An autochthon in geology is a formation existing only in the region where it was formed. A mesa, perhaps, or an arroyo, might be considered an authochthon, while an escarpment might run through one region into another.
American Democracy is autochthonous and is the primary reason I believe in American Exceptionalism.
All other Democracies can be compared to American Democracy but no one actually captures the reality of American Democracy.
The Greek City states practiced Democracy early. You remember the ancient quote of the old Greek who said, “When the voting started the Democracy ended.” Their practice had been to gather the learned, influential pater familias in the city market place, where they would talk endlessly about an issue. The famous discipling/mentoring schools produced and were altered by the Democratic practice of over-talking an issue to arrive at a general consensus, completely without a show of hands, ballots or super-PACs.
Of course, this form of Democracy kept out the 47% our Republican candidate says it is not his job to “care about.” The early Democrats in Greece would have agreed, since they represented only the thoughts of a few. Any participatory Democracy would have to leave the ancient Greek system, to risk the pollution of the hoi polloi, the many or the people. We take our word politics from the old word for “the many.”
American Democracy is super inclusive, Mr. Romney’s concerns notwithstanding. American Democracy, like American demographics, is diverse. Whites vote and Blacks, Browns and all the other colors of people. We can rather certainly state the dominant voting color is none of them, nor Red for Republican nor Blue for Populist but Green, for the pocketbook. People of any color will not knowingly vote against their own better interests. American Democracy exists to further the greater good in matters of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
American Democracy, then, is at its original best when it allows persons to vote for their own better interests. To get someone to sacrifice their own good or the good of their family in defense, or in safe infrastructure, or in health care delivery or in any other of a thousand things implies this; the voter can be driven mad by anger, fear or some concomitant hysterical emotion, for only a mad man would act against his own better interests. even if he is only driven mad once every four years.
Jefferson, no mean Democrat in theory, though his Radical Deism drove him to heights of hypocrisy Talleyrand found maddening, said he would “always have a jealous care of the right of election by the people.” He abhorred slavery but owned slaves, hated debt but lived under a crushing burden of debt and had to be persuaded to change his striking Constitutional phrase to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” from a Lockeian phrase he preferred, “life, liberty and the protection of private property.”
Jefferson would have struck down African slavery constitutionally but, since the Southern states would have none of it, happily settled on slavery as a personal practice. He did so because he thought it in his own better interests. The political fall out from the American Civil War settled the issue for then and now, but there is no evidence it is settled forever, for not all men will educate or defend themselves. The ruling class cannot be trusted to do anything other than defend their own better interests at the expense of others.
Yet, for over two hundred years, the American Democracy, exceptional, stumbling, at once pragmatic and impractical, has found a way to govern from the center, where the good of the many dwells. When America was young it needed all its sons and daughters, cherished and care for them, so long as they were of the right skin color. When Americans mixed their blood on the fields of Gettysburg and Antietam to purge the American Original Sin, it began an experiment in Democracy never attempted elsewhere. The French still sniff at Americans but their Democracy has never elected a Black to their own highest office.
Alone among historical Democracies, American Exceptionalism yet exists because of its expansive opportunities. America may yet find a way to expand in other ways but its greatest contribution to history is evolutionary. We can change, for the better, and forever.
That is what forms here.
Opinions expressed here are mine alone.