Democracy is No Joke.
Winston Churchill said democracy is the worst possible form of government – except for all the others. And you have to wonder whether any system of government can work as long as human beings run it.
This morning I read that Guatemalan voters have elected TV comic Jimmy Morales (lower photos) as their president. Meanwhile in America, Donald Trump (upper photo) and Ben Carson continue to hold a commanding lead in Republican presidential polls.
Outraged over a government corruption scandal, Guatemalans have – apparently – become disillusioned with their political system. According to a Reuters report :
The 46-year-old Morales overwhelmingly beat center-left rival and former first lady Sandra Torres in a run-off vote despite his lack of government experience and some policy ideas that strike many as eccentric.
Eccentric. Politically inexperienced. Doesn’t that remind you of TV realty star Donald Trump? And celebrated surgeon and author Ben Carson?
It seems voters in both America and Guatemala are so fed up with politics as usual that they are opting for the most unlikely candidates in protest.
Could this be the beginning of the end of democracy in the world? After all, it looks as if attempts to introduce democracy in the Middle East have failed wretchedly, doesn’t it?
But just as I was beginning to despair of democracy’s survival, my brother Bill phoned from London, Ontario to read me an article from his local newspaper. The newspaper described how the Native People responded to a right-wing government’s efforts to suppress their vote. It was a heartwarming story.
Among his many conservative excesses, former prime minister Stephen Harper had enacted legislation requiring voters to show official identification. He was obviously copying Republican controlled American legislatures that have been passing laws making it harder to vote in communities that traditionally support the Democratic Party.
Harper’s law made voting especially difficult for Canada’s indigenous people, who were less likely to have the required identification.
But the tactic backfired. Activists responded by organizing voter ID clinics and firing up First Nations voters. The result was a massive turnout in indigenous communities and their election of 10 members of parliament from the opposition Liberal Party.
Indeed, all across Canada, voters turned out in record numbers. They were outraged by Harper’s “conservative” policies, which had assaulted their freedoms and undermined their economy. Harper was swept out of power in a landslide.
And those sober Canadians did not opt for some “eccentric” comedian or TV reality star to replace him. They chose 43-year-old Justin Trudeau, who seems reassuringly level-headed. Bill tells me the new prime minister – the son of legendary Canadian Pierre Trudeau – is surrounding himself with wise and able advisors, and advocating policies designed to restore Canada’s civil rights and prosperity.
Canadians are showing the world that democracy is not a joke. Not as long as the voters keep the faith.