Democracy, the best system of governance we’ve come up with, or is it simply better than what we could have?
Through a long past, democracy has changed many times, sometimes for the better, but even today humankind, ironically, hasn’t found a system all can agree on. Democratic systems are nearly as diverse as democratic countries, but the main point is to give people the right to choose. We can choose who will govern us, by examining their policies on: social; economic and, yes, political issues. In essence, you can choose your own form of democracy. Simply by electing someone, you choose to abide by their systems.
The problem is, this choice is an illusion. Firstly, you take people at face value. Politicians, seldom, if ever live up to their election promises. In America, the most advanced democracy in the world, George Bush (senior) took power with an election promise to not increase taxes. A year later, taxes were increased. More recently, Barack Obama was criticised for breaking most of his election promises within a year of coming to power. The point is, once someone is in power, the voters have no control over what s/he does. That power belongs to the sponsors of that candidate, which brings us to a second point.
Contesting an election costs money, it’s designed like that. As a result, the best qualified person; with the best policies and the most genuine care for their people, doesn’t only not win, they seldom contest. Yes, if it is unreasonably expensive to contest an election, then only people with access to lots of money can contest. So where does this money come from? Rich people, with motives. Odd as it may seem, people don’t simply hand over huge amounts of their hard earned cash for the good of a political ideal. These people will carefully chose someone who is willing to make it easier for them to make money, by changing laws; granting public tenders and the like. The point is, you’re choosing someone who will tell you what you want to hear, and do what someone else wants.
The third point is the fact that freedom of choice and democracy only go hand in hand if you vote with the majority. That’s right, anything up to 4 999 999 people out of a population of 10 000 000, can loose out on their freedom of choice, why? Because they chose the loser. In South Africa we’re lucky, only about thirty percent of the population looses out. Great, if you’re part of the other seventy percent (give or take).
Anarchy (no law at all) is the only system that would allow freedom of choice to everyone. Unfortunately we can’t trust people to choose not to commit crimes against each other. Yes, anarchy means choosing the right thing ‘cos it’s the right thing, not because there may be a consequence. It’s not chaos, people cause the chaos, by taking advantage of each other.
Which leads us back to democracy, we choose all the bad stuff in the world. Maybe not all of us willingly do wrong, but many willingly don’t do right. It is this majority sentiment of disinterest in the interests of others, that leads to the world being, as we choose, disinterested.
This disinterest leads to a helplessness in the minds of interested people, leading to fanatical behaviour. What the average Joe/Joanne seems to miss, is that fanatics are simply desperate people who want to improve the world. Many are attached to religions that preach doing good, but seem to think violence is the only solution in a world where violence is what makes people notice.
Invariably people like this are labelled fanatics; zealots or simply insane. The sad truth is their good intentions lead them into following the Jim Joneses; Osama Bin Ladens or David Koreshes of the world until, these accusations become true. The fact is, cults and fanatical organisations attract people who care enough to want to make a difference, but don’t know how. Their following of charismatic leaders simply makes them the ultimate victims of the society that the majority has elected to live in.
So think about this as you stand in line at the voting station and wonder about all the pain and suffering in the world: it won’t change, unless the majority wants it to; it won’t change unless each person is willing to give up some of their over indulgence for the good of those who don’t have; it won’t change unless each and every one of us becomes would be zealots or fanatics for peace; it won’t change until we choose for it to change.
We truly live in a democratic world, it is like it is, because we choose, every day, we choose.