Monday, June 27, 2016

Political Lemmings

In the recent “Brexit” referendum, Scotland had a majority vote to remain in the European union.  However, because Scotland is a part of Great Britain, it must participate in the exit.  That does not seem fair.  Perhaps Scotland should be allowed to secede from Great Britain in order to remain in the European Union.

Scotland’s situation is similar to what American voters are facing in the upcoming presidential election.  No matter what the outcome, a significant percentage of them will have a president for whom they did not vote.  It has been this way for the last several election cycles.  The United States is politically divided into two opposing ideologies.  Every election year, a slightly larger majority inflicts its will on a slightly smaller minority.  That is one of the consequences of a democracy – it can devolve into a de facto dictatorship.

However, this would not happen if majority party saw their victory as a responsibility to protect the interests of the minority.  This is the unwritten social compact of a well functioning democracy – that the rights of the minority, however small, are upheld to the same degree as that of the majority.  Furthermore, all of the privileges enjoyed by the majority are extended to the minority.

But in this, and in previous presidential elections, there is little evidence of the social compact being upheld.  Instead, those of the majority act as if their victory is a mandate to promote their own agenda, with little or no consideration to those of the minority.  People now rally around a candidate because they think he or she will give them what they want, with little regard to anyone else.  If they are the winners, they view the minority as the losers.  And, like Scotland, the losers are expected to accept defeat with good grace and get over it.  They lost and, like lemmings, they are all expected to leap off the cliff, whether or not it’s in their best interest.

So my question is this:  How may we ensure the social compact is honored whenever people in a democracy exercise their right to vote?

No comments:

Post a Comment