Axver (axver) wrote,

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Democracy in action.

Has anyone been following the current electoral strife in Ukraine? It has recently come to my attention, and I must say that I am impressed - it would appear democracy and people power can sometimes work and protestors may have forced fresh elections. If indeed they have, this might be a victory for democracy.

Might be. After all, reports are filtering through from Ukraine that Western media coverage isn't entirely accurate. While it has depicted opposition supporters as gallant defenders of democracy fighting for their rights in the face of corruption, there has also apparently been much support shown for the pro-Russian 'victor' of the elections and country opinion is essentially divided. I am concerned that whatever court ruling is handed down from the judges, it has the potential to trigger violence. I'll be watching this one with baited breath.

However, if there is a victory for democracy, I'm not sure I will be jumping up and down with excitement. It seems that it's not politically correct to hold my viewpoint, but I believe democracy, in practice, does not work. It's a lot more like communism than many would wish to believe - nice theory, but it doesn't work in practice. Allow me to explain myself. For democracy to function effectively, people need to investigate issues, formulate opinions, and vote for the candidate who they feel is best for the country and international community as a whole. No nation lives in isolation and requires a government that will most satisfactorily address global issues while providing an acceptable standard of living to its citizens, encompassing fields as vast as education and security. Electing a government should not be a popularity contest. For democracy to work, people need to use their brains, put aside personal interests, and vote for the best candidate. Furthermore, candidates need to formulate plans that address issues rather than creating incentives to swing marginal voters. As an example, a tax cut might appeal to someone's selfish side, but an end to the consumption of certain fuels may prolong the sustainability of the planet by centuries, and in a democratic system working properly, intelligent voters would select the better candidate who is offering environmental reforms rather than a needless tax break (this is presuming the benefits of the tax break look pathetic in light of the environmental reforms).

Unfortunately, democracy does not work as it should. Watch an election and you will quickly see it is a popularity contest where candidates attempt to attract voters through offers and promises rather than encouraging the population to make an educated choice and select the most appropriate person for the office. Indeed, I remember watching a news article before the Australian election this year that explored how appearance can swing many voters. Yes, you read that correctly. A politician's hair cut, suit colour, and watch can swing voters. These people aren't making an educated, intelligent choice. They aren't investigating issues and voting for who they feel will most adequately fulfill their duties to the citizens of both the nation and the world. These people are voting on shallow terms in what is little more than a petty popularity contest.

Simply put, democracy only works when the voters are intelligent.

You can't put in safeguards against stupidity either. You cannot ensure that voters are voting based upon sound motives rather than appearance. You can't ensure people are voting for the best candidate rather than the hometown hero or someone who will satisfy their selfish demands even if they destroy the economy or alliances at the same time. There is no way you can make sure that voters are choosing wisely. That is why I do not believe in democracy.

So do I have a better idea? No. Do I have an alternate system to propose? No. I am criticising democracy, but I am not discarding it. I am yet to find any other political system that works, and democracy seems to be the best of a bad bunch. Stalinism didn't work in the USSR and anarchism didn't work in Somalia, did they now? So, until I create or find a better idea, I will continue to hesitantly support democracy. Good luck to the people of Ukraine. Elect your leader; don't let corruption elect one for you.

(For the record, I am not attempting to attack any political allegiances, parties, or outcomes in this post, nor am I attempting to insult anyone's intelligence. Nowhere did I attempt to subtly make references to George Bush, Tony Blair, Ariel Sharon, Pervez Musharraf, Helen Clark, or anyone else. If you feel insulted, know that I did not intend to do that.)
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