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C.S. Lewis on the Ground of Democracy

According to Lewis, there are two possible reasons for believing in democracy:

“You may think all men so good that they deserve a share in the government of the commonwealth, and so wise that the commonwealth needs their advice. That is, in my opinion, the false, romantic doctrine of democracy. On the other hand, you may believe fallen men to be so wicked that not one of them can be trusted with any irresponsible power of his fellows.”* 

I wonder whether our democracy has not, by and large, fallen prey to the first and false of these options. We take it as a supreme value that everyone should get their say. Your vote is your voice, your power. What we need instead is a good dose of humility. We need to acknowledge that, as fallen and sinful people, none of us can handle unchecked power, and the vote of all the others is accountability for the one. I suppose that the making of such a confession would, however, run contrary to nature for such fallen ones


* “Membership” in The Weight of Glory (HarperCollins, 2001), 168.

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