What Democracy Means

“Democracy after all is a high risk undertaking. It means trusting the people rather than the experts; but it also means educating the people, challenging the people, inspiring the people. It means stimulating the people to think, to criticize, to question. It means respecting process as well as results.”
Sargent Shriver| Washington, DC| March 22, 1967

Our Quote of the Week makes clear that democracy is a high-stakes, people-powered enterprise. This is an important reminder as Election Day draws to a close and we prepare to process the results of the midterms.

Sargent Shriver spoke these words on the day he ended his Presidential campaign in 1976. While he didn’t succeed in his Presidential bid, his words demonstrate his unwavering faith in democracy and in the ability of people to respect its processes and results. Shriver’s reference to democracy being a “high risk undertaking” is notable here, in that it emphasizes what we know all too well today: that democracy relies on the good faith and will of its participants and on the inclusion of all its citizens.

As we move through a period of uncertainty and mistrust in our democracy, let us remember that maintaining a democratic system is an ongoing process. In moments when people’s rights are at risk and trust is low, we must be resolved to participate as fully as we can with tenacity, good will, and with the well-being of all of our citizens in mind.

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Peace requires the simple but powerful recognition that what we have in common as human beings is more important and crucial than what divides us.
Sargent Shriver
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