The Democracy Book-Principle 15

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Principle 15: No person or group can make laws unless elected by the people to be lawmakers.

Group of elected officials

In a democracy the people have the final say! Their representatives make the laws. Not the military, not the church and not the rich. All people vote and elect lawmakers and managers. The managers do the managing of day-to-day operations of the society. The lawmakers make whatever laws are needed.  Lawmakers are the only ones who can do this. They are the only ones who are the elected representatives of the people for making laws. That is the only way they get their power. They are elected by the people. That means the people put their power in the hands of the lawmakers for this specific purpose—to make laws as needed. Clearly, the lawmakers get their power from the  people.  The church was not elected by the people, the army was not elected by the people, and the rich were not elected by the people. So they do not have the right to make laws. The people, through those they elect, make the laws that they will live by. This is how it works in a democracy. We make the laws that we will live by.


The next day an interesting thing happened. Someone grabbed Nadesh’s arm and started excitedly pulling him toward the barn at the back of the property.

“We just found these!” he panted, out of breath. “Don’t know how long they’ve been there!”

“Don’t know how long WHAT has been there?!” Nadesh demanded.

“You’ll see—hurry up, come on now!” That was all the answer he got. So he ran along to the barn.  By the time he got there the other boy was already headed up the ladder to the hay loft. Nadesh could hear other kids already up there.

When he got to the top someone thrust a paper in his hand. And there it was. This was the cause of all the commotion. He could hardly believe his own eyes! He was staring at a set of laws the military boys had planned to put into effect.

“I’ll read them, you are too stunned,” said Janice. And she took the paper and started to read. The first one said.

“All citizens will obey the military or be subject to punishment.” She read on, about how the people had to pay taxes directly to the military, and so on. But Nadesh was only half hearing. He just couldn’t believe it! How could some people be so wrong, so to think they had a right to tell others how to live? But then he heard someone say,

“We should have had the religious leaders make the laws; at least they were nicer and didn’t want to treat us so bad!” This made Nadesh really furious!

“Don’t you get it?!” he bellowed! “We live in a democracy, WE, us, you and me. We make the laws— through our elected lawmakers. WE the people are in charge of ourselves! We don’t need the religious leaders, the rich, or the military or anyone else to make laws for us. ONLY THOSE WE ELECT GET TO MAKE LAWS THAT WE HAVE TO LIVE BY!” He took a few seconds to catch his breath. He calmed down a bit. “We can have a group meeting and re-explain this to everyone.  Then we can build a fire and burn up these false laws, these laws that are not real because they were not made by elected lawmakers. We ARE a democracy!”

They quietly climbed down the ladder and left the barn. That night they had the meeting and it was clear in everyone’s mind that in a democracy the ONLY people who can make laws are those who the people elect. They burned the false laws in the fire.

At Petra’s suggestion, they went around the fire and each one there said why he or she liked living in a democracy. They each gave different reasons, but in the end, the reasons were about being free, getting to live how I want to and not how someone else wants me to. As they left the fire that night Petra was thinking, “I think democracy is just natural for everyone in the world because everyone in the world wants to be free.” Thinking that made her feel good all over. Wow! How wonderful! All the world living in a democracy and enjoying freedom! She smiled all the way to her bed and was still smiling when she fell asleep. To be continued....

Activity: Tell the students you want to make a point more clear so you will lead them through an activity. Tell them to notice how they like what is about to happen. Now, choose someone to act as king. Make a big show of empowering the king to rule the people. He gets to make the laws.  Have the king tell the people what to do. (Line up against the wall, sit in seats, all the boys get a new name, etc.) Point out that although the king may have been nice, he was in charge, not them. Now pick out a few students to be the army. Have them make laws as did the king. You may want to vary what the army has the people do by making it different than what the king had them do. Or they can be the same. Then have the students elect 2 or 3 to be lawmakers. Have the lawmakers tell them what to do. Look for a time when some don’t like what the elected
lawmakers had told them to do. Stop the process and announce there will be a new election.  Maybe someone new will be elected, and maybe not. Then have the new lawmakers try their hand at telling the people what to do. Make sure the students get the point that when lawmakers are elected, people can replace them if they don’t like how they made laws. Point out that with kings and armies being lawmakers there is NO replacement method! You are stuck with them.  Discuss which way felt most fair, which way they liked best. (Armies and/or single rulers can be efficient and democracies can be inefficient, but most people would rather be in charge of themselves than to be under the charge of someone else.)

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