DEMOCRACY IN CRISIS
By Swami Dr Snehananda Jyoti on 27-10-2016
Abraham Lincoln, a great president of the United States of America, who successfully steered America during the very difficult civil war in the 19th century defined democracy very well as the “Government of the people, by the people, for the people”. It is the best form of government as the elected representatives chosen for a fixed term and responsible only to the people who elected them. While political freedom is of paramount importance, economic freedom, and other freedoms related to fundamental human rights such as equality, justice, freedom of speech and religions are essential for any democracy to thrive. Democracy is very weak where bribes, corruption and nepotism flourish. Especially in the modern times, democracy has been considerably weakened by wealthy donors, multinational corporations, and lobbyists representing vested interests to influence the outcome of elections. Infusion of enormous wealth, often unaccounted for, to influence elections has been of great concern. Great scandals involving unethical, immoral, and even criminal activities on the part of elected representatives who are supposed to model human values, cultural norms, courtesy, and civilized behaviors for ordinary citizens have inflicted in modern times severe wounds on democracy, and affected general morale negatively.Democracy is best known for the smooth, orderly, and peaceful transition of power from one government to another. The best democratic traditions and conventions call for the loser to accept defeat with grace and acknowledge and accept the legitimately elected winner as the leader of the whole nation. By publicly not accepting this wholesome and healthy convention recently by one of the two presidential contenders in the impending U. S. presidential election, for instance, has caused great concern in a democracy that is widely considered to be a model for the entire world. The American Civil War, the bloodiest battle in US history involving the deaths of about 750,000 soldiers that started in 1861 had its origin in the forming of the Confederate States with the intention of seceding from the US after the election of Abraham Lincoln as the President. So the repeated statements of the Republican contender about a rigged electoral system without any credible evidence is very troublesome. Interestingly he is going against his own party leaders to cause doubts in the minds of ordinary people. To make democracy safe and secure, every person taking part in elections needs to be aware of the necessity of democracy for human dignity. Civic education to develop an enlightened electorate needs to be part of any basic educational system. Candidates need to be screened for ethical and professional behaviors related to electoral process and civil discourse. Victory in election should not depend on the amount of money raised in election campaign. For that reason, campaigns, that acquaint the public with salient features of the candidates, need to be based on policies and facts, and must be financed by public funds in order to provide equal opportunities for all.
About The Author
Dr. John K Thekkedam (Swami Snehananda Jyoti) spent most of his life as a clinical psychologist in USA. He began his public life as a Jesuit priest. Quite attracted in distinct philosophies, he left the society and founded 'East West Awakening'.