Democracy is the power of equal votes for unequal minds,’ an utterance attributed to Charles the First of England in the seventeenth century, can be countered by Abraham Lincoln’s ‘No man is good enough to govern another man without that man’s consent,’ in the nineteenth century.
Thus, in time, it came to pass that, in developed Western nations, citizens became entitled to vote in near-periodic elections, to elect those who would govern them for a specific period (but with some flexibility of duration). The votes would be cast for political parties, in the main. Hope, optimism, and opportunism by individuals and some small parties would be constrained, almost inevitably, by the evolution of 2 major, but ideologically opposed, parties.
Those qualified to vote do not vote for the individuals who are offered to represent them in each electorate. Instead, they vote for their party of choice, since their electoral candidates are chosen by the party leadership, not by electors. No duty statements citing requisite qualifications, work experience, and aptitude for the job are involved. A genius or a donkey – how could electors know? How prescient was R.W.Emerson in the nineteenth century when he said ‘Democracy becomes a government of bullies tempered by editors’?
Worse still, in most Western nations, voting is not compulsory, thus making it easier for the entrenchment of those who achieve control of the major parties.
Yet, it is this form of democracy, known as Western democracy, which is being sold, or required of, developing nations everywhere. The prime objective of this marketing effort is to replace tribal leadership of the traditional, historical, and generally durable kind with the tribal leadership of political parties. It is, of course, easier in a Western democracy to replace a political party, or a party leadership, with another; except that this would be akin to replacing Tweedledum with Tweedledee from ‘Alice through the looking glass.’
In the event, could not one honestly assert that, when voters are given the opportunity to change governments, it is effectively only on marginal issues? What might these marginal issues be? Seeking to protect the environment, feather-bedding needed foreign investors, subsidising some of the wealthy, non-specific foreign aid, some middle-class welfare, and so on?
In Australia, it is on human rights that the people are not represented by the major political parties. A national bill of rights is denied, as this would seemingly interfere with the rule-by-authority practice of certain churches. Voluntary (repeat, voluntary) euthanasia is not permitted even when the best of palliative care is seen to be clearly inadequate to counter the most severe pain in specific cases; but family pets can be ‘put down’ (that is, killed) without challenge.
The mantra evoked by opponents of voluntary euthanasia refers to ‘killing,’ the ‘slippery slope,’ and the implied mendacity of the descendants of those who might be seeking relief from a terrible existence.
It is difficult to understand why the stance of the Christian churches involved in relation to this issue, as well as the issues of birth control and abortion, is supported by a majority of politicians of all colours in Australia, when about 30 % of the Australian population denies institutional religion, and the dogma-driven religionists account for a lot less than a quarter of the nation’s population.
Clearly, the Australian federal parliament has fallen under the control of religious conservatives on both sides of the political divide. The media is, of course, careful not to draw attention to this. Thus, the political leaders of under-developed or ‘emerging nations’ will take heart in the operational exigencies of Western democracy as marketed by the leading Western nations.
As said by a William Penn in the eighteenth century, ‘Let the people think they govern, and they will be governed.’
(The above is a slightly modified article previously published in www.ezinearticles.com. Australians will not be free from governance by unrepresentative political parties until minority parties and individuals replace the union-controlled and big-end-of-town-influenced parties.)