I don't know of any true democracies in the world and my previous post is why--it's basically glorified mob rule. Contrary to what the news media says (along with most of the people who graduated school after me), the United States is a "democratic republic".
Max quoted: "It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government ... except all the others that have been tried."
I love that quote, whoëver said it. I heard a similar quote once (from memory): "A monarchy or dictatorship is like a huge ship that forges ahead until it hits a rock or iceberg, and then it sinks. A democracy is like a huge raft. It's basically unsinkable, but your feet are always wet."
Hi Again Bert. Everything you say I agree with totally....but politicians in general and Australian ones in particular seem to be more thick-skinned than us mere mortals.
Graphic illustration of this recently. We had a state premier, Barry o'Farrell, who thought about selling of the electricity utilities (I work for one of them). Our union mounted a campaign against it and public opinion was mostly opposed to it....so he listened to that and ruled it out. However he got tripped up over a donation of a valuable bottle of wine he received and we now have a new premier, Mike Baird. He is mad keen on selling of the electricity utilities and does not seem to give a damn what we. the public or even his own party think. A forced referendum would almost certainly sort him out, but other than that I despair of anyone or anything stopping him. And yes, we have a massive campaign of letter writing and other means to voice our opposition. Carrots sometimes work but sometimes you need a stick....
How do you do that (apart from booting them out at the next election by which time they have usually done untold damage)?
Hi David. Ultimately, yes, you boot them out of office. But before that, you write letters to your representatives, and of course you can also demonstrate and so on. But writing letters is important, because your representatives are duty-bound to listen to their constituents. Even if it's your President or Prime Minister who is misbehaving, perhaps acting too much like a dictator, a big letter writing campaign to your immediate representatives, in the House of Representatives/Parliament, and in the Senate or other upper house, is key.
Referendums are good too, like you suggest, IMO, but there are less cumbersome mechanisms already in place that need to be exerciced first.
I know that in the US, there's a sort of narrative that claims that our Second Amendment right (right to bear arms) is key to keep politicans in line. I'm at least partially skeptical about this view, but okay, it probably plays a role. The real key, IMO, is the attitude of the citizens. Governments that misbehave can and are dissolved routinely, even in countries without overly lax gun control laws such as we have in the US.
Whenever I hear our politicians referred to as "leaders," and especially when they refer to themselves that way, it makes my skin crawl. They'd better be listeners first, and WE need to remind them!
To the question, "How do we keep that from happening here," my answer is "keep your brain engaged, hold your representatives accountable, and be wary of the mentally lazy 'worker ant' attitude."
Hi Bert. You said above ".....to hold their representatives accountable".
How do you do that (apart from booting them out at the next election by which time they have usually done untold damage)? I reckon referendums are a great way to do this. Hold them regularly (say every 6 months) and trigger them on whether a proposed policy goes above a certain monetary spend, or affects more than a certain number of people, or is the subject of complaint by more than a certain number of people. Every 6 months the electorate would vote on any such issues that have come up in those 6 months. That way the people can truly have their say on anything from whether to start a new mine on prime farming land, to whether to kick the current government out. Sure it would cost money, but the savings you'd get from having a government that is really accountable would more than pay for it, I reckon.
Thanks all for the replies. In Australia voting is compulsory (though they don't seem to enforce that too severely). But the problem is the choice of candidates and parties. The Lib/Nats can't manage people, Labour can't manage money, and the Greens, while they are good to have around to keep the others in check, would be a joke in government (should I say, more of a joke than the 2 main parties). So who do you vote for? Usually it's a case of the devil you know....But here, a millionaire mining magnate called Clive Palmer has garnered a bit of the vote, enough to give him the balance of power, and in Europe a few countries have had good showings by far-right parties. While I don't subscribe to all of their values, it is great to have a bit of opposition to keep the same-old same-old parties on their toes.