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Nov 11 / Michael Wright

Democracy: still the worst system, except for all the rest

The election is over, thank the Lord above. Half of the country is pleased with the results. The other half grim. But democracy in America has prevailed. No matter what your polititcal beliefs, we should all rejoice in this.

The lines were long on election day. But there was a buoyancy among the citizens waiting with me to vote.

As I looked up and down the lines, I knew many people would disagree with my politics, but I didn’t care at that moment; they didn’t seem to, either. For that one hour, I was pleased to be among involved American citizens. We nodded and smiled at each other. We remarked about the line and the cold weather. Then we cast a ballot. Cast a ballot. Our right, our duty, our privilege. Are we thankful for this? Do we realize people in other parts of the world die for this?

Or do we have an ugly feeling that something is broken in our political system – the one Churchill called the “worst system, except for all the others that have been tried.”

Rory Stewart addresses this in his TED talk “Why democracy matters,” viewed by the Wayne State University TEDsters on election week. Some big questions? Why is it that democracy has, or is perceived to have, such a miserable record and reputation lately? Why is it that good people, well educated and well intentioned, seem to be less than the sum of their parts when they combine to form a democratic government? Why isn’t it easier to implement democracy in other parts of the world that seem to need it so badly? Why don’t we trust politicians? (I had to throw in at least one easy question.) And why do we, beneficiaries of a system that honors and protects the freedom of the individual, perceive more flaws than benefits?

Well, what do you think?

We had an interesting conversation about many things related to our democracy — the election process (bad and long), the electorate (uninformed), the media (biased), the advertising (lies), the system (corrupt). We jumped right in and joined the chorus of negativity. But, after the obligatory bloodletting, we also arrived at the right conclusion, I think. This is our system. We have the responsibility to accept it, ignore it, change it, love it or hate it.

Yes, we’re up against entrenched traditions and big money and incorrigible political machinery. So what? Do something. Inform yourself. Don’t let the fact-checkers do all the work. Do it yourself. Read. Ask. Probe. Vote. Run, if you must.

Because Churchill was right. Democracy is the best system. Period. But he also said “the best argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter.”

Solution: we all need to be above average voters. The “Lake Wobegon” of electorates. Let’s get going. We’ll be in the election line sooner than you think.


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  1. Ellen Wright / Nov 12 2012

    You nailed it Mike – good job!

    • Michael Wright / Nov 13 2012

      Thanks, Ma! Perhaps it’s time for a political discussion.

  2. Patrick Downey / Nov 13 2012

    Mike, we are on the same page in so many areas. What I miss the most are open discussions without the anger and close-mindedness. What I find most disturbing is my growing feeling that I cannot ever know enough about the important situations that prevail in our dynamic world, and, so often, I’m confronted with individuals who know everything there is to know. I’m in awe of such
    omniscience. My ego suffers a constant battering.

    do believe in the system and our salvation will result from inevitible compromise.

    • Michael Wright / Nov 13 2012

      Thanks, Pat. I miss it the discussions, too. But I know it’s still possible. You and I don’t necessarily share the same political views, but we have great discussions, and I always come away with a new point of view. I recall spirited family disagreements ending with the question, often posed by my grandmother, “What does all this have to do with the price of potatoes in Ireland?” Her way of saying, hey, let’s remember we’re still friends. Looking forward to the next discussion! Oh, and don’t be too hard on yourself — someday you may know everything, too.

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