Blog 1661 – 04.09.2020
It was Winston Churchill who is also attributed as saying, “Democracy is a very bad form of government but I ask you to remember all the others are so much worse.” Democracy is messy, not at all always sweet and neat. People get to say a lot of nasty, stupid, and sometimes irritating things, and free speech in no way means that everyone or even very many will be the best, well-thought out, intelligent, or entertaining speakers. I wrote in my blog yesterday of catching part of one of President Trump’s press conferences regarding the COVID-19. And I know President Obama did not always tell the whole truth, none of us does, even those of us who try hard to. One estimate is that one quarter of his remarks may have been at least partly untrue but President Trump never one to be outdone has averaged over a third of his remarks being false. One quarter, being between Bush 2 and Trump refreshing not just because they were more accurate but also because they were often more intelligent sounding remarks. Myself, a long-time Texas resident and never a fan of Bush 2’s Cowboy Christian speech, I found his remarks as President as unremarkable as his grades at Yale, his service in the Texas Air National Guard during the Vietnam War, and his adventures into businesses on his own. I was embarrassed by his seeming inability to articulate his thoughts during his speeches but not nearly as much as I am shamed by the current office holder’s self aggrandizement, cluelessness, ignorant and hateful speech. But even when we think the best man did not win, or even perhaps did unfairly, democracy is a fairer deal than the other options. It only works though if we refuse to become personality cult worshippers.
We all have egos that we must keep in check. Not that big a problem for most of us because we receive so much help from friends and not so friendly folk reminding us of our shortcomings. But when a politician especially a President surrounds himself only with those eager to kiss his ring or that more rosie-cheeked thing it can indeed become a problem. The job of the U.S. House of Representative, the Senate, the Judiciary, and the Free-Press is not to praise the President but to keep him and his ego in check. Outspoken and often foul-mouthed President, Harry Truman, said, “If you can’t stand the heat stay out of the kitchen” not fire the kitchen staff, the press, and anyone who points out areas where you could improve. A wise leader surrounds himself with wiser people to advise him and does not claimed or act like the expert on all issues. We should have known better when, campaigning for President, Trump said that he was the only one who could save us. Even the Christians’ Jesus shared the center stage with two others, the Father, and the other Unseen One. Hokey as that may seem to non-Christians it is certainly less so that the President’s one-man band approach to governance. I give him credit for knowing how to move a crowd, an audience, but I question his expertise in climate science, human relations, government, many other things, and I actually think his medical degree must have come from the short lived, long defunct, and never really a university, Trump University.
What makes democracy work is its deep-seated distrust of power in the hands of one or a few. Benjamin Franklin said it best in his quote below. And we are called not to be followers, subjects, slaves to the opinions of one or even a few but citizens.
The United Kingdom has a long tradition of having a king or queen though for a long time Parliament has passed the laws and been responsible for more closely conforming them to the will of the people. (For a long time when singing the title song from the movie and play Camelot I kept singing “a law was passed” instead of “a law was made.”
Kings and dictators make laws, democratic representative governments vote on and pass them by majority decision. That is way different.” The President is not “Boss” but still a Public Servant even if the highest elected one.) In the United States arguably one of our greatest Presidents referred to our democratic republic as one created of the people, for the people, and by the people and hoped as many of us do that it shall not perish from the earth. If it does it is less likely to through war than fear. Tyrants, dictators and kings, many and most all, have one thing in common they believe they have a God-given right to reign and rule over us but in a democracy we believe the people decide who to pick, and for how long, to be their representatives. We cannot give in to fear or let them forget that they work for us and not the other way around.
There is in this crisis, talk that this November’s Presidential voter turn out might be drastically affected by the COVID- 19 Virus, which is still expected to be around with perhaps even another wave of infections as deadly as this first one that we are still in the midst of. May democracy prevail in this deliberation and not just the opinion of one or a few. The charges of mass voter fraud have been proven false and yet “the big lie” still has traction. Manipulation of Social Media during the 2016 campaign particularly by the Russian government has been proven and yet the “big lie” that there was none still persists as well.
Votes do not always go as they are supposed to. Even masses can be manipulated by big money sponsored false ad campaigns and foreign government interference. And yet, I still believe that the more people who vote the better chance that the true will of the people will be recorded at the polls. If fear keeps us from going to the polls or being allowed to vote in a more safe manner, democracy will lose and the loyal royalist will win. May that never be so in the United States.
Elizabeth the Second, has been queen longer than any other English queen and though her queenship is largely just a figure-head position still she gave a great speech last week similar to one she gave as a young girl to her country during World War 2. She said some pretty encouraging words in a time when they are so needed, but then I happen to think they always are. Sometimes the most encouraging words are not just sunshine and roses or a pocket full of posies. I personally prefer the encouraging words, “Be Mindful” to the more common expression by which most mean the same thing, “Be careful.” Being careful has a connotation of being full of cares, concerns, perhaps even fears. Those who would be our puppet-masters pull on our strings with fear of monsters only they can save us from, or they try to make us fear our brothers and sisters and even our own ability to choose rightly for ourselves. Democracy demands that we allow no one else to make that choice for us. The price of freedom is diligence, mindfulness, fact checking, and holding government accountable to us and not us to them. Even a seeming benevolent dictator is far worse than the messiest democracy. Dictators seldom are ever really benevolent or stay that way very long historically.
Your friend and fellow traveler,