Roger Cohen, writing in the New York Times:
ATHENS — Gazing at the Acropolis the other day from an Athens rooftop, I was reminded of Samuel Beckett’s words: “Ever tried. Ever failed. No Matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”
Athenian democracy, a male preserve, far from universal, failed in due course. Still, to see that white citadel in the Athenian dawn is to be reminded of the millenniums of human striving for a political system permitting citizens to exercise power through the ballot box: government of the people, by the people, for the people, as Lincoln put it.
Try again. Fail again. Fail better.
It’s important to put our current democratic travails in perspective. At its best, democracy is a culture that empowers free citizens to participate in shaping their fates. At its worst, it is a charade in which civic bonds erode, power accrues to the few, self-aggrandizement becomes the norm, and tolerance and restraint are consumed by the howling mob. Then the very word becomes a sham, a disguise deployed by autocrats like Vladimir Putin.