Letters — 12 June 2019
Response to Dr. Young’s “Governance in our Democracy”

Dear Editor,

Dr. Young writes, “We need to stop the self-defeating handwringing and work on building public and private institutional strengths. That, in turn, can improve governance …”. (The self-defeating handwringing being purportedly caused by “the shrill voices of those who attack and undermine institutions”.)

What is so self-defeating about handwringing? Letting decision-makers know our concern or distress regarding some matter or other is an important part of democracy, and this is exactly why we wring our hands. Sure, we could wring more effectively, or, with some effort, take steps to address the matters that distress us.

This first option is a valid point. The second one is just your familiar stop-whining-and-start-acting call. Handwringing is valuable to democracy. Everyone should hand-wring when concerned about something.

And how is it that shrill voices undermine our institutions? Not by dissenting or criticizing; surely, since these are as vital to democracy as public debate is. Maybe by eroding their reputation? It should be eroded if the institution is, so that we might repair them. No institution is beyond the reach of a shrill voice.

Maybe Dr. Young means to say that ill-founded or false criticisms do the undermining? Whether they’re ill-founded is up to us to decide, though I agree that false accusations shouldn’t be flung about. In any case, truthful shrill voices should always sound, and be heard.

Angel Navidad

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Deshawn Swasey

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