Thursday, October 1, 2020

Quote of the Day (E.B. White, on Democracy, ‘An Idea Which Hasn't Been Disproved Yet’)

“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 the 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.”—American essayist and children’s book author E.B. White (1899-1985), On Democracy (2019)

Thirty-five years ago today, E.B. White, a writer and editor who heavily influenced the early New Yorker Magazine, passed away. You can sense his civilized, urbane voice from the quote above. That same tone was sadly missing at Tuesday night’s Presidential debate.

In another month, we are going to see whether America’s progress towards democracy will be disrupted, or even destroyed. The warning of Benjamin Franklin as he left the Constitutional Convention is as prophetic as White’s is hopeful. Asked about the form of the new government by a group of citizens, he supposedly replied, “a republic—if you can keep it.”

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