Is There a Problem With Democracy?
I am watching the news and what I see day after day is: demonstrations. Everywhere. Country after country. Some of the demonstrations are violent.
One could say that demonstrations, even violent ones, are an expression of democracy and to suppress them, like Putin is trying to do in Russia, is to suppress democracy. It is an undemocratic way of holding on to power at any cost, etc.
I disagree. I think that the above claim is analogous to saying that hitting a child is a legitimate expression of your right to control his behavior.
Theoretically speaking, there should be no demonstrations in a democracy and for sure no violent ones either. Just vote the leaders out of power and put in power those that would lead you in the direction you prefer.
The population tried to do that and what happened? The new rulers were “no good either.” Those newly elected leaders very soon were considered “no good” either.
One can notice that there is a see-saw phenomena. If, for instance, the X party is in power, people vote for the opposition and when the opposition is in power, they vote for the new opposition. Watch the elections in England. People vote for the left than at next elections for the right and back to left.
People are desperately looking for leadership to lead them in the direction they trust to be the right one, and since those in power, whoever they are, are not trustworthy, they look for a replacement only to find out that the new ones are not that different, trust wise either.
At a certain point, people lose respect and trust in both parties like it happened in Greece, and then who gets elected? Someone who was not in power and thus has not been tested yet and thus, has not been criticized yet either. See Italy or the winning party in Greece. Or people will elect someone who had no experience ruling or leading and because of that has no record. Example? Obama.
People are getting disenchanted with the election process as a vehicle to be ruled the way they want to be ruled and instead of voting the prescribed way, which they apparently do not trust to work anymore, they vote with their feet: Demonstrate. Burn tires. Smash windows. Fight the police who represents those in power.
I acknowledge that demonstrations can be useful to express voters desires and force the government to react. Take for example the civil rights movement. (I was at the march to Washington with Martin Luther King in 1963. I just arrived to the United States and was impressed with the crowds marching, singing “we shall overcome…”)
Another example of demonstrations that worked is the opposition to the war in Vietnam. But demonstrations are emotionally expensive. With violence they cost lives. Dr Luther King, a student in Kent University and civil rights workers in Mississippi are examples.
Is that what we want? Do we need to demonstrate, burn tires and smash windows to make our desires known and addressed?
Democracy worked in small systems. Athens. The New England City Hall. In systems, where people knew each other, where the elected leaders were in touch with their voters, and where the complexity of the problems was not acute.
Today, we live in a very complex environment. Problems are systemic in nature and whoever is the leader and whichever party he or she represents, cannot solve the problems without getting criticized endlessly or demonstrated against.
The democratic system was created generations ago when the world was simpler. When the pace was slower. When people were not in the “I deserve to be taken care of” mood. Where the mode of behavior was one of giving rather than one of taking. A world of self reliance, not of dependency.
In this new world of “give us bread and entertainment” or “we will burn the house down,” the world of entitlement, the world where people do not want to sacrifice, where they would rather be instantly gratified, being a leader of a democratic system, which depends on those people with the values and behavior described above to be reelected, is a call for being endlessly humiliated and criticized.
Who wants to be a leader in this situation?
What kind of people we elect?
We need to re-engineer the democratic system if it is going to attract the leadership we want, if it is going to stop violence as a means of expression…
Dr. Ichak Kalderon Adizes