Real power rests not with the mob, but the ballot box

Friday, October 21, 2011

If the grainy cell-phone video of a dazed, bleeding Muammar Gaddafi being manhandled by mob just before his death doesn't cause one to feel pity for even a brutal despot, we've lost too much of our humanity somewhere along the line.

Compare Gaddafi's end to the relatively dignified dispatch of Osama bin Laden, and it's tempting to make comparisons of those involved in both incidents.

The "Arab Spring" is stretching toward winter, with the Libyan dictator only the latest of several thrown out by their own people this year.

And, yes, it seems the mood has spread across the Atlantic, resulting in the "Occupy Wall Street" mob expressing general discontent with the financial and governmental system in America.

No one has a corner on street demonstrations, nor can anyone predict their success -- consider how they turned out in Tieneman Square. Or, compare the "Occupy" events to Tea Party rallies conducted around the country -- even in Southwest Nebraska -- in the past couple of years.

McCook even had the dubious honor of hosting the Westboro Baptist folks from Topeka, who can somehow trace all of society's ills, including war casualties, to tolerance of homosexuality.

One glaring difference between dictatorships in the Middle East and America is that such protests are constitutionally protected -- a three-judge panel of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals just overturned a Nebraska law that would keep the Westboro demonstrators several hundred feet away from funerals.

The same Constitution, however, guarantees folks like the Patriot Guards motorcycle groups to turn out in force at those same funerals.

Public demonstrations may draw attention to specific causes, but in a Democracy, while the rule of law still reigns, the real power lies in the ballot box.

"Many forms of Government have been tried and will be tried in this world of sin and woe," Sir Winston Churchill said in a speech in the House of Commons on Nov. 11, 1947. "No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time."

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: