Consider these questions:
- Should the United States be a Christian Nation?
- Should all Arab Americans have extra screening in US airports?
- Should LGBT Americans be prohibited from marrying?
- Should the top 100th of one percent of the wealthiest Americans be taxes at a much higher percentage that the general population?
- Should pornographic websites be prohibited by law?
In the United States is is quite likely that a large part of the electorate would answer “yes” to one or more of these. As I see it, here is the problem:
- Atheists, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, Shinto, Self-Realizationists, New Age Spiritualists, Native American Spiritualists, Objectivists, Agnostics, and every other type of believer or non-believer is afforded equal rights in our nation.
- Most Arab-Americans are great people who have nothing whatsoever to do with terrorism.
- Lesbians and Gays are just as human and just as loving – often more so – as straight people and nearly all homophobia is founded on religion.
- Pornography, whether or not we like it, is nothing more than a particular genre of entertainment.
In situations like this, where a minority must be afforded equality, a simple majority can destroy lives. That is why democracy can not work without checks and balances. Our polity was designed specifically to prohibit this “tyranny of the majority”. It is “liberty” NOT “democracy” upon which America is built. It is LIBERTY that permits EQUALITY to exist – NOT democracy.
Without liberty, we are no better than the nutcase African nations with their anti-Gay laws, the European nations with their state religions, the Muslim nations who stone their gay population to death and where a rape is the victims problem not the perpetrators. Some would like us to be like those nations: A Christian country with religion-driven “moral” codes and sealed borders. Not I.
I prefer living in a land distinguished by it acceptance of people regardless of race, creed, color, religion, or sexual orientation. I prefer liberty to democracy, I prefer universal dignity to dogma. For those reasons and more, when the religious right comes along to again shove its way into the 2016 presidential campaign, I will be there waiting; waiting to fight the onslaught of populist tyranny at every single turn.