How much democracy?

One question with a thousand answers –

How much democracy? what form does it take, and who is involved invites a deceptively simple answer from the founding fathers of Greece.  Plato said, “Democracy is a charming form of government, full of variety and disorder, and dispensing a sort of equality to equals and unequal alike”.  It also invites totally confusing answers from the psephologists who, from our TV screens at 3am were desperate to explain the youth vote, the effect of the rust-belt and remain-revenge, which did sound like a nasty dose of European tummy!

How much democracy? Did famous Brenda who blurted out “Not another one!” actually voice the suspicion of those eager for no more re-runs of independence votes and Euro-referendums.

How much democracy? There is a massive cost. We paid the price in the recent terrorist attacks, by those determined to threaten, undermine and destroy our freedoms, our sense of community cohesion, and responsibility of citizenship by their acts of violence and the threat of violence. We must be prepared to defend our democracy, pay the cost for our safety, and show the destroyers that we are our brother’s keeper.

How much democracy? Here is the value we place on democracy – too precious to let go. What an amazing symbol of hope this week’s election was, as so many candidates stood, and millions more voted, many for the first time and many young and hopeful. Like all systems of democracy, ours is flawed, but still here is the opportunity to kick out governments or at least give them a bloody nose, to remind them of the will of the people and temper their excess.

How much democracy! More a statement than a question. Someone this election, passionate to help the homeless, criticised a political party for not listening to the argument, to the statistics, even to the cries of the poor. At the same time I heard a journalist say that it may be only the Church that is the voice of those without voice. One powerful way is for the Church, not to whisper, but to roar through the ballot box its voice of transformative justice.  As political parties lick their wounds, and learn lessons from the electorate, I pray we will find a politics that has democracy at its heart, “the rule of the people” shaping our hopes into policies, respecting the opposition and listening to the diversity of all voices.  Let democracy be the mother of freedom and responsibility, equality and opportunity for all.

Kevin Watson

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