THE problem with democracy, Thomas Jefferson once mused, is that it is essentially a form of mob-rule. The biggest crowd gets what it wants at the expense of the smaller.
A more pertinent problem, however, as my old grandad would say, is that people can’t always be trusted to agree with you. There’s always someone with a different - that is to say, a wrong - opinion.
Adolf Hitler, John Major and Steve Brookstein all won popular votes.
And so too has Daniel Lloyd Davey.
Never heard of him?
He’s a Suffolk lad and he’s just topped a poll to find that region’s greatest cultural icon. Didn’t just top it, in fact. Blitzed it.
Got six times more votes than second place (which was an Ipswich swimming pool).
Except organisers, the Choose Suffolk tourist board, have gone all Adolf and excluded Lloyd Davey.
They don’t think his image is suitable - and possibly they have a point.
Lloyd Davey, see, is the long-haired, perma-pasty, censor-shocking vocalist with extreme metal band Cradle Of Filth. He’s a man whose songs boast of being “poised to sodomise the world” and whose most famous T-shirt shows a nun doing something most unholy with a crucifix.
Put simply, it seems those swimming baths will get the nod instead.
That’s democracy for you, eh?
Here in Sheffield, the city council is taking no such risks with the Sheffield Legends walkway.
Bosses have taken my grandad’s stance, decided the people can’t be trusted and, thus, while the public are encouraged to nominate Sheffielders deserving of the 17th star outside the town hall, we don’t get to actually vote on it. There’s an appointed panel to make the right decision for us.
Presumably the worry is we might poll someone ridiculous like Def Leppard...oh...they’re already there.
The hair metallers have a space right next to the likes of Banks and Coe and Hancock and Cocker (Joe).
Yet, in the spirit of nominating new contenders, I say this to Sheffield Council: one name, one giant name, remains missing – and I don’t mean Bobby Knutt. Nor am I referring to Huntsman or Hawley, Carpenter or Cocker (Jarvis), Arthur Wharton or Anne Knight.
Ye Gods, I’m not even talking about Henry Henderson – who, after all, deserves nothing less than a statue.
No, the girl I’m thinking of eclipses them all.
A girl, indeed.
Has to be. Of 16 Sheffield Legends honoured so far, only one – astronaut Helen Sharman – doesn’t have an appendage between their legs.
So, take a (big) step forward, World War One steel worker Lizzie Ward.
Yeah, she was an elephant but surely no creature has ever embodied the spirit of Sheffield so well.
Surely her hard and important war work transporting steel and machines around the yard of Thomas Ward should be celebrated.
Surely her loyalty, sacrifices and Beano-style sense of humour, which would see her use her trunk to steal school boys’ caps and housewives’ cakes, is the very stuff of legend.
And surely a star for Lizzie would be a star for every single steel worker who built this city and every single person who made so many sacrifices to protect it - and King and country - during two world wars.
She is the good and the grit and the gosh-how-quirky in all of us.
Give Sheffielders a chance to vote and give that girl a star.