A few weeks ago, I wrote an article in which I used the term “kakistocracy.” Many readers e-mailed and said they couldn’t find the definition. I replied to each one and explained that I was surfing the channels one night and landed on the National Spelling Championship. During breaks in the contest, viewers were shown brief interviews with the competitors-tidbits of their personalities. One contestant said that she loves words and a favorite is kakistocracy which she defined as government by the worst. I picked up a pen from my bedside table and wrote it down. The next morning, I accessed dictionary.com as well as my very heavy New Oxford American Dictionary. When I couldn’t find the word, I went to “the Google” which corrected my spelling and sent me to Wikipedia. Government by the worst, kakistocracy, is that wrong track this country is on, the path so many Americans are complaining about as lawmakers game, blame, and pass the buck.

It is not surprising that even less popular in the poll of public opinion than George Bush and Dick Cheney is our Democratic-controlled Congress, those men and women who were elected to usher in competent government and get us out of Iraq. Instead, they’ve proven themselves to be an inadequate and morally-challenged gaggle of fumblers and blunderers. They have done nothing but fail us as they continue the Washington-as-usual practice, characterized by road rage and wreckage, representing only large corporations without regard for the will of the people.

This week, I received in the mail a bumper sticker from one of the readers who wrote and inquired about my use of the word I learned from a teenager. This sticker, now displayed on my car, says: “Kakistocracy IN WASHINGTON DCLOOK IT UP.” There’s a 2005 copyright and the name and phone number of the printer. I called the number and learned that a gentleman ordered 250 of these. I hope he orders millions. The person who sent the sticker to me said he wants to see them “coast to coast, Canada to Mexico.” I’d like them to ride on every automobile whose owner believes that our country is broken. In fact, I’d like to see them on the foreheads of everyone who thinks the United States needs repair.

Coincidentally and from out of the blue, a friend from years ago e-mailed while I was writing this article and told me his favorite bumper sticker says: “01.21.09.”

We just have to be certain that those making decisions in our names during tenures that begin in 2009 attempt to fix this kakistocracy, although it may be too late. Can our government be transformed to work for solutions to our many problems? If the answer is yes, the overhaul probably will require a third-party victory.

Missy Beattie lives in New York City. She’s written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. An outspoken critic of the Bush Administration and the war in Iraq, she’s a member of Gold Star Families for Peace. She completed a novel last year, but since the death of her nephew, Marine Lance Cpl. Chase J. Comley, in Iraq on August 6,’05, she has been writing political articles. She can be reached at: Missybeat@aol.com



Missy Beattie has written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. She was an instructor of memoirs writing at Johns Hopkins’ Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in BaltimoreEmail: missybeat@gmail.com