George Graham

This is Democracy?

Midterm Election Results

 

Can democracy survive? Silly question, you say. Of course democracy will survive. It may have its faults but, as Winston Churchill is supposed to have said, “democ­racy is the worst form of gov­ern­ment, except for all the oth­ers.”

That’s what we all learned in school, but is it still true?

In centuries past, some form of democracy was practiced in ancient Greece and other places like the Scottish Highlands, but the citizenship of Athens and the clans in Scotland consisted of relatively few people. In a country like the United States of America, the population is in the hundreds of millions. In China, you’re looking at a billion and a half people.

China has never even flirted with democracy, and President Xi Jinping will politely brush off the obligatory lecture on human rights he is sure to receive from America’s visiting president.

The way I see it, American democracy is alive in name only. When just a third of the electorate turns out, as was the case in the recent midterm elections, you cannot fairly say “the people have spoken.”

“The people” stayed home.

And the lowest turnout in 70 years has put a rabid minority in power in the world’s leading “democracy.”

In some countries, the elite rely on military force as their means of wielding power. In America today, they rely on propaganda and guile. And with the nation’s wealth accumulating ever more rapidly at the top of the pyramid,  the elite have more than enough money to make the system work.

It’s a system that targets an activist base, fomenting passionate and unthinking partisanship – even hatred – among “believers.” At the same time, it breeds a kind of weary cynicism among the larger electorate, robbing those voters of the will to turn out.

How, you ask, can this happen in a nation with a free press? But the free press lingers only on the fringes of American society.

The corporate owned media have become profit-making conduits that spit out whatever gets poured into them. And what gets poured into them is mostly propaganda prepared by public relations and advertising pros.

The “news” is carefully managed. Have you noticed, for example, how the hysteria over Ebola magically subsided as soon as the elections were over?

No, democracy is not working in America today. With voter suppression laws, gerrymandered districts, a rigged Supreme Court and a flawed judicial system – as well as corruption at all levels of society – elections are blatantly being bought.

Where in the world is democracy working?

Not in Iraq, where Americans invested billions in overturning a despot. Not in Libya. Not in Egypt. Not in Afghanistan….

I wish I knew what the answer is. I fear the world is ripe for a “new order.” Let’s pray it won’t be an Islamic State or something equally as horrifying.

Click for more on the 2014 turnout.

About the author

gwgraeme

I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for Jamaicans.com