Mencken, democracy perfected

Just stumbled upon this meme.

It gave me the creeps.

If such an influential personality like H.L. Mencken had such a warped understanding of the democratic process what can we ask from the proverbial ‘regular guy’?

One question haunts me.
How come so many otherwise bright people fail to grasp the obvious fact that ‘democracy’ is what happens before the voting process?

Voting itself is nothing but logistics, arithmetic and honesty. A process more or less akin to a social survey, one through which the electoral commission determines ‘the will of the people’ at a certain moment. A ‘mechanical’ process that has nothing to do with the living thing encapsulated in the concept of democracy.

…’living thing encapsulated in the concept of democracy’…

Do you think I’m exaggerating?

Then let’s go back to the Agora (the meeting place where the ancient Greeks congregated to discuss the public matters at hand) and watch carefully what happened there before each issue was decided upon.

Everybody who wanted to say something about a subject of interest had the opportunity to make his voice heard.

Yes, that’s the real essence of the democratic process! That’s why the Founding Fathers insisted so much about ‘The Freedom of Expression’. That’s why ‘the right to speak up’ comes First, before all others!

You see, the right to vote has no real meaning if the voters are kept in the dark, if they didn’t had access to all the information available prior to the deciding moment.

People will make a choice regardless of how much information they have, at a given moment, about something, precisely because they think they know everything that is to be known about that something.

That’s why people privy to more information than the ‘general public’ have come to reach the conclusion that the ‘ordinary voter’ is stupid.


Because instead of putting everything on the table and letting ‘the people’ decide in earnest, for some time now some of the ‘pundits’ have been playing a dangerous game of  ‘hide and seek’.
One which has resulted in the profound distrust felt by ‘the people’ about the ‘political establishment’. And in the barely masked contempt displayed by the ‘political elite’ towards the rest of the society.

So, instead of having an open discussion about issues and an atmosphere of trust between the various segments  of the social organism we have to pry bits and pieces of information from those who guard it dearly and such mutual distrust that, if we’ll look around carefully, we’ll notice that we’ve been living, for some time now, way inside ‘paranoia land’.

Can we still pretend that our societies are governed in a democratic manner? That each of us tries to shed some light over his area of expertise and by doing so contributes to all of us avoiding as many of the ‘potholes’ as possible?

‘Cause this is the real essence of democracy.
Not finding the best possible solution to every problem but avoiding the known/foreseeable potholes.

No matter how many of us will study a problem we’ll never find the best solution. After five minutes some fresh information will come about and the erstwhile ‘best’ becomes ‘obsolete’.

Compare this situation to somebody stumbling in a pitfall waiting for all of us, coming  back to warn the rest and not one of us heeding to his cries…