Democracy, by the people, for the people. The will of the people. We are taught from a young age that democracy and the process of the people choosing their representatives is the best system in the world. The only political system worth fighting for. We are taught that systems such as monarchy and dictatorships and other systems that remove the right of the people to choose their own representatives are wrong and reprehensible. This line of thinking is a mistake.
Marking an x in a box in a ballot paper makes no more a difference than getting up and accusing a member of the sports team at your local senior school of doing something that hurt you. There are safe seats in democracy, places where political parties will not even bother truly addressing the concerns of the electorate there, because they know that the people there will still vote for them, regardless of what they say. There are a few seats that make a difference, and there the people are bombarded by adds and campaign slogans, that mean nothing. A political party gets elected, and people expect immediate change, but nothing can be done. A five-year term is not enough to bring stability to the economy, it is not enough to restore confidence in the markets, or to ensure that mental health is properly addressed and not cut down in size.
The people are either too naïve or too cynical to truly believe that by doing this voting business they are making a difference. The political parties of the world feed off creating division within the countries they operate in. They create an us and them mentality, that means that one side will become the tyrant when it wins against the losing party. Enforcing policies half the population did not vote for. Democracy is supposed to be for the people, by the people, but if all people are not getting what they wanted, how is that fair? Proportional Representation in democracy breeds coalitions, a slight answer to this problem, that can produce solid government in Germany, or indecisive multi-party coalitions as in the Netherlands.
The cycle continues and on until someone causes a revolution, or until people die. Even the populist surges in Europe and the United States are not that surprising. Elites such as Donald Trump, Emmanuel Macron, Marine Le Pen and Nigel Farage play on the fears of working people, and extend the safety net of their hard-earned toil, to ensure that they get the result they want. In Farage’s case, they run away when the job is half done, in the others, they repeat the same lies that their predecessors told. The only difference comes in that one is seen by the liberals as some sort of cosy saviour, whilst the others are extremist right wing bigots.
Democracy has led to advancements, but only in the sense that politicians can sense the mood of the people and act. But the ever-changing mood of the people means they must constantly change their focus. Many things are left half done, there is no long-term planning, there is nothing done for a time when things might hit hard because this is not what the people want. The people want to be reassured that everything will be alright, for there is enough instability and uncertainty in their own lives, that they do not want it reflecting in the government. Politicians, therefore, gamble the safety and security of the nation, on the whims of people who might not fully understand what it is they are gambling. This is foolish.
A nation should not have its future hung on the promises of five-year gamblers. It should not solely rely on people who might not even remember what they had for dinner the previous day, let alone what they think of the Bank of England raising interest rates, or of the FTSE rising or falling. Or how the situation in Syria affects relations between countries far away from the conflict zone. Until there is a true and proper discussion of how democracy functions and whether it is working the way it is supposed to, or the way we are told it is supposed to, this cycle will continue.
People will continue voting for the shiniest and the prettiest candidates-yes Justin Trudeau that means you- for the angriest and loudest candidate- Donald Trump take a bow- or for the minority candidate- Barack Obama/ Hilary eat your heart out- because those are the things that appeal to them. As long as this continues, politicians will continue pandering to the electorate, instead of getting on in the business of running the country for long-term progress. Progress was made in the post-war years and before that because governments were willing to take risks, to make bold statements about what they wanted to be and how they saw their citizens progressing. Now, politicians should be shiny, they must be everything but a person fit to run the country they wish to help lead through change. We are seeing the results of this now, and it does not bode well for the future.