With election fever and/or disgust gripping much of the population here in T&T I am led to muse on the very nature of democracy and its real value. Like most people I strongly believe in the right of individuals to live their lives as they wish, to have access to healthcare and education and to be afforded some measure of security. In principle democracy is supposed to ensure such things take place but the result is often spotty at best.
The problem, as I see it, is that those seeking public office successfully are the ones best able to hoodwink the public into voting for them and not necessarily the ones best able to run a country. Coupled with the fact most democracies allow a few years in between elections and thus allow their elected officials to run amok for that period and we have a handy explanation as to why so many countries are poorly run. The problem is especially acute in developing nations such as this one.
At the risk of being stoned to death by the great unwashed I must respectfully submit that the vast majority of people are poorly educated, easily manipulated and , often, just plain stupid. To me this is the ultimate downfall of the ideology. In a perfect world where everyone is wise and well-read on matters of economics and social development no doubt democratic elections would result in the best candidate. In a normal society, however, this is quite simply not the case. We end up with imbeciles like G.W.B and I could cite several examples much closer to home. The problem is not that these leaders are of sub-normal intelligence and prone to making stupid decisions it is that the electorate chose them in the first place.
What is the option you ask? I really don’t know. If there was some way of picking an elite “star chamber” representing the best in their individual fields to rule the affairs of state it might produce a better and more cohesive end result…but who would pick them? I have often maintained that benevolent dictatorships are, by their nature, more efficient than democracies. A top-down run country can turn on a dime and respond more quickly to changes in economic needs and social policy. Democracies, requiring politics and consensus are large lumbering beasts. We need only to compare China and The USA to see how this fact plays out in the real world. India, as the world’s largest democracy, is doing quite well by all accounts but I suspect China will reach the finish line of that economic race first.
I suppose, as Churchill said , “It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried”.