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A Democracy? What Have We Wrought? - Articles Surfing
One of the great fallacies abroad is thinking that any regime today can lay claim to being democratic. None are. Though we say they are democratic and that they are democracies, they are actually republican government?representative democracies. This means that certain people are elected to serve the interests of the people at large. These representatives make the decisions for the people rather than the people making them. And these representatives are elected for a period of time during which period they cannot be removed except for what amount to crimes or malfeasance.
If we had real democracies, the people would make the decisions on any policy of government. It would be the people as legislators?and enforcers, by the way. But that doesn?t go far enough either. If we truly had a democracy, that is, a system of government responsive to the desires of the people, then an official would have to wear a device that would track what the people want. And when a majority is reached either to do an act or not do it, the official would have to either do it or cease doing it depending. And that would be true even down to the level of what is said or not said. If the people do not want a particular official to use a particular word, the will of the people would rule. Vox populi, vox dei. The wishes of the people are the only thing that matters.
Government, however, would not be possible if this were the case even though now this is much more feasible to do. (Some people are advocating just this type of thing by the way. And all this concern about polls to augur by is much of the same thing.) No treaty could be negotiated, nor legislation could ever be passed and no criminal could ever be apprehended, tried and convicted, if this were the case. It would be government by committee and that committee would be the committee of the whole people. And, pardon the expression, it would be a rabble.
As it is, representatives are elected for a term of years and the people are not allowed in to express their wishes except for every 2 years, 4 years, or 6 years depending. This allows an insulation from the people that is intended to create a space for the representative to act in the common good. This means that the common good should be the interest. The people will vote on it later by voting on the representative. By that time, however, passions may have cooled, the result may be clearer or the argument made might have a better chance of carrying the day. The point is that sometimes the people demand what is not good for them, or they sometimes demand what is not good for a sizeable minority of people. The mob is still a distinct possibility.
Is this elitist? Well, yes. But the elitism was to have been moderated by an intelligent people, a people who were involved and understood the issues and went to a meeting from time to time on some problem of government or society. But even so this is the form of government we have and it has worked very well over the past centuries. And it is only when the public good is not the primary focus of government that we have had problems.
Usually, the people arguing for this kind of thing argue this way because they think they have a greater chance of getting power by yoking themselves to the people. Wherever the people go, they go?and they will swear they were there first. But it is demagoguery, literally. And it can create the likes of a Hugo Chavez. And this sort of reasoning can also form the basis for a regime like Vladimir Putin?s in Russia. (Protect me and give me some stability and we will forgive your use and possibly abuse of power. But that argument though is for another time.)
So is a policy something the people want or isn?t it. Maybe it is or it isn?t but that ought not be the issue--whether it is good or bad for the country ought to be the focus of attention. And, if it is good, a statesman, as opposed to a politician, would bring the people along with him?or her.
Copyright © 1995 - Photius Coutsoukis (All Rights Reserved).
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