The Vitality of Democracy

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There is no such thing as the perfect society. There are no hard and fast rules on how to make it work for everyone. If we don’t want to have things imposed upon us, then government by the people and for the people is the best system on offer. We call it democracy. We thought that, given a chance, every country would choose to become a liberal democracy. It hasn’t quite worked out like that. There is pushback. No one likes to give up power. Strong leaders seem to offer certainty and stability. Big companies are much more responsive and efficient than governments. We don’t like facing up to difficult choices and prefer to find fault with others rather than examine our own actions. Democracy is about making difficult choices and if we don’t appreciate what makes the system work, we risk losing it. It is like a play that has repeat performances, with the audience having a say over the cast and the plot. Mob rule is bad. Elections are a fight. As no one has all the answers, we allow for power to change hands. Give the other side a chance and see if they can do a better job. In this play, audience participation is compulsory. Democracy is not a spectator sport. Government by the people and for the people requires the people to take part; to choose between competing ideas; to join political parties. To stand up for things that are important. The last five years have been a big challenge. The UK ceased being a member of the European Union. Faced with a deathly pandemic, we’ve accepted restrictions to our civil liberties that were unimaginable before. It is time to pause and reflect. Democracy has always been challenged, but this time it’s more serious. The meaning of democracy is to take part.