Anyone that knows me, knows that I hate to read. Because of my feelings towards reading I have very rarely (like 6 other times, maybe) decided to actually sit down and read a book that was not part of an assignment for class. However now that I am no longer in school I have decided to challenge my beliefs and start reading. Starting this month and every month after I will start reading a book a month and then tell you how it relates to a right of center ideology or theory.
The first book I read was a futuristic science fiction by author Robert Heinlein. “Starship Troopers” was the book, which was written in 1959 as a post United States futuristic story. In this post American world, only military veterans are “citizens” who are afforded voting privileges and elected representative privileges. In this world all other people are residents with every other right afforded to citizens except the right to vote and run for elected office. Now, I enjoyed the movie “starship troopers” of the story of “the federation vs. the bugs” because I love science fiction movies especially ones with guns, explosions and hot chicks. With that said, I can say that the movie did not even scratch the surface as to the true theme of the book which in my opinion is a tragedy of epic proportions.
There are so many ideas to talk about that come from the book that deal with problems that face America but for this post I want to focus on what I feel is the most important. In the good ol’ US of A ever since I was a child I have heard the response “it’s a free country” whenever someone would tell you “you can’t do that.” Yes indeed we are a free country but rarely does anyone ask why we are a free country.
The book at its core revolves around answering that same childhood taunt. More specifically, it tackles the idea of democracy versus a constitutional republic. The book looks back and critiques the reason why America fell and was defeated in the 1980’s. In the book’s universe a new government was constructed after America fell that was founded on the idea that only military veterans can vote and run for office. This newly formed government organization ended up spreading worldwide.
As many a political scholar know, in a true democracy the majority can crush the minority on any issue the mob, ahem, majority deems to be important. In a constitutional republic however, there are a set of rules that restrict the majority from trampling the rights of the minority. Now to the surprise of many Americans, the United States is a constitutional republic and not a democracy. This is the point, that even though the United States is a constitutional republic, most people, even most elected representatives, are either ignorant to this fact or just don’t care. Hence, the childhood taunt of “it’s a free country” is born from the wrong idea that in a free country we are able to do what we want without restriction or regard for your country.
The point that I am postulating is not the fact that I believe it is a good policy that only military veterans can vote and run for office but as to the reason why it became as such. In numerous discussions in the book the argument is fleshed out as to why only veterans can vote and run for office. The main idea being that only those who have served understand and live under the code of sacrificing themselves for the greater good of the country instead of just for the betterment of their own interests or groups they identify with.
For me, the message is to be a better citizen of this great constitutional republic in which we live. Too often, we find ourselves being grouped into smaller groups and then we begin to think of only the betterment of that smaller group and of our own self interests. We are all Americans and as such we need to think about how our votes and attitudes affect the only group that matters, the American group.