The Dearth of Democracy

One of the great old Athenian thinkers departed the deliberative body one day, never to return. Something different, something new and frightening repulsed him.

“When the voting began,” he told his inquisitors, “the democracy ceased.”

We are thousands of years removed from this fine thinker, whose name is lost to history, if he ever actually existed. We ought to hear his words, even now, since his means of decision-making might inform us.

He meant this; the persons who gathered with him, the People of the People, never actually voted on anything. At least, not for a long while, and then ruinously. For most of his long life the hoi polloi talked things out, talked endlessly, talked civilly, talked openly, but they never actually cast a vote.

Their deliberation was by dialogue. Dialogue is now thought to be a two-sided conversation, or perhaps more. The word itself comes from other old Greek compounds, dia-through and logos-the word. To dialogue is to come to a consensus through the word.

Compare if you may, contrast if might, the modern art of politics, American style, wherein the whole focus, indeed, the only purpose of all concerned is Outcome. In this most vicious of Presidential campaigns in my long memory it is all to clear we have retreated to Nietzsche; the end justifies the means, if the end coming to us bothers with justification at all.

I am painfully aware Nietzche never actually said or wrote or perhaps even thought the words-in-a-row attributed to him in the above paragraph. One must read his bloody prose to understand his love of Outcomes and the love his disciples lavished on Results.

I also hold this thought; our Democracy has virtually dissolved as the character of its Chief Executives descended into the mire. The character of our Presidents has degenerated with every downward step into selfish party political tactics, all of which are aimed at, well, the Outcome. The Dearth of our Democracy will not regenerate itself. Its practioners will not vote our way out of the moral mire.

We shall have to insist on better persons.

We shall have to talk more and vote less.

 

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