Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Democracy Anyone?

Unrest continues throughout the Arab world today. Yemen, Syria, Bahrain, and Algeria are all dealing with mass demonstrations as we have seen in Tunisia and Egypt. Of course, Libya has ended up in civil war after the demonstrations were attempted to be put down by Gadaffi. Israel is also facing new unrest in Gaza and the West Bank. Do continue to pray that peace and freedom will prevail. However, both peace and freedom come with a cost and with risks.

So, what makes for a good democracy? Here are a few things off the top of my head:

  1. Regular elections. Yes, we kind of hate them when they come too regularly (like here in Canada over the past decade) but, obviously, we need them. The best way to keep our leaders accountable is a free and fair election every so often.
  2. Free press. Often criticized by politicians for being biased, the free press is crucial for letting the regular people know what the politicians are doing. Time and time again, a journalist breaks a story that exposes graft and corruption. Time and time again, too, the politicians try to suppress them in order to keep their jobs. The battle over Wikileaks is a prime example of this. Make no mistake about it: having the "truth" exposed may be uncomfortable at times, but it's crucial. Thankfully, most people have video cameras in their hands now (in their phones) which can, and does, expose abuse on a regular basis!
  3. Strong judiciary. Everybody jokes about lawyers (see the joke below) but, without a well thought out legal system, those who abuse their power may go unchecked. The court doesn't have power to make the rules...but they have the power to enforce the rules (theoretically).
  4. Honest police. In some places in the US, it's illegal to video record the police! That's a very bad sign! The ability to trust that the police have the country's best interest at their core is crucial in building a strong democracy. Most countries trying to become democratic often find the police subverting the people under the direction of corrupt politicians.
  5. People who vote. Yes, if nobody actually votes (or very few do), the whole process becomes moot. If you don't vote, you really shouldn't complain about those who end up running the country!
  6. A constitution. Yes, as boring as it sounds, every country needs a document that outlines the basic rules. And, in my humble opinion, those based on a judeo-Christian foundation are the most fair and stable. The rules have to come from somewhere... might as well get them from the One who made the rules of the universe!

There. Now don't forget to vote!


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