As the dust settles on yet another electoral season, I am reminded again of the similarities between politics and the law.
We take sides against our opponents. We stake out positions and argue issues. We debate. We try to persuade others that we are right. We plead our cases to electorates and juries, who cast their votes in secret.
We hope in the end we will win.
No wonder so many lawyers find it easy to cross over into politics.
And yet when the election – or the law case – is over, we find ourselves once again on the same side. We are all players on a larger team, one that depends on all of our unique and diverse talents to thrive.
One of my favorite quotes along these lines comes from Charlotte’s Web and The New Yorker writer E.B. White, who during World War II when asked by the national War Board to pen a few inspirational words on our democratic process, replied as follows:
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, the dent in the high hat. Democracy is the recurrent suspicion that more than half of the people are right more than half of 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 the 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.
Jay Reeves is an attorney licensed in North Carolina and South Carolina. Once upon a time he was Legal Editor at Lawyers Weekly and Risk Manager at Lawyers Mutual. He once hung out with Wolfman Jack. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org, phone 919-619-2441.