Happy Democracy, America!

July 3, 2014

This time of year always reminds me of one of my favorite essays. The words were written by celebrated American author E.B. White. I first heard this piece in college many years ago as an example of how description is used to convey a concept or idea. I read this every year during Independence Day because the essay is called "The Meaning of Democracy." E.B. White's words were published in The New Yorker on July 3, 1943. Here is his response to a question:


We received a letter from the Writers’ War Board the other day asking for a statement on ‘The Meaning of Democracy.’ It is presumably our duty to comply with such a request, and it is certainly our pleasure. Surely the Board knows what democracy is. 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 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 the morning in the middle of a war, wanting to know what democracy is.


God bless the USA and E.B. White.