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Friday, March 11, 2005

The Wondrous Spectacle of Debate

Something wonderful is happening right now in Britain. In fact, Great Britain, because what is happening is one of the many things that make this country ''Great".

As I write, there is a battle between the two houses of government about fundamental democratic issues. One house is of the elected, the other has traditionally become one that 'advises' that 'warns', but in the end 'defers' to the wishes of the 'democratically' chosen. It is ironic that it should be the 'Lords' so concerned and so protective of the country's democratic history, decomcratic well-being. It is ironic that our democratically elected house should demand passage of a bill that will set such a precedent for the denial of its citizens the ancient right to a trial -- ad infinitum.

Time and again since my arrival in the United Kingdom, I have been impressed by the unelected House of Lords. It seems to me that while there is often a great deal of 'huffery' and 'puffery'; while there is a smattering -- maybe more than a smattering -- of pomp and red capes with ermine trimming, and yes, there really is a Woolsack -- most of the Lords who attend day after day, really believe the government and its role are important and very often above politics. The truth is there is a place for 'wisdom', for these guardians of what a government has been and should be and what questions need to be pondered about long and hard. It is a peculiarity of the system that the Lords is less politically corrupt from not needing to be elected. And more democratic because the entire group is entitled to participate in the debate and to vote.

I have goosebumps watching the parade between the houses as one says aye and the other nay and back and forth down the ancient corridors they travel to-ing and fro-ing, debating the foundation of western culture, the rights of man. It's important. It's everything we are; everything we've become. It brings tears to my eyes.

Bravo! Well done! Thank you.


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