Democracy still best

Published 9:18 am Thursday, July 5, 2012

Sir Winston Churchill, over the course of his service to Great Britain, was nothing if not quotable.

Many of his sayings and quotations have quite literally shaped the course of human history. And on this day, when Americans take time out to celebrate the birth of our nation, we are reminded of a line from a speech he delivered to the British House of Commons in 1947, when he said, “No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. 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.”

Mr. Churchill, as he so often did, hit the proverbial nail right on the head.

Democracy is difficult at best. It requires that those who care about its preservation remain engaged in the process. It challenges us daily to make difficult decisions that we would rather not make, and forces us to compromise on issues and work with others with whom we have fundamental differences of opinion.

Democracy is messy and contentious but, to Sir Winston’s point, it is still the greatest form of government. And that is because democracy, even the representative form we practice in the United States, is a government of, by and for the people.

For all of its flaws, and Lord knows we as Americans have plenty, a democracy such as ours remains the envy of many around the world.

On July 4, 1776, the founders of this nation could hardly have conceived of the world in which we now live, for we face challenges and issues that simply did not exist in their time. But one thing remains true today that existed when the Declaration of Independence was signed 236 years ago; we, as Americans, are all created equal, and have been endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights, among them life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Independence Day is often marked with parades, backyard barbecues and fireworks, and to many that is what this day has come to mean. We encourage you to pause today to consider what this day is truly about, that while our democracy may indeed be imperfect, it is based on a set of ideals that have held fast for over two centuries and continue to make America the freest nation in the history of humankind.