(Elavalagan, Nov 19, 2019)
One of the excessively glorified present-day phenomena is democracy. It has been sold like a magical powder that would give any nation the best ever possible government over all other methods. And of course in theory democracy sounds smart, just, wise, and whatever other glorifying description one may have for it. But in reality, democracy doesn’t bear fruit in most of the places it should.
Today, even in the best possible environments for democracy – places like the United States of America and the United Kingdom – democratically elected decisions are dragging down their nations to various depths of despair.
To be fair, one shouldn’t be surprised to see democracies failing the people. The definition of democracy is clear; democracy is by the people, for the people. By definition if the people are smart like Mahatma Gandhi and mother Theresa, then the democracy they produce would be “by the smart, for the smart”. But what if the people are not so smart, not so wise, or not so just, divisively divided etc.?
The untold truth is democracy needs a list of supporting environments to produce a better government. Just having everyone vote by itself cannot do the magic. Democracy is very much a conditional glory. If the conditions are not supported, even democracy can bring evil to the throne and hell to the nation. That has been the case in most of the so-called democracies around the world.
First, democracy naturally would work out better if it is exercised within a land of a single people; one race, one religion, one color, one language etc., and they are free of manmade deep divisions along the political party-lines. There have been only a few of this type of mono-ethnic undivided nations in the world that have been enjoying the fruits of democracy. Nowadays even that count is fast dwindling.
If a nation has multiple peoples on the other hand, democracy practically fails due to naturally opposing interests, views, beliefs, races, religions, languages etc. Democracy itself cannot overcome this natural division to produce a better government. And the definition of democracy doesn’t claim to do so either. When democracy is exercised in a nation of multiethnic peoples, the majority would tend to rule all the minorities and democratically they have enough votes to do so. The cheap politicians who are not smart enough to talk about economy, exploration, innovation etc. would simply launch cheap attacks on the minorities to collect political wins and be democratically successful. And claiming courts would protect the minorities is a total joke in most multiethnic lands.
Second, smartness of the people is an important ingredient that is necessary for democracy to provide fruitful outcomes. Not needing a license to vote doesn’t mean no knowledge is needed to vote. If a country is with a large population that cannot even read or write, then don’t expect democracy to take the corrective actions and produce a better government there. If one is not wise and poor, then even a glass of liquor will get the vote. These people may have good heart, but electing good governance needs much more than that. It doesn’t mean college and university educated people always cast their vote wisely either. The knowledge needed to vote wisely comes from beyond a textbook or classroom knowledge.
Third, thanks to the political parties, there are manmade political fault lines even within a single people. This is the deep division killing nations like the United States of America nowadays. Political parties, the evil side of democracy that thrive in divide-and-conquer, and the media enterprises that scavenge on those deep divisions put the national interest behind their own interests. From the political pundits to stand-up comedians, from the members of the media enterprises to sitcom stars, all make fortunes out of this misfortune. There will be no end to this any time in the near future.
Divide-and-conquer already took America to a no-return point and has been sinking it slowly. This manmade divide between the left and right in the United States today is deeper than most of the race and religious divides in other parts of the world. And the political and the media enterprises in the US like to keep it that way – for profitable reasons.
Though the definition of democracy doesn’t even mention political parties, practically democracy cannot see the light of a day without the political parties. Democracy has got the tiger – the party politics – by the tail.
Brexit drama in the UK shows how badly a well-informed society can handle a serious matter. This society used to think enough before action. Even that kind of wise society failed twice to exercise democracy wisely; first in joining the European Union, and then in getting out of it. They shot their own foot by thinking a simple electoral victory can answer a gigantic question. A weighted democracy could have given them a clear answer, instead of simple electoral victory.
Israel, largely a mono-ethnic society, is about to go into its 3rd election in a year. They had the first election in April of 2019, and then the second in September of 2019. Both of those two general elections failed to elect a government to rule. Registered voter count was 6.3 million, casted votes count was 4.3 million, turnout was 68.5%, government elected was 0. Democracy in this fractured nation gave a fractured electoral decision that cannot form a functioning government.
Democracy is like a knife. Only the wise will use it wisely and with the precision with which it was intended. The rest will use it like an infant and make the matters bloody.