Saturday, January 25, 2014

Democracy in Action: A Flip of the Coin

Democratic governance is widely regarded as the most humane form of population participation in how laws are conceived and enacted. Take American presidential elections as an example: often the winner gets 51% of the vote and the loser gets 49% of the votes. As third parties don't have much traction in the USA, we shall leave the math simple for the sake of argument.

While fair elections ostensibly solidify the will of the people through the democratic process, in fact this line of reasoning makes no sense. The President may have gotten more votes than his opponent, but 49% of the people did not want him. That's a helluva lot of people unhappy about their Commander-In-Chief and Chief Executive.

Chief is an interesting designation, an atavistic remains harkening back to tribal times. (Although they still abound around the globe, modern society will be replacing them with 21st century politicians in no time.) In some cultures, the chief is all-powerful, with or without a concomitant council. But one tribe whose social organization makes the most sense, or made the most sense, was the one into which Nelson Mandela was born and raised.

Traditionally, the Xhosa tribe has ruled by consensus, meaning that everyone has to agree to a policy/action before it is implemented. And until unanimity is reached, the final decision simply stews and brews. No rush. When consensus is finally achieved, the group moves forward as a united front.

Of course in countries with large populations in the tens of millions or billions, a national election might never come to pass with consensus as the benchmark for change. Stuck with democratic governance, it more resembles a coin toss that a fair system: heads you win, tails you lose.

So let us all pray to the goddess of all gamblers - Lady Luck - the dame who has achieved immortality in casinos and back alley betting venues. Bald Eagle, move over. Our Lady is standing by, ready to raise her lopsided scale of justice to the heavens.

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