As described by Winston Churchill, “Democracy is the worst political system except for all the others”. And as we suffer through our ongoing political pandemic and naively hope for a November 03 cure the political sausage making gives evidence of Churchill’s observation. On the other hand, if we step back from the splattering mud, we might find some passing amusement in the process. Of course, that is only if we personally or people we care about are not running for office.
The first political campaign I cared about involved the presidential race between Lyndon Johnson and Barry Goldwater in 1964. As I was active military at the time I was quite interested in each candidate’s position on the “police action” in Vietnam. Also, 1964 was my first chance to vote as I had just turned 21 and the 26th Amendment lowering the voting age to 18 was not ratified until 1971. You may recall, if you lived through the ’60’s, or you may have seen old black and white TV images of that famous political advertisement run against Goldwater showing a little girl plucking a daisy as a mushroom cloud rose in front of her. Well, I saw it in 1964 and heard Johnson promise not to send “American boys to die in an Asian war”. As I was one of those American boys, that sounded good to me so I voted for Johnson. That was my first lesson in political reality.
1964 temporarily cured my faith in voting but I relapsed in 1972 when as a young lawyer I decided to save the criminal justice system by supporting a friend of mine in his bid to be elected county prosecutor. Another idealistic attorney friend of mine and I dove head first into election day politics. We stayed up all night making political signs then at o’dark-thirty started putting them up at polling places. We were involved. We felt virtuous.
Then we pulled into a large precinct where many people were lined up to vote. As we each grabbed a sign with our champion’s name on it and jumped out of my old Ford sedan a large woman hustled up to us and asked if we had been sent by “Headquarters”? Neither of us knew what a political party’s headquarters was so we stared at her blankly as she loudly proclaimed, “Well, you better get some ‘supplies’ out here as these people ain’t voting right!” We headed home.
No, democracy is not perfect but it is not all bad and you have to admit it is often interesting. Peg and I still vote every time we have the opportunity even though we are aware our government is staffed with humans, not Plato’s recommended Philosopher Kings. Do we sometimes get disappointed by our choices; certainly. Do we get discouraged; yeah. Do we want any other political system; nope!
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