Wednesday, July 26, 2006

The Government We Deserve

The Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw once mused “Democracy is a system ensuring that the people are governed no better than they deserve.” He was right. The irony of democracy is that we don’t always elect the best person for the job. But we’ll usually elect the most appropriate.

One reason is because the best person for the job usually isn’t running for election. “Politicians” do a good job of getting elected because, by definition, that’s what they do for a living. But they are rarely the best citizens available. And they are not always the best law-makers. They are usually simply the last ones standing — the least of an abundance of evils.

The good news is that — over the long run — things have a way of working out. After a period of time, a consensus develops. It may not be the one that everybody agrees with, but one that everybody can live with.

And that’s the beauty of the democratic system. Properly done, no one person or ideology can exceed the generally accepted boundaries of common sense because enough other voices will eventually join in unison to act as a buffering agent. In the end, wisdom will prevail.

In the short run, however, the news isn’t always good. The wrong people are often elected. Bad laws are enacted. Corruption erupts. And consequences are suffered.

The next time you are lamenting over the loss of your candidate, or the stupidity of recent legislation, remember the words of Henry Longfellow during the darkest hours of the American Civil War:
  “The wrong shall fail, the right prevail.”

Things have a way of working themselves out.

No comments: