What is this thing: Democracy?

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.


3 thoughts on “What is this thing: Democracy?”

  1. I would say that in order to have won an election it’s pretty certain that you’ve done things that should exclude you from doing so.

    Democracy… is a fallacy, said it a few times before. Everyone gets the idea that they actually count but really they don’t. As long as you go with the flow it will appear that you’re being heard.

    Diversity in populations is a blessing and a curse in this respect. You can’t address a huge variety of issues when some will clash simply because people are so different. Then again, I look around and wonder just how many people know what is good for them and what is not. I can only think of those that strike for weeks on end with short contracts and think, “But you’ll never recover, even with the raise you’re demanding, what you are now losing!” But they’re going with the flow I suppose.

    One man’s freedom fighter is another’s terrorist I suppose. Did Jones, Laden or Koresh have the people’s best interest at heart? Who knows, it’s not really the issue. The point here is that sadly to keep an ideal going they eventually became the monster they sought to erradicate. Sadly a pattern that continues to replicate, time and again.

  2. ” 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” – I hate to be an absolute and utter pessimist here but I don’t think that we actually even have that choice for change that you refer to. It is absolutely impossible for everyone to agree on something. There will always be people who don’t agree. Therefore nothing we can do can make a difference in the big scene of things. We are only one small person. What affect can one small person REALLY realistically have? The best option, as an individual, is to find a community with similar beliefs as you, then you are likely to agree with what is going on around you most of the time. However, not many people have that choice either. Mostly we are stuck where we are and just have to make the best out it.

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