It is often said — going back to Churchill, right? — that democracy is the worst form of government in the world . . . except for all the others. This comment generally occurs in discussions where somebody is being critical of this or that aspect of democracy or democratic practice. Inevitably some genius whips out this aphorism as a way to somehow validate the person’s point while simultaneously making sure that it has no potential impact on anything. “Yes, your point is clearly valid, but any alternative to the problem you point out is infinitely worse, so how about you shut the hell up now?”
Could we please have people who say this sort of thing just drop this disingenuous trope altogether? The thin rhetorical shroud around this all too common quip is nothing other than false humility. What’s really being said is that democracy is the best system of government the world has ever produced — I mean if “all the others” are worse, where do you think that leaves us?
After all, if democracy really is the best form of government ever, why tip-toe around it with false humility and patronization?