What is Democracy?

Matt Dolman offers this definition of democracy today—”In the end, democracy is about the idea that you have a say in things.”

Indeed, it is but an idea, an idea that has been interpreted in dozens of ways in countries that purport to value individual rights. So far, the idea has never produced an ideal government… but that’s scarcely surprising. As my art teacher said, “It’s easy to make a perfect painting; first make yourself perfect then…”

Humans are far from perfect so their governments reflect that. The smallest human unit—a single person—is more often than not in two minds about most things and changes his opinion daily. When two people decide to share their lives things seldom improve. Unless both are prepared to make sometimes generous compromises, the union dissolves, evidenced by a roughly fifty percent marriage breakdown rate in most western democracies.

When children are added to the mix, tensions mount and disputes are the norm. Why, then, if families can’t govern themselves peacefully, do we expect a government to create a society devoid of inequality, stress, disputes…?

Of course this inconvenient fact doesn’t stop me and others from constantly offering recipes for better governments.


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