Traditional democracy is problematic - we need an update!

If you haven't already done so, I highly recommend a read of the November 2016 article in the New Yorker,  entitled "The case against democracy".

Consider the world today. Roughly a third of American voters think that the Marxist slogan “From each according to his ability to each according to his need” appears in the Constitution. About as many are incapable of naming even one of the three branches of the United States government. Fewer than a quarter know who their senators are, and only half are aware that their state has two of them. 

This from the most powerful economic and military country on the planet. A country now run by a man that denies climate change, molests women and thinks 'Nambia' is a country. He didn't even win a majority in the popular vote. 

On the other hand, there is always the Churchillian quote, "Democracy is the worst form of government ... except for all the others (that have been tried)". Let's not kid ourselves, power corrupts. From the dictatorships in Latin America to Africa and  Asia, the result is always the same. How they got to power varies, and as often as not they got to the top by standing up for the poor and downtrodden. But once there they soon begin to change the rules to get rich, using the armed forces, intimidation and violence to stay in power. 

But is the result much different in the civilized Western nations?  If nothing  else the election of Donald Trump  and Brexit prove that Democracy can be very dangerous. UK, the world's shining light on democratic rule, wants to take back their sovereignty from the EU, and to do this they want to give themselves Henry VIII powers (that is to say government decides and the rest can just "b-gg-r off". If the reader can't see how dangerous this is, then I have a bridge I would like to sell them. I won't even begin to cover such topics of the nondemocratic implications of 'first part the post' (UK) or 'electoral college' of the USA'. 

I am constantly irritated  with those Brexiteers that imply you are against democracy if you want to reverse a decision. They imply it was a homogeneous decision in the UK, one that was reached through complete information, truth and rational thought. The fact that Scotland and Northern Ireland voted against is 'undemocratic'. Be that as it may, the world is ready, no ... more than ready for a new and  better system. It needs to be discussed, at all levels of societies in all nations as far as I am concerned. Here is a version, my version! I call it 'QUALIFIED DEMOCRACY'!

In Western democracies each person qualified by birth and having reached the age of consent, can run for office and vote. Makes sense ... NOT. In theory, every person born has the right to drive a car or lorry, carry out surgery on patients or appear in court on behalf of somebody else. They can even fly an airplane. However, not everybody does, simply because they are unqualified and untrained. The higher the riskiness of the job, the more important the job, the greater the need for training and education. We all know that. 

So what are we saying in politics? Are we saying that the controller of the launch codes to the most powerful  nuclear arsenal in the world is unimportant? Perhaps it is a low risk activity? If President Trump's behavior and rhetoric towards North Korea and now Iran are anything to go by, then 'YES', we don't think that  this kind of control is important. 

Then of course there is the sacrosanct right of the individual in the eyes of the law.  A law that places the burden of proving guilt  on the accuser. A law  that allows/ forces the Judiciary to release a murderer or rapist back on the streets, because some police officer made a mess of the arrest procedure. A law that is compromised by such modifications as that in the USA where there is plea-bargaining, a procedure to shorten the judicial process. 'Three strikes and your out' even for petty crimes: makes it preferable for a previously convicted  criminal to plead guilty to a crime he didn't commit in exchange for a lesser sentence rather than risk being found guilty and going to prison for life. In 2013, America representing 4.4% of the world's population but housed 22% of the world's incarcerated people. So are they any safer in America? Ask that of any one of the 12.000 odd people who are murdered every year! 

But what about society itself? What about the victims of a crime? What, if anything, should be the individual's obligation towards society? We are desperately in need of change, a better system, a fairer and more effective system.

So here are some basic requirements as I see it, I agree with democrats that things like wealth or even education are biased ways of deciding. Everybody should have a chance.  My problem with education is that almost all systems like schools end up with a test and a pass mark, before you are given the qualification. To me the solution is education, starting at a very young age and in every school, but with one difference, no final exam. You can be a Marxist, a religious zealot or a Liberal, all are qualified. But when a person's biases are known it is far more difficult later to lie and cheat to achieve their goals.   

This education should be compulsory and considered as important as mathematics or your native language. Subjects such as the branches of government, political terminology , left and right wing politics, social responsibility and obligations  are all important and should be covered. Even the need for economics and decision making.  The only criterion - compulsory attendance which will be taken and recorded .. oh and you have to stay awake. For what it's worth, the same could be applied to other important social interactions, such as marriage and parenting. How many people go into these kind of relationships not knowing the first thing about the responsibilities and obligations? Is it too much to ask that somebody tells them early in life, while they still have time to think about what they are undertaking.  

If it was up to me I would make voting in an election compulsory. Every time someone stays away from the polling station  (because they are too lazy or think it makes no difference), it makes it easier for extremists to get voted in. Is it really too much to ask of a citizen for a few hours activity on behalf of society itself, every 4-5 years. I would also make every polling form have one more option, a 'no vote' or 'I am unhappy with all these choices'. If there are enough of them perhaps we can force political parties to repeat the election process with other names that the people prefer rather than those favored by the party leaders.  

Then there is the question of how business and politics interact and the bias that wealth has achieved in order to achieve their own ends,  Tax avoidance, tax havens, and millions in the pockets of white collar criminals, all are considered OK. I would look to such legal authorization as freezing the family assets when someone is accused in order to prevent the booty going on a trip or disappearing underground. I would look towards penalizing those that use safety mechanisms such as 'bankruptcy' to cover their own indiscretions or incompetence and certainly would never allow anyone (like Trump) to start new companies and run them after having bankrupted and effectively 'robbed' his suppliers four times.      

One last new idea I floated in my book. In Western democracies, there are basically three independent branches of government, all of which are important and powerful. These are the Legislative (Parliament/ Congress/ Senate), the Executive (Prime Minister/  President)  and the Judiciary (Judges who are not elected or regulated and are there for life - the only requirement, they must implement the laws). But recent events in the UK (like Hillsborough,  and more recently Grenfell Tower blaze) have shown up the weakness of a system where the executors of activities are essentially also responsible for investigating and finding blame for errors and punishing the guilty.

​We need a fourth, independent body. I call it the PREFECTURE, with their own independent budgetary allocations and resources, independent staffing and hierarchy, authorized to investigate, or drop, anything they want, from parliamentary misappropriations  to governmental corruption and incompetence and even Judicial bias.  Staffing should be senior officers and experienced members of all branches, from the police and even legal and medical practitioners. Maybe then the public will begin to have faith in the system they perceive to be corrupt and biased.  

I would also find some way to make political promises have more meaning, and political lies to carry some sort of cost to those who deal in them. That's all for now. Part II coming soon. 

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