Does Democracy require elections?

Are Politics today not only more polarized and strident than I ever can recall, but weirder in the bargain?  Can things get weirder than Sharron Angle, Sar(Evita) Palin, Michael Steele, Senators Vitter and (wide stance) Craig, and that romance-starved guy who is (still) Governor of South Carolina?

Now, I did witness the crass episode that was Rep. Wilbur Mills and Fanne Fox (aka the Tidal Basin Bombshell), and other long-gone political scandals.   Hell, I was living in Washington as our Civics class followed Watergate. But people used to have to resign.

And change happened. Watergate brought a new class of persons to Congress for decades.

But today? With 24 News, scandals are a dime a dozen. I was actually caught off guard hearing that President Obama had sacked Gen. McChrystal. Too often, scandals that really do matter, have no consequences.

The bigger issue may be that we have a system that makes it not only challenging but perhaps impossible for qualified, well-balanced people to run for high office. Our system expects candidates (and, subsequently office-holders) to be “always on” and “always right.”  That’s not human – not in the best sense.

Who today wants the huge headache of running for office?  With what it takes to be a successful politician now, one almost has to be off-kilter to want it.  Self-confidence is not enough.  You must have such a supreme and impervious self-image that nothing – not facts, not anything – can convince you of a mistake.

So nothing can get corrected because those in power can’t admit to being wrong.  Not because they’re afraid to acknowledge it to us – they can’t believe it themselves.

With our electoral system, this is unlikely to change. But to preserve Democracy – and it is failing us as a governing system now – we have to think outside the box.

Does Democracy – government by the People – require elections?  Our can we devise a Democracy that avoids the incipient problem that only the weird can run?


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