Christopher Morson: What is democracy

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Amongst the most memorable of many quotable comments that have been ascribed to Winston Churchill is: “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.”

This comment was made after losing his bid for re-election as prime minister of Great Britain shortly after World War II ended.

I am moved to quote him here because the people of Great Britain, despite Churchill’s contribution during the war, chose change over the status quo.

There is a present-day parallel facing us all, not only in the election of our representatives to Washington, D.C., but also locally.

Democracy requires and encourages change. It brings new perspective, opinions and ideas. It stimulates conversation and discussion. It spawns responsibility and self-determination. It is part of the healthy evolution of communities and societies. It is central to the right of free speech.

It is, however, a bit like sausage making — the process can be unpleasant while the result can be delicious.

Change is something that many of us find uncomfortable embracing. In theory, it can be attractive and exciting, but in practice, it can be uncomfortable. There are many aphorisms on this subject, “better the devil you know, than the devil you don’t” being just one.

If we are to solve the problems that confront our country and our community, we need to confront change, open our minds and challenge our candidates and representatives to state their positions, be flexible and seek compromise, not hide behind track records and obfuscations, deliver on their promises, listen to their constituents’ differing opinions, become involved in the conversations, examine their consciences and be real servants of the people.

Not all of them do this, especially after being elected and becoming a longtime incumbent.

We need to participate. They need to listen. They represent us, after all.

We need to take responsibility for ourselves and, after carefully examining and evaluating all the candidates for honesty, diligence, ability to listen, and on their positions, get out there and vote.

That is democracy.

Christopher Morson

Oak Creek

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