Democracy -Democrats and Republicans
A popular assumption is that democracy is good and everyone should have one.
The reality is quite different. Athens Greece is often given credit for inventing democracy. But in Athens
only one in 10 residents could vote. Women could not participate and slaves had
no rights. Those who did vote were often tempted to vote in favor of war. Athens
flourished for a few years but the Greek empire and Athenian democracy was over
within 150 years. While the Greek legacy was carried on by the Romans and spread
through Europe, the real story of ancient Greece is tragic, not heroic.
Elections are often thought to be the essence of democracy, but as human groups
grow larger and social organization more complex, the ideal of citizen
controlled government becomes impossible. The Economist Intelligence Unit
assessed the kind and quality of governments in 167 countries during 2008. Only
30 countries had full democracies, representing 14.4% of the world population.
The Economist's 2010 report stated that:" The dominant pattern in all regions
over the past two years has been backsliding on previously attained progress in
democratization. The global financial crisis that started in 2008 accentuated
existing negative trends in political development."World problem progressed in
2011. The Economist prefaced their analysis: “2011 was an exceptionally
turbulent year politically, characterized by sovereign debt crises, weak
leadership in the developed world, dramatic change and conflict in the Middle
East and North Africa and rising social unrest throughout much of the world.” By
December 2011, 25 countries full democracies; 53 countries were flawed
democracies; 52 were authoritarian and 37 were hybrid regimes.
to the 2016 Democracy Index almost one-half of the world’s countries can be
considered to be democracies of some sort, but the number of “full democracies”
has declined from 20 in 2015 to 19 in 2016. The US has been downgraded from a
“full democracy” to a “flawed democracy” because of a further erosion of trust
in government and elected officials there. The "democratic recession" worsened
in 2016, when no region experienced an improvement in its average score and
almost twice as many countries recorded a decline in their total score as
recorded an improvement . Eastern Europe experienced the most severe regression.
The 2016 Democracy Index report, Revenge of the "deplorables", examines the deep
roots of today's crisis of democracy in the developed world, and looks at how
democracy fared in every region.(Economist Intelligence Unit. Democracy
Index 2016. Accessed Online Jan 2017)
Politics in modern democracies have revealed basic human tendencies that
require deep understanding. Some questions are: Why are their democrats and
republicans, liberals and conservatives? Why doesn’t everyone have the same
preference and come to the same conclusions, given most of the facts? Why isn't
The conventional view of political opinion recognizes a spread of political
preference using the metaphor left to right. The moderate left is equated with
liberal and socialist and the moderate right is equated with “free-enterprise”
and conservative. Liberal-Socialist describes a tendency to share and
conservative expresses a tendency to self-serving policies and hoarding. The
extreme left is considered to be communism and the extreme right is fascism. In
practice, communism and fascism tend toward the same place – dictatorships. In
Britain, Canada and the USA, right and left political parties dominated
political contests and have tended toward the center as time has past. In
Canada, the New Democratic Party (NDP) and a Quebec separatist party offered
options. Although NDP parties elected governments in a few Canadian provinces
they were never able to beat the conservative and liberal parties in federal
Each political party has members who are right or left, but
moderates prevail, as they should. The extremes are populated by authoritarian
humans who tend to use intimidation, coercion and punishment to achieve
domination. They want to become dictators if they achieve political power.
Moderates tend to be more conciliatory and will use the threat of force but
avoid combat unless attacked. This tendency toward the center represents,
hopefully, an evolution in political processes. In Canada, the federal
Conservative Party was obliterated after forming an unpopular government,
leaving the country with a choice of a Liberal Government or voting for one of
the minority parties. This would be equivalent to the Republican party in the US
being reduced to a few seats in the Senate. After many years, an unstable
coalition of more right wing parties revived a conservative party.
Clearly, traditional political polarization is unstable and new approaches to
democratic government are desirable and may be possible. In the both the USA and
Canada reform parties have emerged to offer and alternative to a dichotic
political choice and "reform" refers to almost any point of view that does not
fit comfortably in the neatly divided liberal-conservative camps. The main
arguments between the left-socialist and right-conservative are about the
distribution of resources, the use of force and the regulation of individual
activity. The dialectic can be traced back to root group dynamics and the
ever-changing balance between self-interest and group interest, between
belligerence and peaceful negotiation. In the USA in 2004, similar
differences were described as “cultural” and political rivalry was renamed
Primate groups all tend toward the center, but food scarcity and threats from
the outside are stresses that disturb the status quo. There is a mixture of
group and individual mandates and a healthy primate group is flexible,
rearranging priorities and ideology as circumstances demand. Groups are larger
and more egalitarian when resources are abundant. Larger groups divide into
smaller groups and become edgy and competitive when resources are scarce. Groups
always compete with one another, but temporary truces and coalitions keep the
peace most of the time.
Political theories, especially the revolutionary ones have always been wrong.
Marx was a smart man trying to solve the problems of poor workers oppressed by
authoritarian, industrial leaders and governments. But the application of
Marxism in Russia was ignorant of human nature. His theories were untested and
arbitrary. We now know what happens when you violently overthrow an unjust but
working system and replace it with an ideology that intends to redistribute
wealth and make everyone equal. You get a political and economic system that
does not work and you get tyranny, cruelty and poverty. Humans have innate
tendencies that will not change.
Any political-economic theory that proposes to fundamentally change the way
humans operate will fail. The only lasting way to change political and economic
systems is to allow them to become more congruent with human nature. Successful
political systems must work with and not oppose human nature to become stable
over a long-term measured in thousands of years and not four-year terms of
office. Stability will require a high degree of autonomy for local groups and
tolerance for diversity among these groups. Meaningful political changes emerge
slowly and are built from the bottom up rather than imposed from the top down.
Citizens of the 21st century can be quite sure that top-down solutions will not
work and the tendency toward centralized political and economic control will
need to be modified or abandoned.
Each citizen of a democracy does have a responsibility to protect his or her freedom and right to life by insisting on
bottom-up solutions to problems. This means that the local community decides
what is in its best interests; not a distant and autocratic authority.