What is Democracy and Why Does it Matter?

When asked by the War Board to respond to “What is Democracy,” E.B. White wrote in 1943: 

“It is the line that forms on the right. It is the don’t in don’t shove. It is the hole in the stuffed shirt through which the sawdust slowly trickles; it is the dent in the high hat. Democracy is the recurrent suspicion that more than half of the people are right more than half of the time. It is the feeling of privacy in the voting booths, the feeling of communion in the libraries, the feeling of vitality everywhere. Democracy is a letter to the editor. Democracy is the score at the beginning of the ninth. It is an idea which hasn’t been disproved yet, a song the words of which have not gone bad. “

Democracy is messy, boisterous, opinionated, capable of greatness and equally capable of great folly. Like we humans, democracy is not perfect, and can be deeply flawed. But it has the capacity to be vibrant and life affirming. It holds the promise that “we, the people,” can band together to make change. Sometimes that change lasts, other times it doesn’t. There is always the push and pull of strong beliefs and special interests.

In the end though, I firmly believe that Democracy is worth it. It is worth our time and attention to band together to form a “more perfect union.” It is worth it to take a stand, to be able to say what we want to say. It is worth it even when we don’t like what our political leaders are doing. It is worth it, because ultimately it is founded on us.

We cannot just rely on our Democracy to take care of itself. As citizens, we are responsible for educating ourselves about issues and candidates, for taking a stand on issues that are important to us, for advocating for public policy issues or supporting others who are doing so for us. And most important of all, we are responsible for exercising our right to vote.

We invite you to join us in the nonpartisan League of Women Voters of Johnston County to help educate voters about issues and candidates, increase voter registration and participation in elections, and advocate for major public policy issues.

A Democracy is only as strong as the people who are actively engaged in supporting it, challenging it and advocating for it. Join us and help “shine a light on Democracy.”