Political developments in the western hemisphere within the last year have come fast/thick and have caught many of us by surprise. In retrospect though I believe as many have suggested that we’ve been too confident of our Democratic/Liberal credentials which has in effect cause us to be blinded from the stark signs singling the devolution of these values/traditions. There are 2 main reasons for this new trend in my view;
- Our assumption that the evolution of these core values happens automatically rather than deliberately through careful analysis/planning. So the result of that is that we become distracted to side issues/conflicts rather zooming out to see the big picture to establish context/clarity of where we are and where we want to be in terms of Democratic governance in an ever changing world. So why the fuss about deliberate analysis/planning? Well as we all know the world has been transformed in so many ways in the last few decades and we’ve obviously been affected by these changes in things like; technology/communication, society/demographics, politics, security and evolving threats. The result of all this is that we ended up with an antiquated democratic system of governance that is not inline with these changes and which created vulnerabilities at every level deeming it unsustainable in its current format.
- The rigid bureaucracy of governance coupled with special interest groups that have benefited from the status quo when it comes to democratic evolution is yet another hurdle in our path and one that it is quite powerful after decades of complicity in obtaining many unfair advantages over many of us and gaining strength in the process.
Here are some suggestions about where we need to be-at least for starters;
1- Economic reforms/Fair Distribution of Wealth and moving away from Capitalism & Globalization in their current incarnation that only seem to work for the wealthy. It has become crystal clear that one of the key reasons contributing to the rise of the ultra-right ideology in Europe are flaws of the current economic structure that allows wealth concentration within 1-5% of society. Democracy needs to flow to the economics of state otherwise it makes no sense.
2- Reforms to the Educational system
a) Eliminating any forms of discrimination or segregation based on religion or culture. Social integration/harmony is key to a functioning democracy.
b) Refocus on Civic Education/Engagement as well as Extracurricular activities. We need to raise critical thinkers keen to engage/contribute to society rather than followers keen on consuming things and/or information without question. We also need to re-emphasize the values of Truth & Integrity.
c) Increasing Educational/Cultural exchange programs to raise awareness and understanding of other cultures/traditions particularly in an interconnected world we live in today. Our success in building a prosperous future is largely linked to our ability to engage/interact with people/leaders around the world. Such interactions also helps enrich our own experiences/knowledge and make us more aware/confident as individuals.
3- Emphasis on Family as the backbone of our social/moral compass and ensuring there is proper levels of support/benefits and ongoing engagement. We really need to go back to basics on this one not only in statements but in action because there is nothing that can replace a stable/safe upbringing within a family.
4- Focus on Health/Quality of Life rather than on Consumption. This has to be strategic objective because this is key to a productive/progressive society. It also directly impacts our economy and our ability to compete in the world we live in so we need to take it seriously.
5- Reforming the Political Echo System:
a) Fighting Corruption/Money in Politics. We need to eliminate activity of lobbying by special interest groups and/or business. If there needs to be negotiations to help influence policy these should be done transparently and confined within clear guidelines.
b) Ensuring Constant stream of new blood through term limits to eliminate corruption/rigid ideology and ensure fair opportunity in representation. I see some great signs coming from the new French President Emanuel Macron who has pledged to overhaul and renew the French political establishment ushering in new blood into the system. This could truly be a revolution in governance if he follows o with this pledge, something I’ve been calling for in many of my previous posts. Reason are simple; the new generation have more at stake in building the future, and stagnation in the political establishment brings stagnation in vision and increases opportunity of corruption or at the very least indifference. We also need to make sure there is opportunity for more people to represent their constituents and help bring new energy to such a vital part of our democracy.
c) Ensuring government departments are lead by technocrats rather than “Cowboys” by constant reevaluation of standards/prerequisites. This is one thing that I truly do not understand where government departments are headed by people who have no experience in that specific domain. It is even possible as happened in the recent election in the US that you have people heading departments they have in the past strongly advocated against their work-Scott Pruit head of the EPA; this is insane, but it is one extreme. What is more liable to happen is wrong decisions to be made and more importantly no long term/consistent vision/identity developed/applied within the department.
6- Eliminating Disinformation & Regulating Politicized News Media consumed by sensationalism rather than unbiased/fact based reporting/analysis. Having private businesses take ownership and/or developing of news organizations can be tricky unless there is a solid set of guidelines/standards to be followed overseen by an independent body like the case of Ofcom in the UK.
7- Moving towards a moral Foreign Policy, one that emphasizes our Democratic / Liberal values-practicing what we preach rather than one driven solely by commercial interests. I would argue that most of the conflicts around the world have been created or at least propagated by flawed western intervention/policies that do not conform with our own values/traditions which is in one sense hypocritical and at another racist. More importantly this approach does not solve but exacerbates conflicts.
Main takeaway is that we need to come up with a new model of governance, one that that is inline with this day/age and one taking onboard all the lessons learnt during the last few decades about the world we live in and about ourselves (our strengths/weaknesses). More importantly we need to keep an eye/continually assess the the big picture when it comes to Liberal values & democratic governance.