Conclusion: A Christian case for Proportional Representation
This nation was founded by men whose motto was, “No taxation without representation.” I believe that we need to go back to our roots and learn a lesson from history. Mother England ignored the plights of the colonists, all of whom were from different countries and resided in different colonies with different cultures. Eager to remain in power and greedy for more revenue, the British parliament repeatedly stifled the colonists’ rights and taxed them without their having a say in their own affairs. The American Revolution broke out and Britain lost the prestigious treasure that was once theirs. In the same way, a political revolution imminent here in America. It will not be a war where a bunch of gory battles wage until that last soldier is standing. There is beginning to be a backlash in the United States against the lack of connection that the two major parties have with the people. The Donkeys and the Elephants have become almost synonymous with the words American democracy; yet, the leadership is hardly American or democratic at all. The popularity of Dr. Howard Dean’s anti-establishment rhetoric confirms that the American people are becoming weary of the status quo. The Supreme Court ruled that Congress’s futile efforts to contain itself through the McCain-Feingold Act are unconstitutional. This was clearly a victory for third parties all across America.
Third parties should celebrate because the Supreme Court ruling protected their rights to free speech and paved the way for them to be included in American democracy; but ethnic minorities have reason to be happy as well. Projections for the American population in the year 2025 suggest that as the minority grows, the population will become more diverse (Census, 1997). Since the percentage of the population that is Caucasian will decrease and the minority population as a whole will increase, the status quo will no longer have a clear majority. In the event that this trend continues, the time will come when ethnic minorities will be the ethnic majority. Americans should learn the lesson from the American Revolution that taught us that if an establishment continues to violate its citizens’ natural rights, only agitation will be the consequence: therefore it only makes since to transform the system into one that includes everyone so that everyone feels that they are empowered.
David Held (1987) observed in his Models of Democracy that Jean- Jaques Rousseau’s concept of democracy meant that the highest role an individual could achieve was to a be an active citizen (75). I agree with developmental democrats like Rousseau and Mary Wollstonecraft that the most vital function a democracy should have is to give its citizens the power to exercise their own will into law. In order to do so, the maximum number of preferences should be incorporated into the decision-making process. The consensus model would be the best model for achieving that objective because its institutions, particularly the proportional representation electoral system, allows the optimum number of voices to be heard.
What is obviously missing from Held’s and Lijphart’s cases against majoritarianism and its view of power in our democratic-republic is any recognition of a a religious dimension in political thinking. One of the most revered political theologians in the late 20th century is Jürgen Moltmann. In his The Spirit of Life, Moltmann gives a hint that his Social Trinitarianism expressed publicly may mean a form of Christian social democracy (247). Hierarchal and centralized forms of governments, especially within churches, are unnecessary because they are incompatible with Moltmann’s pneumatology (view of the Holy Spirit as equal along with Father and Son). Governments should ideally be covenantal and decentralized, in order to avoid becoming military states [i.e., empires] (252). However, while I can agree for the most part with Moltmann’s theology and its political theology, there is something lacking. The view of power and representation that are crucial for democratic societies. And it is so much easier for him to make suggestions such as having social democracies when, he himself, lives in a country [Germany] where there is PR (proportional representation).
Perhaps it is best if we begin with the doctrine of the priesthood of all believers developed first by Martin Luther. This is the Reformation notion that all members of the body of Christ have connections to God through Christ the mediator. Rather than a priest who represents God for us stand between us and God, every Christian has direct access to God’s presence, by the power of the Holy Spirit. If we expand this doctrine politically, in terms of representation, we must come to the conclusion that everyone has rights, given to them by God, and that they should be allowed to be represented by the person that they choose. Also, secondarily, since the priesthood of all believers is not a doctrine that was originally intended to sustain rugged individualism, representation must be seen as a power to be shared by all citizens in a free society. Thus, we have a theological undergirding for proportional representation.
Truth and Peace,
American Civil Liberties Union. (2000, March 22) Testimony of Executive Director Ira Glasser on Campaign Finance Reform Legislation before the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration. http://www.aclu.org/FreeSpeech/FreeSpeech.cfm?ID=8806&c=20
Held, David. (1987) Models of Democracy. Stanford: Stanford University Press
Lijphart, Arend. (1999) Patterns of Democracy: Government Forms and Performances in Thirty-Six Countries. New Haven: Yale University Press.
Merriam-Webster Dictionary On-line. (2004) http://m-w.com
U.S. Department of Commerce. (1997) http://www.census.gov/prod/3/98pubs/p23-194.pdf
Wickham, DeWayne. (2004, March 3) Sharpton’s presidential campaign disappoints.
USA Today, p.13A.