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founding

Democracy is (at best) beautiful kind of in the way that evolution by natural selection is beautiful. Up close it is messy, selfish, violent, etc. But from a distance we see it’s tremendous generative power and beauty. I am also taking “democracy” in a very broad sense here.

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Shadi, wonderful piece. I think much of this depends on how we define "democracy." I think the idea that democracy allows people of diverse backgrounds to share their limited and imperfect information with the world, and that the system aggregates the signal from the noise, is beautiful.

But the gulf between democratic systems as they are, and how they should be, is large.

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It's odd because I've often been attracted to democracy's simplicity despite my own love of the chaotic and sprawling. I primarily live in my attic at home which is full of books lying on top of one another, rammed into over crowded bookcases. I have pictures from both well known and unknown artists from a variety of places and my spotify playlist is 600 songs of music from classical to punk rock.

On this basis, it may be said that my aesthetic is closer to the decrepit and complex bureaucracy of the Soviet Union than anything democratic! That said, there is still something beautiful in marking your ballot, putting it in the box and that having some effect on the regime of the day. Ditto with the lines that you see when everything is getting ready to vote. To a degree I would imagine that feeling has lessened over time as numerically states have become much bigger but you still get an initial 'buzz'.

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founding

Democracy is often ugly, but the alternatives are even uglier, once you look beneath the clean, orderly surfaces and see what they reduce people to. And even particularly ugly democracies can always make themselves less ugly, if enough people care enough.

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The definition of democracy is beautiful. The majority of Americans aren’t represented well. We have so much wealth, but in the hands of the few. Have you visited poor and middle class people? Not a beautiful picture.

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Why do we need it to be beautiful? I think it’s ugly because it’s messy, it generates conflict and hardship which become the ease. I think maybe democracy is like Buckley’s Mixture-tastes awful and it works.

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