Political discourse and the aptness expected of candidates for the Office of the President of the United States have reached the lowest levels in a lifetime. Unless you “write-in” with certitude one that you deem most worthy and qualified for the highest office in the land, you are forced to horse trade your sense of rectitude for the more palatable of distasteful choices.
In the interim, critics in the media and partisan party stalwarts are embroiled in a duel over why one candidate is less noxious than the other. (This is not limited to the Presidential Race.) We the citizens have allowed ourselves to be pulled into this contretemps. We get angry at each other because we cannot understand why others see detestable qualities in their candidate less than they see the despicable qualities of our candidate. This ought not to be. Hopefully, this election year is not a harbinger. We should all hope, for the sake of Our Nation, that we can get to days of mannerly debate between quality, issue-focused candidates that genuinely work together for the People when the election is over, and neighbors remain neighborly in spite of differing viewpoints.
In an address to the House of Commons on 11 November 1947, Winston Churchill, although referring to the British Parliament Act of 1911, spoke to the ideals of democracy and what we should guard against in our government, in our day and time:
… Democracy is not a caucus, obtaining a fixed term of office by promises, and then doing what it likes with the people. We hold that there ought to be a constant relationship between the rulers and the people. “Government of the people, by the people, for the people,” still remains the sovereign definition of democracy. There is no correspondence between this broad conception and the outlook of His Majesty’s Government. Democracy, I must explain to the Lord President, does not mean, “We have got our majority, never mind how, and we have our lease of office for five years, so what are you going to do about it?” That is not democracy, that is only small party patter, which will not go down with the mass of the people of this country…
… The object of the Parliament Act, and the spirit of that Act, were to give effect, not to spasmodic emotions of the electorate, but to the settled, persistent will of the people. What they wanted to do they could do, and what they did not want to do they could stop. All this idea of a handful of men getting hold of the State machine, having the right to make the people do what suits their party and personal interests or doctrines, is completely contrary to every conception of surviving Western democracy. Some reverence for the laws ourselves have made, Some patient force to change them when we will. We accept in the fullest sense of the word the settled and persistent will of the people. All this idea of a group of super men and super-planners, such as we see before us, “playing the angel,” as the French call it, and making the masses of the people do what they think is good for them, without any check or correction, is a violation of democracy. Many forms of Government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time; but there is the broad feeling in our country that the people should rule, continuously rule, and that public opinion, expressed by all constitutional means, should shape, guide, and control the actions of Ministers who are their servants and not their masters…
In an earlier speech to the House of Commons on 8 December 1944 , in a debate over British intervention in Liberated Europe, Sir Churchill summed up much better than I could my own simple view of what democracy should be in our United States:
The question however arises, and one may be permitted to dwell on it for a moment, Who are the friends of democracy, and also how is the word “democracy” to be interpreted? My idea of it is that the plain, humble, common man, just the ordinary man who keeps a wife and family, who goes off to fight for his country when it is in trouble, and goes to the poll at the appropriate time, puts his cross on the ballot paper showing the candidate he wishes to be elected to [Office]—that is the foundation of democracy. And it is also essential to this foundation that this man…or woman, should do this without fear, and without any form of intimidation or victimisation. He marks his ballot paper in, strict secrecy, and then elected representatives meet and together decide what government, or even, in times of stress, what form of government they wish to have in their country. If that is democracy I salute it. I espouse it. I would work for it.
One reading my opening paragraph would expect a less than Pollyannaish purport (and one would be correct). But, I do believe that better days lie ahead and our lot in life will improve if we become more interested, more informed, and put God first, Our Country and the well-being of our neighbor ahead of our own.
However panegyrically one can praise democracy with a hopeful outlook on the future of our political system, or on the contrary if one is gripped in indignation and uttering reproaches while watching the news with a grim outlook, it would be prudent to peruse Ecclesiastes 8 and 9. The wise author of that book left us with words to remember as events unfold that cause us toil and trouble as we Facebook and Tweet:
The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil.
Hopefully, these tidings will tender our hearts and help us to truncate our tirades.