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How democracy works

The New York Times editorializes about "how democracy is supposed to work":

In an interview with ABC’s “Good Morning America,” on Monday, Mr. Obama’s wife, Michelle, was asked if she would work to support Mrs. Clinton if she won. “I’d have to think about that,” she replied.

Mrs. Obama quickly got back on her talking points, stressing party unity. But her unguarded answer was similar to what we heard from Obama supporters in e-mail messages that we received after endorsing Mrs. Clinton. Many of those readers said they would not bother to vote if Mr. Obama lost the nomination. That is not the way democracy is supposed to work.

I agree with the Times that Obama supporters ought to support Clinton if (and it's a big, big if) she wins the nomination.

But the Times is wrong about democracy. This is exactly how democracy is "supposed to work." Voters can vote for whomever they want, for whatever reasons they want. They can choose not to vote at all. They can do whatever they want for reasons that don't make any sense at all.

In fact, this freedom of voters to behave irrationally is the strongest argument that's been made against democracy as a form of government. It's been the strongest argument against democracy for thousands of years.

The problem has always been that in a democracy, we defer to the will of the people. And the people, unlike philosopher-kings, can and often do act irrationally (insert snarky comment about the re-election of George W. Bush here).

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