Friday, November 20, 2009

And ye shall hear of protests, and rumours of protests...

This Saturday sees the "March for Democracy" in Queen Street.

New Zealand has a functioning democracy. It's just been rated the least corrupt country in the world, nudging Denmark into second place. But mere democracy will never be enough for some people. The MfD, while denying that it's a single-issue pressure group, is basically concerned with repealing the "anti-smacking" law.

If only they had the honesty to admit that, I'd have no problem with them. But instead they have to make it an issue of "democracy". Seriously, grow up already.

Unfortunately, I'll be disturbingly close to the MfD idiots tomorrow. We're off to Waiheke to celebrate our wedding anniversary, and that means getting a lot closer to Queen Street than I'd like, when those unsavoury types are loose. If anyone takes me for a marcher, I'll be really very upset indeed...

In disturbingly related news, I read today that a majority of those US voters who identified themselves as Republicans, believe that Obama didn't win the presidency fairly. (I wonder how that compares with Democrats' beliefs about Bush in 2000?)

On the same day, self-styled Conservative performance artist candidate Doug Hoffman retracted his retraction of his retraction of his concession in the ludicrous NY-23 race. (That means, for those of you who can't be bothered to figure it out, that he is - for the second time - challenging the result and demanding that "every ballot be counted". He is demanding that the election not be "stolen". Apparently, he considers some other election recently, which he doesn't name explicitly, was stolen...)

That makes three stories in one day pointing to a breakdown of faith in the democratic process: one homegrown, two USAlien. All it needs is for a survey in the UK to report that most people don't believe that voting can make a difference any more - not that unlikely, I'd think, on recent trends - and we'd have a full set.

Does this mean there's something wrong with democracy? Well, obviously there is, plenty, but is the present spate anything unusual?

I'm inclined to think not. There have always been plenty of people who are upset about losing. Until they actually go out and buy guns and try to change the government the old-fashioned way, I'm going to take the bright view and say that democracy is still working. For now.


SMG said...

The problem with most of these groups is a complete lack of diverse thought. "Everyone I know voted for McCain, Obama then must have cheated". Intrest groups are so myopic that they really can't fathom anyone not agreeing with them. Consevatives watch Fox News and liberals watch MSNBC, poor moderates like me have to read everything and try and read through all the BS and spin...

You may be right about democracy, maybe I will move to Singapore!

vet said...

That's a huge problem. The Economist had a fascinating article a year or so ago about how Americans increasingly live completely surrounded by their own political group.

Twenty years ago, Republicans and Democrats would tend to meet each other all the time - in shops, talking to their neighbours, their colleagues, etc. But now, more than 50% of them have moved to areas where they never even see the other kind of American, for months or years on end.

The media stratification just reinforces this division.

Combine this with the well-known tendency to believe that your personal circle of acquaintance is a representative sample of "real" people...

Good luck,