Tuesday, April 10, 2018

A Letter on Democracy by Chard DeNiord

“…The first thing that democracy requires is imagination; without it, it's impossible to envision a state in which the genius of its people thrive in both their personal and political freedom to think and create as they wish within the bounds of practicable laws that ensure their safety, their health, and their ‘inalienable rights.’

“Greatness in a country lies in its government's belief in its people's genius as a whole, in the body politic as an organic system in which enough of its moving parts function under an elected leadership that ensures its efficacy to advance its literature, its sciences, its civics, its art, and its ongoing political experiment to previously unimagined feats and works.

“Implicit in the fragile structure of an enlightened democracy is the ungovernable practice of electing accomplished candidates who agree selflessly to postpone their primary careers in order to serve the state selflessly, if reluctantly, as Plato abjured in The Republic.

“When a democracy falls into the hands of professional politicians or mere businessmen who don't also have another subject, its ‘center cannot hold’ and ‘things fall apart.’ Without imagination and some concomitant praxis in its serendipitous fields, no politician can hope to fulfill the first call of any enlightened democracy, which is to improve it further by fortifying its foundations while at the same time building higher upon it. The best of human legacy testifies to it.

“This formidable task of course requires a talent for comity, as well as a charisma for appealing to the genius within its people which goes by the double name of common and great.”

Chard DeNiord is an American author, Poet Laureate of Vermont (2015-2019), poet, and teacher.

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