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Democracy: Have we forgotten what it means?

I have never used the democratic form of government in my shop. My working environment has always more resembled a dictatorship. You might get away with calling it a benevolent dictatorship but it's still a dictatorship.

I am always open to ideas and suggestions and actually seriously consider them from time to time. But I always made it clear that it was my shop and things needed to be done the way I wanted them done.

The other day, while reading A.J.'s post about the table saw safety issue, I got to thinking about what it really means to live in a democracy. And I decided that we have totally lost touch with the true essence of democracy.

Democracy, in its most basic form, is simply government by the will of the majority. However that will is represented, it should always be the deciding factor. But these days, it seems like the will of the majority is lost. There are so many issues in which the will of the majority is clear and yet the actuality is far from representing that will. And there are so many issues over which we spend vast amounts of time arguing that could easily be put to rest by a simple vote at the state level.

At one point it occurred to me that democracy does not mean that everyone gets what they want. It is quite possible to live one's entire life in a democratic environment without once getting things their way. But I always understood that that was what was necessary for a true democracy to work. These days things look more like the way I run my shop.


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