Is Democracy Failing?

Is the grand experiment of representative democracy crashing under the weight of voter demands and political appeasment?

Is Democracy Failing?

A lot of us defend democracy. The notion that everyone gets a say in how our society is governed seems fair, equitable and just.

However, in contemplating that tradition, I am also mindful of the words of Abraham Lincoln.

“Elections belong to the people. It's their decision. If they decide to turn their back on the fire and burn their behinds, then they will just have to sit on their blisters.”

The problem is that no one is expected to sit on their blisters today. The burnt behinds are the fault of the person who built the fire, or the inflammable nature of their clothes or any other perceived miscarriage.

Politicians feed this lack of personal responsibility with ever grander schemes to apply a soothing balm to whatever ails the voter.

The voters have come to expect this as they now realise that:

“A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the majority discovers it can vote itself largess out of the public treasury. After that, the majority always votes for the candidate promising the most benefits with the result the democracy collapses because of the loose fiscal policy ensuing, always to be followed by a dictatorship, then a monarchy.”
Elmer T Peterson

While I have seen that quote before, I never really believed it. For some reason, I assumed democracies were a well-established part of human history. They aren't.

Indeed, in many democratic countries, the free vote for all citizens has only been established for decades rather than centuries.

In the USA, the land of the free, women only got to vote nationally in 1920. The last restrictions on Aboriginal voters in Australia were lifted only in 1965. It was similar for the Native Americans, who only gained a statewide franchise in 1962.

These merely serve as examples of what we take for granted today is a relatively new phenomenon. Hence, one could say electoral democracy has been a relatively brief experiment.

It is now an experiment that I fear for the future of.

Across the world, we have seen unprecedented power used by governments to unilaterally shut down businesses or enrich others under the guise of health.

These same governments allow 75,000 people to attend a footy game but only 1400 to pay their respects on ANZAC day. That should tell you something about their future plans.

The Roman poet Juvenal wrote:

... Already long ago, from when we sold our vote to no man, the People have abdicated our duties; for the People who once upon a time handed out military command, high civil office, legions — everything now restrains itself and anxiously hopes for just two things: bread and circuses.

Is that what we are seeing today - bread and circuses?

The legislative changes mooted by the Biden administration in America move the country increasingly in the direction of a one-party state. That's already happened in the democratic Russia and the sham 'democracy' that is Communist China.

I write that because China allows its Party members to vote. It just so happens that something terrible occurs if they don't all vote the same way!

Many brutal regimes practice a similar democratic tradition.

But in the more traditional democratic nations, governments indulge the public in the largesse they demand by printing money and scattering it wherever electoral support is needed.

As a result, too many now feel they don't need to work and build wealth through traditional means.

Speculation in financial markets is rampant as clicking a mouse to buy a stock virtually guaranteed to rise through government printing presses beats working all day.

However, like all great speculations, this one will eventually end and end badly.

The pieces of the shattered economy will eventually have to be swept away, which may result in a form of governance that is very different from what we are used to.

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