Thoughts

Actual Democracy Would Be Nice

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First of all I want to express that I’m incredibly grateful and lucky to live in a country which has a democracy, and also to live in a time period where women have the vote.

But wouldn’t it be super awesome and, you know, right, if we had even more than that?

If we had an actual democracy?

I heard somebody saying, the other week, that true democracy means the people get to vote on every law that’s to be passed. Not just on what ”lesser evil” party they prefer out of an increasingly similar three or two choices. In the UK it’s not mandatory to vote, and many people don’t. ukpollingreport.co.uk says “Turn-out for the last few elections has only been around 60%”. One  might deduce from this statistic that just under half the populace is contented with things the way they are and are happy to let everyone else take the reins. Anyone with their eyes and ears open will contest this however, saying it’s not that they’re contented it’s just that none of the options (parties) appeal to them. Or they think it won’t make a difference. Or they think the polls will be skewed. Whatever the reason, the average Jo has much to complain about in terms of the government, and little in the way of warm fuzzy feelings of trust.

And is it any wonder we don’t feel our vote has much power?

Prime Ministers and Presidents aren’t under any legal obligation to do anything they say they will during their election campaigns. How ridiculous is that? Plus the two or three main parties seem to get more similar all the time.  And then all governments appear to have an outrageous weakness for corporations’ checkbooks. It’s almost like they’re more interested in money and power than the needs of the people… Hmm…

And then there’s all this controversy over the silly zero-heavy salaries they take home while the rest of us are staggering about in the grips of a recession.

I can’t help thinking perhaps all this politician malarkey is a bit of a waste of money.

Before you write me off as a crazy anarchist, let me make it clear that I do actually still want a government. Just a radically different political system. I still want a local MP to represent my views and interests. I still want specialists like the Minister of Justice, Minister of Health etc. But I feel it would be fair if we all voted on every law and policy.

I know what people will say to this:

“People aren’t well informed enough to know what’s good for them!”

Mm. Okay. But is that really a surprising accident? Aren’t we in, the West, conditioned to be stupid and thoughtless? Isn’t our education system tunnel-visioned on passing exams and securing a mind-numbing but well-paid office job? And isn’t our media stuffed full of, I’m sorry, inane bull***t, celebrity gossip, trivial sports statistics, barbie-doll beauty and ”reality”?

If we had the right (actually I think it should be mandatory) to vote on everything, then it should be the responsibility of the media to provide well-rounded education on all of the issues covered. There should also be regular free-for-all talks by specialists and coffee-shop discussions in every town. There should be discussion shows on TV where experts and ‘ordinary’ people with different views hash it out. There should be a plethora of events, talks, public debates, news and blogs to harbor a vibrant public sphere. People should be presented with the resources they need to form an intelligent opinion.

What do you think?

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12 thoughts on “Actual Democracy Would Be Nice

  1. Tegan I wish you could reform the governments of the west. Here in the US our government officials are more beholden to the lobbyists and corporations than they are to the people and just a couple years ago, the Supreme Court ruled corporations are people and there fore free to participate in our elections. What may be even more surprising in this development is that our constitution withholds the right to vote unless you are a citizen, yet many of our large corporations are owned by foreigners which is breaking all our laws to allow them to be involved in our elections. I stopped voting this year out of frustration and have been focusing my attention on my small community and how I can make things better there. I believe any change will have to come from the people or the bottom up, but like you said so well, our educational system isn’t educating people on being citizens, but to push them into jobs where they will be nothing more than yes-men/women for their lives.

    • Ha, I wish I could too. I have so many ideas but implementing even the smallest one is such a challenge… I heard about the American ‘corporations get citizen’s rights’ law and I’m sorry to say I basically didn’t believe it at first because it’s just so outrageous. I haven’t been allowed to vote yet as my 18th birthday was just after the last general election in the UK (the outcome of which is generally agreed to be about as good as if we set a plague of rats in charge of the country) but next time I will vote Green, if there is that option. I feel we should still vote because if everyone who cares for a sustainable and fair future doesn’t, then whose opinions will the polling stations be left with..,. But it is all too easy to despair when it becomes clear just how corrupt our systems are. I feel perhaps it’ll get worse before it gets better, that environmental and social crisis will in the next few decades come to a climax and then space and desire for a radically new paradigm will be possible. One can only hope! And act, of course!

      • Tegan, you do have amazing ideas I love reading your blog for just that reason. Setting a plague of rats is a great phrase, it’s the same here. I am so surprised by how young you are and so well spoken and knowledgeable for your age. You and a couple others I have met online in the blogging community give me so much hope for the future. I see what kids learn,or don’t learn, in the schools here and really worry about what the future will bring. Recently, it became an option to take a course in civics/government to graduate. I was blown away, basically you can graduate without ever learning any thing about how the country works so how will those people ever understand what they are voting for and who from the upcoming generations will be running the country?

        • Thank you! It’s so encouraging when I get positive feedback on my writing, and I really appreciate the thoughtful discussions you contribute. It can be hard to find like-minded people in day to day life so I’m thankful we also have the internet to network and communicate! I feel the same way – I’m anxious about how my generation will manage the double inheritance of our beautiful planet, and the lengthy portfolio of problems we face… I just want to be of as much help in the challenge as possible! I think the world will go through some pretty massive changes in my lifetime, hopefully it will be greener on the other side!!

  2. An even better solution: Actually teach politics (even if it’s very broad) in school!
    Maybe this is just my experience, but I was never taught politics or anything about the major parties and still know next to nothing about them. Everything I do know is gleaned from those famously non-biased sources: my parents and the internet :P
    A small, mandatory subject on topics like politics and economics could go a long way to making sure everyone with the right to vote actually has some self-formed political opinion and the amazing extent of the power that vote gives them.

    • Hi Felix, thanks for coming over and taking the time to comment! I think that’s a great idea… And it’s not just you, I didn’t get any politics in school either and I haven’t really heard of anyone in a non-private school doing it before AS level. I really do think we should get some kind of information on this… But the standard opinion seems to be that young people aren’t interested in politics. I also hate the way it’s all conducted in such a pompous, elitist, jargon-heavy, archaic and hard-to-understand manner. I mean of course it should be formal as opposed to friendly, but it should be in standard language so people actually get what’s going on….

  3. Yeah I think education is key and definately a true democracy requires active participation from everyone that the politics effects. In Athens people where able to come to the governing body of athens and put forward their problems or solutions. I think it should be a better representation of the people.

    • Absolutely. It would be interesting to do a survey on how many citizens are actually happy with the way the government operates. If it’s less than half, then the legitimacy of ‘democracy status’ would be weakened…

  4. Pingback: My Friday Faves, February 22 | livingsimplyfree

  5. I think you are One amazing young lady who has lots of common sense in a world where common sense is often thrown out the window in favour of profit..
    My hope for a future is given great faith when I hear such wisdom from one who appears so young, and yet no doubt you are an ‘old soul’ like many who are being born right now.. I see it even in my own 2 yr old granddaughter who can speak so well even though just passing her second birthday in December.. And whose words and connection with nature astounds.. She has a strong will…. and those of you who are here to bring our future forward need to be strong and have common sense….

    You are truly an ‘Earth Baby!’ Tegan ….. Be Proud ..

    Blessings Sue Dreamwalker.. I came via your Blog from Livingsimplyfree :-)

    • Thank you so much Sue – I really appreciate your words. I’m happy I’ve given you some inspiration! Your daughter sounds adorable – make sure you nurture her natural love of nature (haha such a tongue twister) – the Earth could depend on it.
      Also happy you picked up on the meaning of my blog’s name!

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