What Democracy Looks Like

I have had a chant stuck in my head for days, maybe even weeks:

Tell me what democracy looks like.

This is what democracy looks like.

It is one I have heard at protests, on videos, and in news broadcasts. It is not a new chant. I could imagine coming up back in 1773 when a group snuck onto British ships in Boston Harbor and turned a shipment of tea into salty fish food.

The chant is technically a back and forth conversation between the leader and the crowd, but really it is between the crowd and the audience. Those individuals marching down the street have already made a choice about what they believe democracy is. It is those watching from behind windows who may have made a choice, or may still be figuring things out.

You do not have to be part of a protest to be part of democracy. There might not be a protest that you agree with, or one that you support enough to be physically part of during this pandemic. And that is okay. Democracy looks like the people walking down the street, and it looks like other things too.

Democracy is registering to vote and voting.

Democracy looks like being informed. I recommend podcasts from NPR: Up First for an early morning recap, Code Switch for conversations on race and everything else, and Throughline for a historical perspective on what is happening today.

Democracy looks like learning history. Focus on the parts missed in your high school history class. I just finished Invisible Women and next up is Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents.

Democracy looks like asking questions. Especially the ones that feel stupid or hard or uncomfortable.

And democracy looks like trying, falling down, getting up, and trying again. Failure is a fundamental characteristic of the American Experiment. Even Hamilton messed up in a magnificent way.

Go look like democracy.

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