In our society, democracy is a universally positive concept. Many people use it synonymously with freedom. It is a common believe that tyranny and democracy do not go together. Remarkably, this positive image can prevail, despite the fact that most people are ready to admit that there is a lot that is going wrong in politics.
The main reason that people seem to continue to promote democracy is that they cannot possible imagine a better alternative to the system. But why do we so readily accept the popular claim that democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others? After all it has brought about some truly bad results. The Nazis, one of the most criminal regimes in human history, came to power in a democratic system. And right now, we have a number of truly ugly governments in power, who have the blessing of the voters, from Erdogan in Turkey to Putin in Russia, Orbán in Hungary and Duda in Poland, to name just the most obvious. All these governments won in fair elections.
And then of course there is the current election in the US. As I am writing this, it is not clear who is going to win this election circus, Hilary Clinton or Donald Trump. Whoever it may be, democracy will have won in the end. Whoever it may be will have come to power with the blessings of the voters.
And that is saying a lot about democracy. As before every election, we get the usual ‘this time is the most important election ever’ mantra. I have never bought into that, but I have to say, even to me this time seems a bit different. The wisdom of the crowds has narrowed the realistic choices for the oval office down to two candidates, who are so awful that even their supporters often cannot praise them with a straight face. In fact, this election, the vast majority of people seems to vote mainly against the other candidate rather than for someone.
I was surprised to see that even a libertarian like Penn Jillette came out openly saying that he is going to vote for Hilary Clinton, a candidate that he admits he has no agreements with. His vote for Clinton is purely a desperate attempt to keep Trump out of the White House. And I cannot even blame him for his reasoning.
This absurd situation is fundamentally the result of a democratic system at work. No one can seriously say that there is something undemocratic about the awful and dangerous situation that the people in America find themselves in. And yet, I hardly hear anyone seriously questioning the legitimacy of this evil charade.
That is remarkable, since it does not seem difficult to imagine a better alternative. What about liberty? What about just accepting the idea that people have unalienable rights to their life, liberty and property? What more do we need to organise a very attractive society for everyone? There is no need for a government to constantly change the law. All we need is a legal system that enforces these rights. All the details of life that need sorting out can be better arranged by free contracts between the people directly involved in the decisions, rather than a one size fits all top down government.
But no, unfortunately, liberty is not an option for most people. Or worse, they are so confused that they think democracy is liberty. They rather think that this absurd situation, of having the choice between Trump and Hilary, having Erdogan, Putin, Orbán or Duda telling them what to do with their lives, is the absolute best they can do. That is sad, but I don’t see this changing soon. That means unfortunately, as ever in fair elections, democracy will win and the people are fucked.