Democracy is broke. Here’s how to fix it

Barb Wire

Carolyn Moynihan, the deputy editor of MercatorNet, does a little big picture diagnosis on the little thing called ‘democracy’ and her prescription reads similar to what America’s Founding Fathers had to say when they established this Republic. Her is how she opens her article:

Democracy is going through a difficult time, and not only in places where it is a relatively recent development — in Africa, for example — but in its heartland, the United States and Western Europe. In recent years New York has had its Occupy Wall Street movement, London its hooligan riots, Madrid its furious protests by the young unemployed, Paris its huge “demonstrations for all” against new marriage laws. Liberal governments installed by free and fair elections in some countries are mistrusted by a majority of citizens, and populist (right-wing) parties are on the rise again.

Are the protestors in Kiev barking up the wrong tree? Sacrificing their lives for a system that is spent, and unable to deliver on its promise of liberty, equality and fraternity? Was Winston Churchill wrong in propagating the view that democracy would be the worst form of government except for all the rest?

Moynihan asks, “What is stirring these discontents?” She then cites an article in The Economist magazine as identifying three main factors:

  • Globalisation.
  • Separatists and micro-powers.
  • A pampered electorate.

Moynihan outlines more from the Economist article but then says, “there are some big things missing from this picture.”

The first is virtue. Self-government does not begin at the ballot box, even if the ballot is citizen initiated and accessible via the internet. It begins with people who know how to govern themselves — to obey their conscience, to delay gratification, to do the good that is difficult — and this is precisely what has been undermined in democracies where the state has grown by the political process of buying power with ever-extending handouts and entitlements.

In short order she mentions a second item:

The second thing missing from The Economist’s prescription for sick democracies is the institutions that come between the individual and the state: the family and civil society.

It is in the family that the individual learns the virtues basic to a democratic society: in addition to those already mentioned, responsibility, justice and respect for the freedom of others. But this can only happen in a family that has not had its authority snatched away by an intrusive state and its favourite experts.

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