the member of the Electoral College. If you divide the number of registered voters by the number of electoral votes California has 1 Elector for about every 401,000 voters, North and South Dakota has about 1/195,000 voters and Wyoming has 1/90,000. In effect each Wyoming elector (and thus voter) has over 4 times as much power in choosing the Executive Branch as a Californian.

6) Recent management of the Presidential pardoning power and Executive Orders, Departments of Justice, Congressional power over Supreme Court membership, Filibuster abuse to prevent discussion, debate and votes on possible legislation all seem to be malfunctioning, being abused or causing gridlock. Who suffers as a consequence? The people who are supposed to be the foundation of democratic power, and its primary beneficiary. I may not always agree with the majority but I thought that that will of the majority was the basis of a democratic form of government.

7) The wealthy are able to buy power through political SuperPacs and lobbyists that the rest of us have no ability to prevent under current law.

What has happened to the idea that chaos fosters anarchy, self-destruction and loss of true liberty? What has happened to the ideal that with democracy comes responsibly, mutual trust, respect, safety, and aid? Those who want dictatorship, violence, chaos and destruction of democracy should be free to go elsewhere, establish their own hell there and leave our democracy to those of us who love, cherish serve and wish to continue it. California in many ways is demonstrating what democracy can be like and achieve even when people disagree. That's why I live in California.

~ Raymond Leo Blain











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