Faith, Politics, and Transitions in Brussels

Free and Fair Elections

I will be honest, because it is only fair: this post, although being backdated to 6 November 2018, was not entirely written before or on that date. I wanted to write a post about elections on the midterm election day in the United States. Since that day, so much has happened, including the new, Democratically-controlled Congress has been sworn in. 

There are a few necessary if not sufficient conditions to a well-functioning democracy. The most famous of which may be a well-informed electorate. In order for a democracy to continue, the people voting must be informed to greater or less degrees of the issues and their impacts, so that they can make informed decisions about what to vote. But another necessary condition is that the voting process is free and fair. If the process is tampered with, then the results of the election are questionable and perhaps illegitimate.

Democracy thrives in an open contest of ideas, where the most compelling, most appealing ideas attract a majority that legitimates the power of whom they elect — to enact those ideas or ideals. If the contest is not free or not fair, other, darker factors come into play, e.g., who can raise the most money, who can set the rules to benefit themselves, who can manipulate public opinion through deception the best, and others. And then the best ideas or the most compelling ideas cannot win the hearts and minds of people. Bad ideas can win, which can lead to bad consequences and hurt people whom were supposed to be helped by their leaders.

Democracy has been called the least bad form of government. But where there are three people together or more, there will be some sort of “governing” that happens. It is unavoidable as we are tribal, social creatures, us humans. Democracy can look different than the individualistic, Western, European democracy that has been exported from places like Britain, Germany, and France in the 19th century, and America in the 20th and 21st. The vox populi can be spoken in several ways, if we are willing to listen. But I do think that democracy is personalistic — uplifting and enabling persons to pursue their fulfillment in a society that supports them. At least, that’s the hope and the goal.

That begins with fair elections, fair institutions, in which voices can be recognized, heard, uplifted, and supported — no matter who they are or for whom they are voting.