Does Democracy Suck?

Let us start with the obvious: you cannot expect a person to make an informed vote if that person has no access to truthful information. It’s not just computers that suffer from “garbage in, garbage out.” Democracy is not right for a people who don’t have access to the truth. 

Time Magazine CoverDemocracy requires an independent, truth-driven press to contain the instincts of man. Governments that manipulate the press do so in order to promulgate lies to benefit those at the top.

Years ago there were three television networks in the US. Three evening newscast anchored by serious, respected journalists. These white men always tried to tell both sides of every story. To this day, I cannot tell you if Peter Jennings was a Republican or a Democrat. Both sides of every story were presented and explored in an impartial manner. Walter Cronkite was the most trusted man in America… literally. Not Santa, not the Pope; Walter Cronkite.

Ideas were serious. William F. Buckley was an intellect not to be dismissed. Ronald Regan was thoughtful and his words carried weight. Agree with them or not, they deserved and received respect.

No more; Buckley’s ideas have been replaced by Laura Ingram’s smears and Regan’s moral compass with Trump’s childish Twitter name-calling. Thoughtful conversation has devolved into histrionics shouted by the angry. It’s not several hundred illegal immigrant families, it’s an invasion! Our way of life is under attack and the military must be deployed!

What little is left of the once respected Press is now corralled into pens in the middle of full stadiums to be publicly mocked by The President of The United States of America. Crowds cheer as they repeat insults hurled from the podium. Children are taught that foul language and coarse behaviour are acceptable forms of civil discourse. They sit on their Father’s shoulders and drink the spectacle.

When I was a child, I was taught that America was a Representative Democracy. That you voted for some fellow who would go to Washington and represent you. That has changed; now the far right wing of the Republican Party wants you to be clear that the United States is not a democracy at all. It’s a Republic, you know, like North Korea.

If you take a moment and look up the word republic, (I did), you will find it is basically any form of government that is not a Monarchy. In other words, most governments worldwide are Republics today. It is fascinating: Why are Trumpists telling the rest of us that we do not live in a Democracy? What has changed?

Now that Moscow Mitch has driven his Clown Car through what was supposed to be a serious Impeachment debate, we learn that a President cannot be impeached unless he is guilty of an actual crime. The Nations chief law enforcement officer, William Barr, wants you to know that a sitting President cannot be charged with, or even investigated for any crime. Period.

So to review: 

  1. You cannot be investigated for a crime if you are President
  2. You cannot be Impeached unless you are guilty of a crime 
  3. The serious press has been discredited
  4. The US is not a democracyPhotograph of Dean Lewis

Why does democracy suck? America has only one last chance in the upcoming election to answer that question. After that, it’s not our problem anymore.


Does democracy suck?

As a fan of benign dictatorships, my tendency is to say probably yes, democracy nowadays does not compare too well.

Like another well-minded fellow once said, democracy is pretty much flawed because the people elected are not necessarily capable of leading their nation successfully, but, far more importantly, they are the very best at getting people to like them. (It was actually Plato, who was quite good at this sort of thing, who mentioned this a long time before Boris, Brexit and Trump.)

PM Teresa MaySo they get into power, because you, the people, have enabled it, and then they steadfastly ignore you for eternity. They will tell you anything whilst canvassing, and usually everything you want to hear. When you fall for the lies and deceit, the trouble starts.

Democracy sucks because it can’t really operate successfully. For a start, those in power have only one goal in mind. To get re-elected in a few year’s time. Period. Nothing else matters. Even if they do decide on a wonderful potential piece of legislation, its’s so hard to get anything done. You have to convince parliament, then there are the people who will be affected, the environmental lobbyists, the endless public enquiries, and religious groups, all with differing opinions.

Look at undemocratic China. They’ve just built a hospital in 14 days, because they felt they had to. They build airports, roads, railways and bridges, using more concrete than any other place, while in good old Britain, because a species of rare butterfly lives close to a potential development, and the dear locals don’t want anything build near their back yard, it doesn’t happen easily. In (Old) Jersey, where I spent the majority of my working career, the “democratic” government there have taken a whole decade to decide where to put their new hospital. They still cannot decide. There is no definitive party system there, but instead, they have over 40 independent politicians. So, before anything gets done, each politician has to convince over 40 other people that they are right. That’s why it doesn’t work. But it’s democratic.

Democracy is supposed to supply a state based on welfare for all. The rule of law, which of course is usually based on ethics, tends to get eroded, while legislation, decided on by the politicians, takes over. The state will do all they can to make their people utterly dependent on their decisions, and give them incentives to improve that welfare. People now tend to look not so much at the future, but concentrate on the present. They get present-day incentives, which paradoxically de-incentivises them from worrying about the future. When that future doesn’t pan out to their liking, they get angry, start squabbling with each other, start hating, fill social media with absolute crap, and all because their democracy isn’t working. 

Not that the government of the day will accept any blame. You voted for them, you get the government you deserve. Let’s also not forget that all governments will try to deflect blame, and attempt to control the press. It’s even happening with the Tory twats, in good old democratic Britain, Roger Barawho are now deciding themselves which journalists they want to attend their briefings. 

So, as I’ve written before in these little missives, give me a dose of Ataturk-type benign dictatorships. Much better all round. You know where you stand.



Does democracy suck? 

This is a very good question for those who live in a democracy: if you have it you may discuss how good is it. To what level it is effective, etc.

So I’ll give you my Russian perspective. 

In my case, we basically don’t have it in Russia. We’ve made big progress in Gorbachev and Yeltsin times but then you know what happened… now it is ground zero here.  

To me democracy is not just a fair election process. This is about the state being efficient: at least, more efficient than other models. This is proved by history. Low corruption. Effective free press. Effective housing and utility services. When you don’t like your city manager or government you just change it. It’s all about mutual controls, checks and balances: the authorities and the citizens. When it is only the authority that controls the state, it’s called dictatorship; it could be softer, like now in Russia, or harder, like in China. Otherwise, when there’s no authority at all, it is called anarchy. Pretty bad, too.

This is something that we don’t have here in Russia now. When the system is not working you change some of its elements until it gets better. Otherwise it would finally crack down, to the big surprise of its owners, just what happened with the Soviet Union. And the Russian state is in bad shape now. The economy is stumbling somewhere between zero and 1 per cent growth for 10 years already. Real household incomes have been decreasing for 6 years in a row. Corruption is not a crime. It is a key element of the system; for Putin it is easier to control this way. Prices for everything go up. Nothing happens in the Kremlin; Vlad still rules. Is he effective? I doubt it judging by the stats. 

What does he do to distract attention? You know his basics; the Crimean adventure in 2014 with an effort to invade all of the Ukraine (nice try). The sneaky West against Mother-Russia; so don’t whine about freedoms and the economy, we’ve to defend the Motherland. Now we’re going to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the WW2 victory with such a scale like it just ended yesterday… as if Putin himself is stepping into Berlin, killing Hitler with his sword… Shame.

In the meantime, the incomes are still getting lower each year. Instead we discuss things that happened 75 years go. Let’s talk about the 1812 Patriotic war with the Napoleonic France, too. So many glorious moments, too. So much patriotism exposed then, too…Our Rusuk Blog writer Sergey

Does democracy suck? 

No, it doesn’t. It’s got its’s drawbacks, sure. But it sucks when there’s no democracy. I mean it.