“This is what democracy looks like!”

The title of this post is a familiar refrain at ‘occupy’ rallies around the country.

I’m pretty sure that the Occupiers are saying that they—their meetings, their committees, even their drum circles—are the embodiment of true democracy.

Ironically, though, the forced removal of the protesters by governments around the nation also represents democracy in action. After all, the U.S. Park Police who recently tussled with Occupy DC protesters answer to democratically-elected officials. And the city counselors who voted to remove the Occupy Oakland protesters answer to an electorate every two years.

Used with permission from Alex Hoffman

I find it interesting, then, that the occupiers reflexively celebrate democracy despite the fact that it seems to be working against them. They are not at all unique in this. I think a lot of people are so accustomed to equating democracy with other warm feelings like mom and apple pie that they just assume that to make something democratic is to make it good. This certainly seemed to be the theme of Michael Moore’s Capitalism: A Love Story. It ends with a plea to replace capitalism with democracy.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m not saying that dictatorship or theocracy is better. But frankly, those aren’t the only alternatives. In fact, one
of the greatest achievements of mankind is to declare that some decisions are too important to be decided by a vote.

Democracy may be better than dictatorship. But an even better form of government is a constitutionally-limited republic in which the
powers of the majority are carefully circumscribed.

I guess it is hard to fit that on a sign though.