We all have significant decisions to make in life. Whether it is buying a house, car or a yacht or to have children or not and if so when? These are but a few of the life changing options we have to consider.
Now imagine if we were to apply democracy to such decisions where would we end up?
Take buying a new house as an example. We would have to select a authority to make the decision for us and the people who formed that body would by elected by a cross section of people in the local area. Once in place the authority would undertake exhaustive surveys and discard anything that did not involve personal gain to themselves before taking the decision. The costs involved in this process would include, but not be limited to:
Setting up an office
Travel to and from that office
Junkets to other house building areas
Campaigning for re-election
And so on!
These costs would be recovered from the people who elected them. The process would then be debated several times when another house buying authority would be allowed to join in on the basis that they automatically disagree with everything that the first authority had decided. Now obviously this is a totally untenable method and we tend to buy the house by ourselves as we do with the other important decisions in our life.
Why then do we allow democratically elected bodies to decide minor things like whether we should invade another country and kill multiple thousands of people?
When I say democracy I’m referring to the process of selecting the representatives who make these decisions for us regardless of public opinion at the time of the decision.
Every four or five years, dependent on where you live, a crumb is thrown in front of the public in the form of an election. This is a placebo or sugar covered pill that makes the general populace think they are controlling their lives.
I, at 64 years old, have never voted in my life.
Pause for effect!
Yes, I can hear the old hackneyed expression ‘If you’ve never voted you have no right to criticise!’ echoing across the ether. Yes, I do have the right and the naysayers are denying me freedom of speech.
I have never thrown myself off a cliff but would I be wrong to advise against it?
Let me quickly recap on what happens in an election. A glib tongued public speaker offers all sorts of incentives, if you vote for him, in a manner that would make a double glazing salesman blush. You think ‘That sounds okay, I’ll vote for him’ then you hear another one, with a different colour of rosette, say something very similar but decries the first candidate and you become torn between the two. Then you hear another one very similar again and he decries both the previous ones. So eventually you make an informed decision maybe based on the party your Father voted for in his day.
Regardless of the outcome one of them gets elected and if you are a discerning person you watch how they behave only to be horrified that he has back pedalled on all his promises. What do you then? You then decide that you won’t vote for him or her again in four or five years and think that will show him.
How much damage can that person do in the period of his time in office?
He/she will take part in debates and votes on whether or not to commit your troops to fight and die in a foreign country. Did he ask you about that?
Is he better qualified than you to make that decision because the majority of people in his or her constituency have voted on his stand against government spending or over-taxation?
If the question about staying or leaving an economic community was put to a referendum would the general public know enough about the consequences of the decision and the effect on the economy? Probably not but a rag tag mixture of elected members voted in on election promises apparently do.
It is oft said that democracy is not perfect but what is a better alternative? The answer to that is a similar system to the Turkish government. There, if it is considered that a government got into power through election promises, and could be proved that they failed to fulfil those promises, the country has the right to take them to court and have them thrown out. This has happened on several occasions.
The elections will happen shortly in the UK, consider what I have discussed here and watch what happens after the final wrangling over power is settled. Then six months after the election think about what you can, given your democratic right, do about the elected member’s behaviour.