Thursday, July 04, 2013

Liberal Democracy

Democracy is not just a form of government but also a way of life for a very large section of the world's population. Democracy was developed as a form of government in ancient Greece and was based on a set of values, principles and ideals. Democracy was meant to be an institution for the people's welfare and not for the welfare of the state or those who run the state. These values and ideas have changed over the centuries and what we have today is democracy in its multifaceted forms. Today we have Liberal Democracy, People's Democracy, Basic Democracy, Guided Democracy and also Christian or Islamic Democracy. The term democracy has been changed and perverted beyond recognition. Democracy was meant to be an ideal form of government in which citizens were considered equal and opportunities for growth were not limited for just a chosen few. Democracy functions as a result of public opinion and it is this aspect of public opinion that makes democracy truly liberal.

In a liberal democracy public opinion forms the centre piece for all functions of the federal and state government. The people in a liberal democracy are the true sovereigns. It is the people who determine who forms the government or who becomes the chief executive of a nation state. But in a large population all cannot form the executive and make decisions and hence this responsibility is delegated to elected representatives. In a liberal democracy these elected representatives are truly answerable to the people. It is this sovereignty of the people that makes a liberal democracy unique. When elected representatives begin to misuse the sovereignty of the people for their personal gain then that is no longer a liberal democracy. In a liberal democracy it is the will of the people that determines policy and the legislature legislates according to this will of the populace. If this were not the case then even dictators could cry out loudly that their dictatorship is a legitimate democracy.

In a liberal democracy like the United States, the representatives are responsible for fulfilling the aspirations of the people. It is through periodic elections that they can be held accountable to the electorate. There are checks and balances in a liberal democracy. Through periodic elections, the right to recall a representative and tabling of a no confidence vote, an elected representative is held to account.

Sadly, however these traits are now missing in the modern-day democracy. This is observed even in the United States. This country was founded on the principles of individual liberty and freedom. The founding fathers of America such as Thomas Jefferson and George Washington desired that the federal government should play as small a role as possible and that individual freedom was above and beyond government control. The government was supposed to be small while individual enterprise was allowed to grow and prosper. This was the message that the framers of the constitution gave to the people of America and all those who were to form the government in times to follow. This is liberal democracy as it was meant to be and desired by the founding fathers. The federal government was not to intervene in all social and economic issues.

Today, in the United States, the concepts epitomized by the founding fathers are taking a back seat. The federal government is no longer a passive player in socio-economic affairs of various states and individuals but is beginning to play a greater role in the everyday lives of Americans. Democrats and Republicans are at logger heads over the role the federal government should play in the spheres of banking and finance. The Obama administration wants to play an ever-increasing role in health care and medi-care. Social security and pension funds are beginning to come under government control and the government net is widening every day. This is against the tenets of a liberal democracy.

Republicans are conservatives but they seem to simply oppose the Barack Obama administration for the sake of opposition. They do not seem to have an agenda that would really make the roots of liberal democracy stronger. The idea of the aspiring Republican presidential candidate, Herman Cain, to introduce the new taxation code 9-9-9 is a joke. It is anti liberal and not in keeping with the principles of a liberal democracy. Under this new taxation code many poor and middle class Americans will end up paying more tax than they are doing so now! Is that how a liberal democracy works?

All over America there are signs that this great nation is no longer a fully functioning liberal democracy. Wall Street is far more important to the present set of politicians than "Main Street". Such non-liberal politicians exist on both sides of the aisle. The concepts of liberal democracy are being trampled on everyday and Americans feel helpless. The recent "Occupy Wall Street" demonstrations are a sign that finally Americans are waking up to this bitter fact.

In a liberal democracy private enterprise is given a free hand but not at the cost of a vast majority of citizens. Private enterprise cannot be given a free reign by imposing stricter government regulations. All over the United States there are signs that small private businesses are on the decline. Why is this happening? This is because the government is beginning to control private enterprise by imposing more taxes, penalties and regulations that simply cannot be met. This should not be happening in a liberal democracy. The government must not exercise so much control in a liberal democracy.

On the other hand take a close hard look at how the American Government handles Wall Street and the "Big Banks". Sometimes one wonders whether the American Government is really in control of America's finances. Or is it the Federal Reserve? The government actually allows the Federal Reserve to behave as a completely independent institution without any government oversight. Has there ever been a complete audit of the Federal Reserve? The fact is that no one really knows who controls the Federal Reserve! The chairman of the Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke, appears to do everything to please the big banks and the fat financiers on Wall Street. He talks of "quantitative easing" and doles out millions of dollars to big banks as bailouts but what about bailing out the common man on the streets of America.

Yes, once in a while he does report to the banking and finance oversight committee but it is merely a sham. It appears as if it is just a put up job! Most Americans do not even know that the Federal Reserve is a private bank and is not the official bank of the American Government. This is incredible! The biggest and most influential bank which carries the name "Federal Reserve" is a private bank! It is merely a tool for some big rich families with hereditary titles to become richer at the cost of the American middle class. This is absurd! Is this the idea of a "Liberal Democracy"? Did the founding fathers have this in mind and was this their idea of a liberal democracy?

For America to become a true liberal democracy, it must go back to the tenets laid down in the "Declaration of Independence". Therein Americans will find how far wrong they have gone. It clearly states that governments are instituted to uphold the inalienable rights of its citizens and that all men are created equal. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all should be the aim of every liberal democracy but the present situation in America is far from this desired goal. For a long while it has appeared that the government has always catered to the needs of the 1% rich Americans while the remaining 99% Americans are left to the mercy of fate. It is time for these remaining 99% to call for change and make sure that a true liberal democracy is established on Capitol Hill.

In about a year, fresh elections will take place and Americans should put aside their differences and ensure that a liberal democracy is put into the white house to ensure the prosperity of all Americans. Irrespective of whether you are a Republican or a Democrat, it is essential that the "Greed of Wall Street" be replaced by the "Need of Main Street". This would be truly representative of a liberal democracy and a new and debt free America. And may God bless America.

By Abhinav GL

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