Democracy is Annoying, Now Suck It Up and Vote
The election process is almost over. You’ve seen the attack ads (probably), you’ve watched the debates (probably not), you’ve smacked a cocky, 20-year-old hack canvasser in the face (I certainly hope so) and today is the day all that bullshit is going to pay off. Today, you get to take a short to medium walk, stand in line, flash some i.d to a half-blind, elderly volunteer, put an x on a sheet of paper and then smoosh it into a cardboard box. Boom. Democracy. But some people don’t take part in this magical process. This is either because they are too busy eating cheetos or because they think that democracy has been twisted into a slobbering, ugly, self-aggrandizing, underachieving version of its former self. But these people are wrong, and this is how I know.
In mankind’s golden age, Athens, 483, when democracy was in its purest form, there was a man called Aristeides. Aristeides was a kind, principled man, and a devoted public servant. He would defend even the most repugnant thieves, to give them a fair trial, he rescued kittens from chariot wheels, he covered naughty statue with leaves, and if in the gymnasium, a man needed greasing, Aristeides would grease him. He would grease him until there was no orifice left to grease. And for this, they called him “Aristeides the Just”, and no man was more worthy of the title. In 483, the citizens of Athens had voted to hold an ostracism. Ostracism may sound rough, but it was actually a very humane way of getting rid of people who were either tyrannical or obnoxious for ten years. If you do vote to hold an ostracism, everyone gets a broken piece of pot to nominate a deserving citizen; the fellow with the most tablets gets a very long vacation. Ten years actually, but while you’re gone, the city of Athens will take care of your house, feed your goat, etc. Thucydides used his exile to finally write that book he had kickin’ around in his head; Alcibiades used his to start an illicit political relationship with Athens’ enemies. It’s a time of discovery, really. So Aristeides the Just is in the Agora, taking part in the democratic process, when a gnarled, illiterate old man asks him for help writing his vote.
“Of course!” Aristeides says, smiling at the prospect of being a good citizen. “Which citizen is it that you wish to ostracize?”
“Aristeides the Just,” says the toothless, uneducated man.
“Alright,” Aristeides says, and because he is so Just, he faithfully writes his own name and returns the voting tablet to the rotting old coot. “But may I ask, good citizen, why you wish to ostracise this man?”
“You can,” says the twisted, inbred relic. “I’m sick of people always calling him “the Just”.”
I like this story, because it reminds me that democracy is supposed to be a tacky, ill-informed, sad process, where they open the mad houses to come out and condemn people for stupid reasons. It has always been a slobbering, ugly, self-aggrandizing, underachieving form of governemnt, but this is just the nature of the only political system that anyone has ever pretended to care about. We’re lucky to have it. So everyone should just get over themselves, and vote.