Town meeting by Norman Rockwell – flickr creative commons

Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time. – Winston Churchill

Democracy is a form of government in which all eligible citizens participate equally—either directly or through elected representatives—in the proposal, development, and creation of laws. It encompasses social, economic and cultural conditions that enable the free and equal practice of political self-determination. – Wikipedia

Churchill is only partially correct since we have not tried very many other forms of government.  Feudalism,  theocracy, various dictatorships – those are the biggies. Even a democracy appears oppressive and despotic if one is a member of a minority group whose voice is not heard and whose needs are not met. Indeed even a dictatorship can work just fine for those who support it and benefit from it. I am sure that there were a large number of Germans who did very well under Hitler as there were a large number of Spaniards who did well under Franco.

Query – can there still be a democracy where everybody is represented equally and still be repressive? Yes – absolutely. If one is a member of a minority group, even if represented in the governing body, that governing body can rule against you. Just because one has a say does not mean one will not be overruled consistently.

Then can you truly have a democracy? Yes..OWS proved that you can indeed. However OWS did not have leaders as such. There were facilitators but they had no real power and decisions were made by consensus which required the participation of the entire group.

How well would this work with something the size of a state or country? Or would it? We have seen the town meetings they have in the New England area. This works well for those involved. Should a country’s central government be involved with or make laws and legislation that only concerns one particular area and/or group, or should that be left to those involved. And conversely, should the problems and concerns of a particular group or area be visited upon the rest of the country?

Even if everyone in a group or area did participate locally and sent representatives to meet with other representatives, would their concerns be considered? These are questions this country has been trying to deal with since the beginning.  Even with the original 13 very sparsely populated states, consensus was oft times hard to establish.

Ideally everyone’s concern would be considered when governing. This becomes increasingly difficult and problematic when you add personalities, idealism and beliefs into the mix. When you add extremism to it and small participation, you get a very dysfunctional arrangement indeed.

We have a lot more to overcome here then than just political stubbornness and corruption.