“Democracy is a process by which the people are free to choose the man who will get the blame,” said Laurence J Peter, the renowned Canadian management guru who gave the world the Peter Principle: “In a hierarchy every employee tends to rise to the level of their incompetence...”
The essential trouble with democracy is it’s fine as long as your guy wins. In its purest form; free from corruption and the influence of money and power to manipulate the polls, it’s remarkable. Most “losers” accept the result, however grudgingly.
But in which utopian society does such purity actually exist? Mix in the fact that many leaders are elected not only by a minority of the total population but by a minority of those who actually bothered to vote and have somehow formed a coalition and we have a built-in recipe for unrest.
The system survives because it maintains a degree of stability via election by peaceful means and gives the masses a chance to have their say – or at least the impression of doing so. This requires leaders representing differing philosophies to stand, so that we have the semblance of choice.
The trouble – for some – is that many electorates tend to go for the same sort of political philosophy time and time again. It is mostly in those times of extreme stress like economic depression or war that the maverick figure comes to the fore: people like Silvio Berlusconi or Donald Trump on the one hand, or Alexis Tsipras and Jeremy Corbyn on the other.
Berlusconi is no less ridiculous a figure to those that opposed him than Trump is, and yet he served three terms as Italian Prime Minister. And now Corbyn will “get the blame”. In the words of Winston Churchill: “It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.”
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