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New Ulm schools teach a lesson on democracy

Democracy is under attack across this nation. But there are some places where democracy still flourishes and nourishes the daily lives of Americans.

One of those places is the New Ulm Public Schools District, where, during a recent update of the student handbook for the next school year, district administrators encouraged and promoted input and consent from the people actually governed by the handbook — the students themselves.

While the district had previously received input from a student leadership group, the process was expanded to other groups representing other perspectives and more of the student body. By doing this, administrators found students were highly informed and knowledgeable about the content and made several recommendations to make the rules and guidelines better for everybody, including district taxpayers.

Yet this strain of democracy is going away in the dark realm of electoral politics in many state houses across the country.

Fueled by the Big Lie that the 2020 presidential election was somehow rigged — a fake conspiracy theory unsupported by any factual evidence — an insurrection against democracy was launched in a Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol. The attack failed, but the insurrection is ongoing and continuing in many state legislatures. Under the guise of protecting against vote fraud, which has found to be nonexistent after dozens to recounts and investigations, numerous state legislatures have been brazenly altering their election laws to give themselves authority to ignore the popular vote results in a presidential election and award their state’s electoral votes to the candidate of their own party.

This is being done out in open legislative sessions in public votes, so unlike the Big Lie, this is really happening. The usurpers couch their reasoning by claiming authority to do this based on asserting the popular vote is fraudulent.

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear a case on this issue in its next session. Given its ruling on these matters in recent years, it seems poised to uphold these laws, to wit:

Another strategy of this coordinated attack on democracy is voter suppression and oppression, which the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision gutting the Civil Rights Act if 1964 that removed restrictions on states to limit voting rights.

This has resulted in codified laws and regulations limiting the places, ways and means people can vote, purging legally registered voters and making it easier for anyone to challenge voters when they vote. Again, this has been done all out in the open.

In the New Ulm schools small-scale democracy example, you can see what makes democracy so effective. With few exceptions, pooling of ideas from diverse perspectives results in a more positive outcome.

The bigger the group voting on something, the better it is for all — something these present-day usurpers don’t want you to know. “Let’s vote on it,” is a suggestion that almost always works better.

Democracy is not only the best system in government elections. It can and should be applied most everywhere — in the work place, community and, yes, in schools. Democracy puts the “United” in the United States.

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