Monday, June 27, 2011

Democracy Means You Can't Always Win

There's this fantasy thinking that says that life is black & white with easy answers and if people just did the right thing, they'd do the right thing and the world would be a better place.  And so you have people who believe that Obama can force Congress into rubber-stamping anything he wants, if only he told people what he wanted and went on the offensive against anyone who got in his way.  As if that's ever worked for any president in the history of our country.

And then you have people who demand vigilante justice and insist that bad guys don't deserve a trial; like many of the commenters at this news story about a serial killer in Cleveland.  And yeah, sure, in this case I'm sure the guy did it and vigilante justice would be swifter and perhaps more accurate than what he's going to get.  And just as the liberals criticizing Obama "know" the right answer and are frustrated by this whole democracy "balance of power" system, these commenters "know" the right answer and are frustrated by the whole Due Process system.

But the reason we have these rules is because there AREN'T always easy answers, and we CAN'T always know if the guy is guilty; and the best way to sort this out is to have laws, elections, and trials.  And yeah, this can be frustrating and you will often get bad results.  We can't always get the laws we need and bad guys will get treated better than they deserve and might even be set free.

But that's simply the price we have to pay for having our form of government.  If we want people to be willing to cooperate and obey laws they don't like, then we have to cooperate and obey laws WE don't like.  And if we want to make sure mobs don't kill innocent people, we have to have a fair justice system that also applies to guilty people.  Like it or not, this is the best option.

As I keep saying, our system of government isn't designed to find the "right" answer.  It's about having a process that we can all agree to, even if we don't agree with the results.  And this benefits us in the long term.  Sure, it'd be nice if Obama could unilaterally give us free universal healthcare and if serial killers could be made to suffer the way they made others suffer; but that also means we could have rotten laws forced on us and endless warfare as vigilante groups waged vengeance upon one another.

As messy as democracy can be, it's still far better than the alternative.  After all, dictatorships rarely get the right answers either.

1 comment:

Betsy said...

Just got back from visiting my grandkids (In Tennessee--eeek) and not seeing a computer for a week. So good to see so many posts from you. Thanks!