H: Hey Celine, you want to know a radical thought I have been fostering last couple of weeks?
C: I know you won’t leave me, even if I say no. So please proceed
H: Why not we do away with elections from our democracy?
C: What? Aren’t elections basic criteria to consider having a functioning democracy?
H: Maybe. But elections are total bollocks. People are forced to go through a process, just for the heck of it. Beyond the ridiculousness, inherent to its very nature, the elections are totally useless. By the way I don’t want to talk about those way too many elections, built into the system.
C: Are you for real? I believe you will be okay with a Democratic Government that proposes to have only one election across the nation?
H: I am for real. Also, I will go even one step further and say that elections can be abolished.
C: I really cannot understand this attitude among the elitists in the society
H: Aren’t you an elitist yourself?
C: Yes I am an elitist. But I am not stupid. I understand why elections are needed & I support for more elections.
H: So you mean More elections mean More democracy?
C: I never said that. But elections are a way to ensure that there is a space for democracy.
H: Pl enlighten me on why more elections are good
C: What I am going to say may not be applicable to you. Since you have very little day to day interaction with any governmental agencies, you may not understand, but there are millions of people who need the government’s assistance.
H: Did I say we need to do away with Governments? I simply said, do away with elections & let one government be responsible towards its citizens
C: How do you hold this government accountable? Do you have any ideas?
H: Well that’s a good question. May be we could form a citizens’ commission, which can oversee the working of the government
C: Who will be part of the citizen’s commission? Also, even if we could form one, do you think the government will listen to this commission’s remarks? What if the government is not willing to listen to others?
H: I know where you’re getting at. Without elections you say the government cannot be held accountable. I reluctantly agree to this point, still why we need more elections? One at local level, one at state level, one at national level & all conducted at different times. Why not have one election, where we can vote all at once and do away with this mundane exercise?
C: Well, I am baffled that I need to explain something as simple as this to you. Any country be it large or small, cannot be run from one centralized power center. Will the Politician or government official sitting thousands of kilometers away know what concerns your neighborhood, city or state?
H: Of course the person won’t know. But that doesn’t mean we need to have elected representatives to hear our local issues
C: Then who would you have? How would the person be held accountable? And how they would have powers to implement schemes?
H: So you mean to say that we need to have elected officials so they could have power.
C: Not just powers, but they could be held accountable. Elections are the primary way of holding government officials accountable. Another advantage of having multiple elections is that, more often than not, the same parties that contest elections on state level will be contesting on local level and at times on national level. When the elections are held at different times, people have the opportunity to register their discontent with the government (be it Federal or state) and elect a new party. This benefits both the electorate , i.e. people & also the government. Government can course correct its actions. If we do away with these multiple elections, then government has no way to know what works for the people and what doesn’t (I am not sanctifying the government in anyway), if it cares to course correct. If it doesn’t and there are elections, it can be removed and a new government could be elected.
H: There are too many ifs. First the government must be open to acknowledge its deficiencies, then there must be free & fair elections – you might know that there were lot of authoritarian regimes which did conduct elections just for the sake, then most important of all citizens caring about politics. In this day of highly individualized lives, thanks to capitalism, will the citizens be worried about larger cause?
C: I agree. These are some challenges to the existing system. It’s one thing to point out the issues with a system, but it’s altogether a different issue to do away with the system. Don’t you think it sets dangerous precedent? i.e. whenever something doesn’t function as expected , we throw it away, instead of rectifying the flaws?
H: I agree. We need to correct. But who is going to make the efforts? Also, we have come a long way from Monarch/feudal rule till now, but we still follow democracy which is a late 19th century idea
C: Let me explain that in 2 parts. One, it’s the duty of citizens to take actions & force the government to change. Do you think Democracy means elections? No, elections are just one cog in the wheel of democracy. It’s the informed public who keeps democracy thriving. It’s possible that not all citizens care about democracy. Some will be happy to do away with democracy (I presume you will be one among them). Because to be free & responsible are greatest condemnations bestowed on Human beings (I am quoting Sartre if you’re interested). Another issue is that the economic system, which we have currently, ensures that citizens are not thinking about common cause. The atomized society is good for governments & to the economic system. Even with all these flaws, Democracy is mechanism that we have today to strive towards a Free & Fair society. About your question on why we need to still follow democracy, until there is a better system to replace it, Democracy is the only viable option
H: Haven’t you heard of some countries running an effective government without elections? Their people seem to be okay with it
C: Yes people seem to be okay because their living standards are good. Again the economic system is a major factor here. But do you think all citizens are happy with their government? Is there a space for these citizens to register their dissent?
H: May be not. Let’s not take that country as an example, but haven’t you heard of some systems such as sortitions, which suggest to do away with elections and instead go for citizens run governments?
C: I have heard of it, but I do have some questions about that. May be we can discuss it some other time, as this has been a tiring conversation
H: In the end, you just conveyed what you have read on need for elections to have a functioning democracy without having thought critically about it.
C: If I were to explain all my thoughts then you would lose your patients so will the readers of this absurdist blog.
H: Oh no, pl do don’t go there about absurdity. Sorry that I shared with you my radical thoughts 🙂