Are We Failing Democracy or is Democracy Failing us?

We live in tumultuous times. The re-emerging of right-wing nationalist ideologies, rising sentiments of white supremacy and an almost revolutionary smell in the air. Western Democracies around the world experience a shakeup. An increasing neglect of progressive values, replaced by nationalist patriotism by the rise of a new right. Fueled by the rejection of the elites in power, the “simple” voter seems to rebel against the status quo from both the left and right. That begs the question – Are we failing Democracy or is Democracy failing us?

Politics are a matter of self-motivation. Democracy itself is based on a few basic principles.

  • People are informed and therefore possess certain political preferences and views
  • Citizens chose a party that best represents them personally based on those informed decisions
  • They vote accordingly

If we were living in a fairytale, that would mean nobody would ever be upset about politicians. Because we, the voters, are fully informed while also recognizing our most immediate needs and would vote for the best representatives. Which, in turn, would act on their best intentions to represent us accurately. Unfortunately, the world isn’t perfect and far from a fairytale. And while we won’t talk about the corruptive minds of our politicians, although that is at least one half of the problem, we will take a good hard look at ourselves to determine if Democracy is indeed failing us. And, more importantly, if we are to blame.

We are Uninformed and Brainwashed

Technology is our lord and savior. It’s become a second religion for us, but it isn’t all great. While tools like the internet, theoretically, possess an unlimited potential to get informed, most of us get brainwashed instead. We are willingly engulfing ourselves in fake news on social media, which we obviously share, continuously spinning the wheel of polarization. To break the cycle of one-sided information exchange we have to take active precautions and motivate ourselves to challenge our views. Don’t agree with something? Read it anyway, you can’t make an informed decision by only looking at your side of the issue. That’s not how arguments and politics work. Don’t make it simple and convenient, work for your opinion.

If we don’t, and let’s be honest most of us do not, we are failing to fulfill our democratic duty. Democracy isn’t failing us, we are failing Democracy. We are easily deceived, confusing our preferred ideology with what is actually best for us. It’s nice that your family has been voting conservative for centuries, but as a soon retiring coal miner, healthcare might be a more pressing issue, or a better pension and benefits. Your personal opinion and your personal needs can often differ. Recognizing this and voting against your general orientation is possible and encouraged in order to avoid frustrations.

You can’t be all disappointed when all coal miners get laid off because (SURPRISE) against the promises, the coal industry is dying and now you’re unemployed with miserable benefits while they are building a wall to hold off Mexicans instead.

We Aren’t Politicians. Period.

Everyone can be as politically engaged as he or she likes, but we are no politicians. That isn’t our job, our job is to vote the right people into place that do that job in accordance with our needs. What we often tend to forget is that we DON’T have to vote for a certain party or politician because we believe it’s the best for the whole country, we have to vote for them because they represent our personal requirements and needs. Unfortunately, what you think is best for the country isn’t always best for you individually.

The rising nationalist and patriotic sentiment are equal to national selfishness. However, we aren’t selfish enough in the sense that we try to fix a whole country with our votes, instead of fixing the country for ourselves by voting for our own selfish needs. This would fix many things. It would probably also reduce the amount of right-wing and left-wing parties popping up like weeds everywhere. Most countries voters, on average, reside in the center with the extremes to the left and right canceling themselves out. Even in the USA, the average voter resides just left of the Conservative Party, even though still slightly right of center.

We are Failing Democracy

Our Democracy is fine, we just use it wrong. We are baited by easy slogans, not selfish enough and not motivated enough to get to the real truth. How can we complain about not feeling represented, cursing the elites to hell when we fail at even the most basic thing: voting.

About Andreas Salmen

Born and raised in Germany, learned a job in IT and Business and ultimately decided that this wasn't exactly where my life was going to end. Left everything behind to become a writing backpacker instead. The world's crumbling away anyway so why not write about it and get a few good Instagram pics on the way, am I right?

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