Democracy on life support

Quartz today had this tidbit about the declining interest in democracy.

It’s a sobering read, especially with the rise of strongman politics.

Analysis is a bit fraught with danger but surely a couple of likely explanations are possible.

Top of the pops surely has to be the failure of democratic governments to actually delivery what most people want. This takes a few forms but primarily the electorate is surely not so blind that they fail to see governments of all persuasion falling captive to minority vested interests. To put it bluntly when democratic governments fail to take on the big end of town or even worse simply get into bed with them, then voting for a party that promises to change that situation becomes an exercise in self deception. It is worth noting here that Trump is busy picking a bunch of cronies who will simply continue the same practices that Trump promised to change, people like billionaire bankers and former execs from Goldman Sachs.

The second but perhaps more insidious explanation is that given the lack of credibility re enacting measures that are beneficial to people as a whole, it becomes harder to sell the virtues of democracy and self realisation for the general population. Imagine this classroom discussion, teacher “democracy is where laws are made to advance the welfare of the majority of people” and student “so why are the rich getting richer and life is getting harder for the rest?”

In other words democracy has rather spectacularly failed to deliver in recent times.

Finally, the alternatives don’t seem too bad and our collective memory is failing to remember the historical struggle to overturn tyranny and oppression. The freedom to publicly express a healthy doubt about the government of the day and even a limited ability to hold power to some sort of account through a free press are not to be taken for granted. They are fundamental to keeping would be tyrants at bay. The world will be a much more hostile place if those things are lost.


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