As time goes by, I find it hard to accept so may changes to what I thought was a confirmed view of democracy. Firstly I assumed that democracies exist for the common good. This meant essentially behaving within the law and to the spirit of the law.
Now, I was born when the nuclear family was the basis of Christian Democracy, both terms Christian and democracy stood as important foundation ideas for the way we hoped to live. During my lifetime the Christian and its associated religious ideals have waned, though many would still claim that even without religious connotations the ideas and ideals of the philosophy still hold good.
The other great principle of democracy is, of course, individual freedom within the law, including freedom of speech, assembly, and the written or broadcast word.
All these liberating freedoms are circumscribed within the law. The law from Magna Carta to this day has evolved reflecting changes especially the migration of people and ideas, religious or not. There have been many instances where the acceptance of ideas and religions have not been received easily or without resistance, so that democracy itself has been subverted.
Democracy, I always thought, was a system of Government in which power invested in the people and exercised by them through freely elected representatives. So, consequently, Democratic Government should, or is it must, reflect the majority view? What about the freedom of the minority? How does democratic government respond to change?
Change has, as ever, been rampant, sometimes clearly for the good and espousing the basic values of selflessness and kindness. The realisation that history has shown that mans evolution is full of community and tribal defences and aggressions, some clearly evil by today’s standards. The changes are usually wrought through minority intervention, and almost inevitably ridiculed by the majority that favours the status quo. Some even attempt to subvert ‘progress’ by attempting to change into backward steps, for example the Trumpian effort to undermine the democratic elective process in the US.
The minority have views that are crazy sometimes, progressive sometimes, the big question is how do we make room institutionally to accommodate both the crazy and the progressive and then to reject or accept that which is right and progressive?
It all boils down to the idea of voting by individual for a government that will reflect our views and beliefs. This is clearly a deeply flawed system, but its the only one we have, if we espouse the idea of democracy. Can we accommodate the debate that democracy maybe the wrong way to go, and we should go the totalitarian route of the Chinese republic, for example. We have seen the dangers of ‘couldn’t care less’ electorates, the lopsided conspiracists, and the populist ‘last idea is best’ and the simply ‘crooked’. All these have evolved from so called democratic governments.
Accommodating change within the continued prospect of mass migration, the richer getting richer and the poor poorer, the planet either drowning or burning, is beyond most of our comprehension. Yet we must decide if the idea of a just democracy is worth sustaining. What are we going to do about it?
Amongst the most troubling issues that face us all are race and gender. Two of the great empirics of human kind. That they are seen as major issues is in itself astonishing, and expressions on these issues are so often hateful. How sad is that?
The issues of misogyny, race and democracy all depend on the human race to put aside our tribal differences and to respect one another. Respect is a big word. Respect those who have impaired abilities, respect those of different colour, gender or view. The very basis of democracy is the respect of the elected for the electorate and vice versa. We all have a way to go, and very little time to get there.
Time to wake up, with respect to us all.