Ironic isn’t it?
That the people who are such ardent supporters of democracy by electing those currently forming the Government of the U.K. and USA have done so by appearing to reject the very democracy that they claim to uphold.
The problem is that they may well have a point and those in political power certainly wouldn’t be the first politicians whose instincts are to avoid democracy at all costs on the grounds that it doesn’t deliver what they and their party want?
Following Independence in 1786 – or thereabouts – the founders of the USA were absolutely adamant that they did not want to replicate the Great Britain Model of Democracy or what we would call today, ‘positive discrimination’ democracy where only those considered worthy and capable – no women here – had the right to vote.
George Washington summed the feelings up when he said of democracy that,
“Democracy accounted by civil societies is the worst and nastiest kind of government”
Of course he was talking of the unequal, unjust and unfair democracy of the period which wouldn’t be applicable to the open, transparent and honest politics of today.
The problem is that modern-day democracy has highlighted time and time again that of what could be called – at least it’s what I intend to call it –
An “elected dictator led tyranny by the majority party”
The problem is that when a party has a large majority the oppositions ability to hold the Government to account is effectively reduced to impotency being no more use than that of eunuchs in a brothel.
They watch the ‘democratic’ process every day whilst being unable to do anything to prevent the excesses of the ruling party and even to be involved in any meaningful way.
Perhaps this is the reason so many in the UK and USA choose not to vote?
Life becomes more interesting when the party of Government have only a small majority – and no that is not a pun or euphemism for something else – in which “Rebels” within the ruling party suddenly find themselves with an immense amount of bargaining power.
The problem of course is that in a system of democracy of one man one vote (and before I’m accused of being sexist) one woman one vote, and first past the post the status quo will be maintained.
Challenge it at your own risk, but surely it is time to look again at what we want democracy to be, after all our politicians are only too happy to send young men and women to war and to die to support and bring about democracy through regime changes in far off places.
The USA system was designed primarily to prevent a majority party from ruling in an elected dictatorial manner by having two chambers that not only hold the President and his executive to account but also each other.
It hasn’t always worked however and as far as the “Politicos” were concerned backfired when the people decided that they rather liked, trusted and respected the incumbent President, one Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who they returned to office on no less than four occasions.
The USA Republicans answer was swift and led to a major change – ‘Amendment’ – to the Constitution that limits the Presidency to no more than two terms.
Isn’t it strange that the USA are willing to limit the choice of who the people want to vote to be their president yet aren’t willing to pass an amendment to limit gun ownership designed to protect the very same people?
There has of course been landslide victories since for the Presidency just as there has been landslide victories for both Labour and Conservatives in the UK which has led to abuse of power all excused by, “We have a clear mandate from the people”
And it isn’t only at national level that we see democratic dictatorships.
It happens at the local level as well and has become increasingly prevalent since the introduction of the Cabinet system in local politics that has led to increased intentional misleading and in some cases downright untruths being told to support decisions taken.
There are numerous examples, in Northampton where I recently lived we have seen it in the use of bully boy tactics against those who oppose the majority party from the sale of the Sekhemka Statue and Delapre Abbey preservation to the opening up of Abington Street and loan to the local professional football club.
The question is how do you prevent abuse of power of position and hold such political leaders to account?
What is becoming increasingly clear in the UK where the membership of the ‘second chamber’ who are supposed to hold the Government of the day to account is that it is no more than a ‘House of Patronage’ whose members are appointed by the very people they are supposed to be holding to account.
Is there any wonder that accusations of cronyism and corruption not only abound but are now so ingrained in the perception of the public that whenever stories of political shenanigans are revealed they are simply accepted as ‘ normal practice’?
So how do we overcome the democratic dictatorships that has now become the norm?
A start would be to recognise the problem, abolish the House of Lords and replace it with an elected chamber.
The argument against is used by those in powers who as persistent prevaricators cry.
So here’s an idea.
At the same time as we have a First Past the Post General Election we give the electorate a second vote for a party of their choice with all of the political parties and independents on the ballot paper.
All parties would have to provide a List of Candidates to the Electoral Commission and then a second chamber of members to be formed on a proportionality basis of 1 member for every 0.5% of votes cast.
And yes the independents would have to talk with each other to establish who goes on a list which wouldn’t be difficult if the lists are established on a regional level.
Members would then be taken in order from the lists and would serve for eight years which would provide a continuity ‘overlap’ between the General Elections.
At the very least we would have a second chamber which reflects the proportional wishes of the electorate and not reliant on patronage to hold the Government to account and scrutinise legislation.
More importantly it would unlikely ever have a majority of the ruling party in its makeup.
Will it ever happen?
Not a chance while both of the major parties have control of the democratic structures.
And who can blame them because of the ingrained fear that it would lead to the public realising the inherent inadequacies and unfairness of the current system of democracy and would demand that the Westminster Government MPs are also elected on a proportionality basis.
The conclusion is depressing, that in the UK the continuation of abuse of the system through democracy dictatorships will continue unless, or perhaps until there is a mass protest movement that demands change.
The problem as I see it is that we have become so conditioned to accept and be obedient to the status quo that it will never happen and certainly not in my lifetime.
So to those who are prepared to accept it, please stop complaining about the politicians we have or the political process.
You only have to have listened to the millionaire politicians speaking at their Annual Conferences to understand what happens when when you have a corrupt and failed democratic system.
Unless people are prepared fo take action they can have no complaints after all the political leaders we have today are exactly what people vote for.
No more, no less
Perhaps we should leave the last word to George Washington
“However [political parties] may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.”
So long live Democracy and the elected dictatorship that comes with it.