Saturday, May 20, 2006

Zooming by the news I see the headline, "New Orleans Election Too Close to Call."

Someday I've got to get it. I believe in democracy, meaning I believe in the wisdom of the people.

The people, world wide, are saying, "don't see the difference between these candidates, don't much like either one."

Close elections are a huge trend. There was the nasty but I have to admit close presidential election of 2000--I like to talk begatuvekt about how that election was resolved, but however it was resolved, it was close. Italy and Germany have lately in 2005 and 2006 had very close elections for national leader done in the parliamentary style that took a bunch of talking to resolve.

Politican reporters like to view elections in terms of the fierce believers at either end, but fierce believers like me are unrepresentitive of the times. These close elections are not generally caused by a dead heat between masses of passionate supporters but by a near-tie between masses of lukewarm voters who don't love any of the choices.

I'm hanging way out on the liberal edge of the liberal party in my country, and I can easily see almost any election I know anything about in terms of vast and important differences.

The people, who I work for, whether they know it or not, who I believe in, whether I agree with them or not, don't see big differences that they care about.

All the time I spend follwing the insider stuff of politics, especially of presidential politics, I've got to sit with that, learn from that.

One presidential election or another I was intensely consuming the newspaper on the bus and a man who was dressed to do hard physical work said, "You into to election stuff?" I said yes. He said, "You're real interested in rich people, huh?"

That's one clue. I'm sure there are many others. I gotta know more about from whence cometh the indifference and repulsion of the presented choices.

I tend to know a lot about what newsfolk say about the run up to the presidential primaries, much of which is revealed to have nothing to do with ongoing reality. Political reporters gotta write in that time period, but I don't have to read it.

I could spend more time noticing ongoing reality and how it might relate more to democracy, to the people, to giving the people power.

"Democracy in American" by de Tocqueville really is a terrific book, just like they say, and in modern translation it's easy to read.

When people talk about it now, they talk like the big word in the title is America--this French guy came over and toured America and wrote down his thoughts.

But the reason he toured America was democracy--the big word in the title for him. America was hugely bigger than anyplace else that had been a democracy and he wanted to see what was up.

He said in his book essentially--"I like democracy--I hope it's going well in the USA. But whether you like democracy or not, it is what is coming, so pay attention."

He wrote about no individual elections. He wrote about things that looked different to him that to him looked like a result of the country being a democracy. Like the people had a tendency to form lots of organizations and clubs; he hardily approved. Like the people paid a lot of attention to what was happening in courts and sued each other a lot; he almost disapproved.

But he grokked democracy by paying attention to ongoing social processes. If I spent the time I usually, in a presidential election year, spend reading speculation far in advance of anyone whosoever voting paying some new kind of attention to ongoing social processes, I'd be way ahead.

And, yes, many books that are supposed to be great are very trying to read but Democracy in America, in a recent translation, almost rocks. It's amazingly good, amazingly easy to read and amazingly current.