My dayplanner notes that today is the “International Day of Democracy”. I wonder if it will be celebrated by the people in power. If it is mentioned by them, what will they say and do? People who love the democratic process as well as those who fear and hate the democratic process are fond of praising and extolling democratic values.
It’s interesting to note how many countries that suffer under authoritarian regimes have the word “democratic” in their official names; I count at least five. There are Algeria, Congo, Ethiopia, Laos, and most infamously, North Korea. What is further interesting is that no nation that is governed as a pure democracy or a democratic republic has the word “democratic” in their official names.
“A pure democracy is a society consisting of a small number of citizens, who assemble and administer the government in person.”–James Madison
There are a good number of nations actually governed under some form of democratic republic structure. They popularly regard themselves as democracies or as democratic nations. Among the many are India, Costa Rica, Canada, and the United States. There’s another North American nation with “united” in its official title–The United Mexican States. Mexico lists itself as a federal presidential constitutional republic.
We have placed democracy on a pedestal as an ideal. We see it as a catalyst that enables personal and social liberty and development.
Democracy has a great many advantages for society as a whole, but there is one major problem with it. That is the tyranny of the majority. This happens when minority status people are treated unfairly due to their situations being different from that of the majority of people in a democratically governed nation. This problem is partially addressed by instituting a democratic republic rather than governing by pure democracy. In a democratic republic, the needs and concerns of the minorities are not overlooked out of hand.
“Tyranny naturally arises out of democracy.”–Plato
Another major flaw of democracy is that it contains the seeds of its own destruction. Citizens can knowingly or unknowingly vote it out of existence. In as much as most people desire democratic forms of government, tyrants need to convince their followers to alter their governance through deceitful and dishonest ways. Deceit is the smokescreen through which the power-hungry seize control of nations. Truthfulness, openness, and integrity provide safeguards for the democratic process.
Democratic republics have been under constant attack ever since their inceptions. Opponents of democracy have used sophisticated and/or brutal means of subverting it. The enemies of democracy are currently on the ascendant at home and abroad. We are losing our democratic republics through erosion by deceitful individuals and groups.
Erosion of democracy not only can happen here, it is happening here. Either through the groups who are working towards invoking a constitutional convention, or through intrigue and violence it is now happening. Advocates of plutocracy, theocracy, and oligarchy are hard at work to undermine our freedoms.
Today is as good a day as any to rededicate ourselves to promoting stability, economic development, fair human rights for all, and democracy. The democratic republic form of governance represents the highest political values. We must not take it for granted because once it is lost, it might never be restored–at least in our lifetimes. Citizens of democratic republics can never take democracy for granted. Laziness and apathy feed democracy’s foes.
The Blue Jay of Happiness ponders a quote by philosopher/politician Roberto Unger. “In a world of democracies, in a world where the great projects that have set humanity on fire are the projects of the emancipation of individuals from entrenched social division and hierarchy; in such a world individuals must never be puppets or prisoners of the societies or cultures into which they have been born.”