'Matter of Laugh or Death,' a humor column
By Bill Dunn
Interesting observations on this thing we call life
(appearing each week in the Republican-American newspaper, Waterbury, CT)
PURE DEMOCRACY IS A HIT IN TORRINGTON
Democracy. What a beautiful word. Americans cherish democracy. Millions of people in oppressed foreign lands can only dream about it.
But what exactly is democracy? In it’s purest form, democracy means majority rule. Whichever course of action is favored by the most people, then that is what occurs.
There are actually very few examples of democracy in action. Did you know the United States of America is not a real democracy? The Founding Fathers were terrified of democracy, convinced it would be way too messy. They thought majority rule was too close to “mob rule,” and so they set up this nation as a representative republic. Citizens vote for their political representatives, and then the representatives make the final decisions.
Democracy does not exist in most families, as any kid will attest. If three children vote “aye” for a Disneyworld family vacation, while two parents vote “nay,” the majority definitely does not rule and that family will not be booking flights to Florida anytime soon.
However, there is one example of pure democracy in action. Right here in Torrington the new collegiate summer league baseball team has 450 separate owners, each with an equal say on all team matters. It is truly a “community owned” enterprise.
For a low $100 membership fee, each team owner gets a season ticket, good for entrance to every home game, and an opportunity to participate in pure democracy. So far, the team owners have voted for the team name (Titans), team manager (Gregg Hunt), team colors (white, trimmed with blue and gold), team uniform style (um, I dunno, it’s a baseball uniform), team victory song (“Glory Days,” by Bruce Springsteen), and the seating policy at Fuessenich Park in downtown Torrington.
As a voting member, every single vote I have cast so far has lost, except for the manager vote, when I cast my ballot for Mr. Hunt, purely because of name recognition—the exact thing I often criticize voters for doing every November in federal, state, and local elections. Regarding the seating policy, I voted for open seating: if you’re in the park, you can sit in any open seat you find.
So far, this experiment in pure democracy has not been “mob rule,” but it has not been without it’s messy moments either. For example, at the team’s opening game this year, I convinced my wife to join me, although she is not a member and without a season ticket had to pay $5 at the gate. Then an usher informed us that as an owner I could sit in the comfortable box seats behind home plate, but my wife, not an owner, had to sit on the wooden bench bleachers down the first base line. “That’s what the membership voted for,” the usher explained. I must have missed the email announcing the results of that vote.
I paused thoughtfully, then said, “See you later, Hon,” and went and found a comfortable box seat. No, I’m kidding! I sat with my wife on a wooden bench bleacher with the rest of the unwashed masses (or as the Chairman of BP would say, the “small people”). Word is, the membership is going to revisit the seating policy and maybe vote next year to allow non-members to use the good seats.
Overall, this experiment in pure democracy has been fascinating. It’s a good civics lesson. It’s good baseball, too. There’s a bunch of games still left on the schedule for this season, so it’s not too late to join and become a voting member. I vote that you should join. And I vote for more home runs.
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