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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Monday, January 25, 2010

Democracy is the Score at the Beginning of the Ninth

"We received a letter from the Writers’ War Board the other day asking for a statement on ‘The Meaning of Democracy.’ It is presumably our duty to comply with such a request, and it is certainly our pleasure. Surely the Board knows what democracy is. It is the line that forms on the right. It is the don’t in don’t shove. It is the hole in the stuffed shirt through which the sawdust slowly trickles, the dent in the high hat.

"Democracy is the recurrent suspicion that more than half of the people are right more than half the time. It is the feeling of privacy in the voting booths, the feeling of communion in the libraries, the feeling of vitality everywhere. Democracy is the letter to the editor. Democracy is the score at the beginning of the ninth. It is an idea which hasn’t been disproved yet, a song the words of which have not gone bad. It’s the mustard on the hot dog and the cream in the rationed coffee. Democracy is a request from a War Board, in the middle of the morning in the middle of a war, wanting to know what democracy is."

The above ditty, called The Meaning of Democracy, was read during Criag Dally's judicial induction ceremony on Friday. Bethlehem Attorney Tom Maloney told us that no less a personage than Winston Churchill, forwarded this little essay to FDR.

FDR's reply? "Them's my sentiments!"

Blogger's Note: This essay appeared in The New Yorker in 1943, and was written by E.B. White. He's known to most of us as the author of Charlotte's Web.

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