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Democracy: Is There a Better Alternative?

by Rabbi Naftali Silberberg

  

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In a little over a month, the American People will re-innaugerate a president, following a democratic process founded more than two centuries ago. Democracy works. Never since Biblical times has there been a government so powerful, yet so fair to its citizens and committed to the ideals of prosperity, freedom, and liberty for all mankind. For the most part, politicians do not overly abuse their position, for they are fully aware that every few years they can be fired if their constituents are not satisfied with the job they are doing. While our country’s history is hardly error free, the mistakes pale in comparison to the wars and atrocities committed by so many governments which preceded us, and our blunders are usually well-intentioned. While constantly striving to improve the quality of life for all our citizens, and especially the underprivileged, we have created the most affluent society to ever inhabit this Earth.

The United States is resented in many parts of the world, mostly by people who are subconsciously jealous of our unparalleled achievements. At the same time, we have been the role model for countless other nations who have adopted the principles of our constitution. We must never take our lot for granted, and we must always thank G-d for allowing us to live in a country which offers so much, not least of all the freedom to serve Him undisturbed by persecution or government sanctioned discrimination.

Wouldn’t it be idyllic to have a real leader, a G-dly person whom we can trust to faithfully serve the people, a leader who actually leads?
It is therefore with good reason that the vast majority of Americans believe that democracy is the absolute best form of government. True monarchy – unlike the British monarchy, for example, which is an honorary title, not a form of government – is considered outdated and a jeopardy to individual rights. Yet three times a day we beseech G-d to restore the Davidic dynasty, effectively requesting a regime which will be administrated by the Messianic King. No senate or parliament, no more elections or campaigning (although everyone will agree that’s a plus...); seemingly a return to medieval times! Why can’t the Messiah be democratically elected?

Recently I saw a bumper sticker which said, “If the people will lead, the leaders will follow.” That decal expresses the inherent flaw of democracy. It is impossible for a leader to truly lead when he or she must always keep an ear to the ground, fearful of making an unpopular decision which will lead to a defeat in the next elections. A true leader is someone who has vision, who sees things which the average citizen cannot, and is willing to make the necessary decisions which may be painful in the short-range, but are beneficial in the long-run. A genuine leader leads, while the majority of today’s politicians base their policies on focus groups and the latest Gallup Poll. Truly we have leaders who are actually followers.

Yet Democracy remains the most viable form of government because we are – rightfully – unwilling to entrust our lives to the hands of a dictator or Politburo. We trust ourselves more than we trust a select group of politicians who are all too susceptible to bribes, corruption, etc. But wouldn’t it be idyllic to have a real leader, a G-dly person whom we can trust to faithfully serve the people, a leader who actually leads?

Welcome to the Messianic Era.


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COMMENTS

Americas Democracy?

Posted by: INRI, Stockton, CA on Jul 07, 2005

I thought America was a Republic, not a democracy?

The USA is...

Posted by: Tyler Berenson, CT on Dec 11, 2005

It's a democratic republic...

there was True Democracy in Greece... when all the people of Athens would vote on everything. It took a long time for anything to happen...

a republic is when a few make decisions for everybody...

the USA is a democracy in the sense that everybody has a chance to vote for his/her representatives.

Democracy vs. Republic

Posted by: Michael Makovi on Jan 01, 2006

Regarding whether America is a democracy or a republic, it is technically a democratic republic, which means it is rule by people (democracy), except that its actual implementation is rule by elected officials representing the people (republic). Thus, it is a democratic republic. I believe the only true democratically run country in the world (i.e. rule directly by people) was Athens, in which every citizen directly helped run the government. However, since only 10% (the free males, but not women or slaves) of Athenians were citizens, this is a very questionable achievement.

David monarchy

Posted by: Michael Makovi on Jan 01, 2006

As for whether the Messianic government will be a monarchy, I've wondered how technically true this is. Yes, the prophesies and such tell us that in the Messianic age, the king will be a descendent of David, but back then, the only kind of government was a monarchy. Perhaps "king" was the only way to say "government leader" in those times. Perhaps today, a modern prophet would say "In Messianic times, the government leader will be a descendent of David". If so, "government leader" can mean King, President, Prime Minister, etc. Of course we can't know for sure, but I'm not convinced that the descendent of David who will reign will have to be a technical king heading a monarchy. Of course, we can be sure he will head the government, whatever kind it is, and that's enough for me. We just ought to do everything we can to bring the Redemption closer and make the world better however we can, and if G-d wants a monarchy, He can make sure we get one.

Editor's Comment

Appointing a king is actually a biblically mandated command -- which will surely be observed in the Messianic Era!

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