Like everyone reading this, I took Social Studies in school. Ever since then, each corrupted election year I hear the same grumbling. In barber shops, beauty salons, and corner taverns. “Democracy is too messy to get anything done!”
When you look at today’s blatant manipulation by big money, big media, and now big PACs, it’s pretty easy to throw up your hands. Democracy was a great idea, but it simply doesn’t work.
In my case, I ended up later teaching Social Studies. As I remember, I tried to explain democracy was actually MEANT to be messy. There’s no messiness with kings or dictators. No mobs, no protests, and god-save-us no 24/7 screaming on cable television. It’s one-man-rule. Simple! neat! no arguments because there’s nothing you’re allowed to argue about.
Here’s a messy example of democracy at work. Squeeze a dozen very different people inside a room and tell them not to come out until they’ve got a verdict. You can bloody well be sure of some messy arguments. Arguments that may even spill over into pushing, shoving, downright fury. However, at the end of the day, virtually all juries do come out of that room. And they do reach a decision. More times than not, a far fairer one than the whim of any one ruler.
So maybe we shouldn’t bicker this year about whether democracy is working. Oh, it’s working all right. Just like the Founding Fathers intended. Everyone messily pushing, shoving, and brawling to be heard. The real question is: who’s in control of the brawling?
A good old free-for-all-brawl, with everyone’s best interests on the agenda, is very much the mess that was intended. What was not intended is that outsized money and media OWN the brawl. I’m sure I said this in class…but then who remembers what they heard once they pass!
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