Reflecting on the meaning of democracy

To the editor,

E.B. White, Maine’s adopted son, in reply to a request from the Writers’ War Board during World War II asking for a statement on “The Meaning of Democracy” wrote:

“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; it is the dent in the high hat. Democracy is the recurrent suspicion that more than half of the people are right more than half of 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 a 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 a morning in the middle of a war, wanting to know what democracy is.”

The New Yorker, July 3, 1943

E.B. White wrote this reflection after the United States had joined Britain “to wage war against a monstrous tyranny, never surpassed in the dark lamentable catalogue of human crime.” (Winston Churchill, House of Commons, May 13, 1940).

Franklin Delano Roosevelt thought it brilliant and said: “I love it!”

The meaning of democracy is not found in the sick torrent of lies and incitement by the U.S. chief executive, concluding when a mob smeared blood, excrement, hate and death all over the U.S. capitol on Jan. 6.

Robert Lyons

Kennebunk

What is a patriot?

To the editor,

A patriot of the United States is a citizen who votes, honors the U.S. Constitution, and follows the laws of our country. They may oppose what they do not approve of by protesting, speaking out, and the most powerful tool, voting.

A member of the press is a person who follows current events, verifies what they see and hear, investigates issues, informs the people. When mistakes are made, corrections and sometimes firings are in order. Stories must be based on facts. Opinions should be clearly marked as such. Without the legitimate press, we would have no way of knowing what is going on in our government.

A person who publishes lies is not a member of the legitimate press.

A person who breaks the law and blindly follows a man is not a patriot.

Vicki Adams
Kennebunk