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November 5th, 2011
03:48 PM ET

Letters to the President #1020: 'The democratic puzzle'

Reporter's Note: I write to the president every day. Sometimes I don't want to, but like the sun, I rise to my work without fail. At least so far.

Dear Mr. President,

So in the end, Democracy did not win out in Greece.

I've been thinking about that ever since it was decided that voters there would not be allowed to vote on the latest big financial plan for fear that they would say no and somehow destroy the value of the euro for the rest of the continent.

It's more complex than that (kind of like the relationship with my college girlfriend) but my point is this: The whole kerfuffle underscores something that we rarely acknowledge about democracy. Sometimes we don't want it.

Seriously. I realize this sounds like heresy, but it is true.

While I fully accept that competition is a natural part of humanity, and it produces winners and losers, I am also one of the greatest believers you'll ever find in the idea that we, the people, should have primary say over our nation no matter who has most recently won power. I deplore elitism, whether social, political, or economic.

At the same time, I recognize that what we all want, and what the world needs can be very different matters. Sometimes true leaders must stand up, risk their reputations, careers, even their lives to tell the people "This issue is too complex, too dangerous, and with too many long-lasting consequences for it to be decided by a tide of public fear or fury. I will decide. You can vote me out later if you wish. But for today, I will decide."

I think that is what is happening, in a broad sense, in Europe. And I suspect if our economy continues to founder here (and yes, I meant founder not flounder) we may see a little more of our Democracy on hold too. But here is a caution: Be careful to give Democracy as much running room as you dare before stepping in. After all, while elected leaders must sometimes excercise judgments contrary to public opinion, you still work for us.

Hope your Saturday is going well. Hey, are you going to watch the big ALA-LSU game? Should be fantastic! Call if you can.

Regards,
Tom

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Filed under: Letters to the President • Opinion • President Barack Obama • T1 • Tom Foreman
soundoff (One Response)
  1. Mary Sixwomen Blount

    If Popandreu wants to run in Texas he has my vote and oanyone I can muster up. Imagine the nerve of this man to dare and ask his constituents to cast a deciding vote. May the Creator make more men like this and maybe the world will last a while longer.

    November 6, 2011 at 8:16 pm |