By Mohammad Mazhari 

When democracy lacks morality

April 5, 2021 - 17:42

Capitol Hill is witnessing sad days after an attack on the U.S. Capitol complex in Washington DC which has left one police officer dead and another injured. 

This incident recalls storming the Capitol building just a few days before Joe Biden's inauguration, a day is known as dark Wednesday. 

It was not only the Wednesday that turned into a debacle but the U.S. policies over the last decades disappointed many people all around the world who used to look at the country as a dreamland.

Though Donald Trump was a symptom, not a cause, approaches followed by the former president have not only ruined Washington’s reputation and credibility but also called into question the principle of modern democracy in the United States. 

Trump came to power through American democracy, which has always been claiming it represents a model of good governance in the world. But Trump showed how impulsive decisions could push American democracy into the abyss, and how the country is at risk by semi-Hitlers.

Democracy certainly helps us to hold governments more responsible, but cannot guarantee accountability. A responsible government must be democratic, but a democratic government is not necessarily accountable. Though Adolf Hitler is dead, yet the world is witnessing lunatic leaders who think like him.

Decades after the fall of the Third Reich, one of the most important issues in modern political history is to find out how Hitler came to power in a democratic political system. Hitler took the reins of power through a democratic process, but he destroyed all those democratic institutions in Germany.

The questions are: Is uncontrolled democracy is sufficient to provide greater human well-being and security? Do countries that claim democracy in the world necessarily offer a better life for their citizens? Apart from domestic policy, have all democratic states follow sanity and justice in their foreign policy?

Israel and its apartheid policies against the Palestinians can be a good example; and of course, American foreign policy is another instance.

 In recent decades, the United States has not only been involved in futile wars that have had no result other than instability and insecurity in the Middle East, but it has also consolidated its ties with the tyrannical regimes in the region. Trump used to talk about his “favorite dictators”. 

Acknowledging these contradictions as a reality and part of international politics may help us to deal with immoral policies in democratic governments as a step towards responsible governance.

Democracy certainly helps us to hold governments more responsible, but cannot guarantee accountability. A responsible government must be democratic, but a democratic government is not necessarily accountable.

Being unrestricted, relying on monetary cartels and pure capitalism rather than human rights may undermine democracy and mislead the masses, as we have seen in right-wing populist democracies. 

It seems that the U.S. needs to prioritize repairing its value system before the sanctification of democracy; ethical rules and human rights must be considered as sacred as a democracy so that the elected person in a democratic country cannot decide impulsively with regard to domestic foreign policy matters; he won’t be free to withdraw his country from the international treaties overnight.

This is a completely irresponsible way of governance when you disregard fundamental values. This is a very example of an irresponsible democracy. So, not only the governments must be encouraged to be democratic, but democracy must be responsible based on morality and human values.

Political systems always need to be updated and reevaluated at least every decade to find their defects. For instance, today many experts consider the electoral college an outdated undemocratic mechanism that is partly rooted in slavery. 

Likewise, absolute power in the hands of the democratically elected president can act against democracy and peace.

 Democracy also needs boundaries drawn by morality and fundamental human rights. Suppose people of a country vote for the atomic bombing of a neighboring country. Obviously, this would be a violation of human rights. 

Then respecting valuable experiences of the past is a must, especially when it comes to democracy as one of the most important achievements of human rationality. But we must also learn from our mistakes.

Our democracies are supposed to serve peace, equality, and development, regardless of nationality, religion, or ethnicity. 

Undoubtedly, something is wrong when a democracy helps apartheid policy or wages war.


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