Democracy, they say, is government of the people, for the people, and by the people. I feel certain that it is not for a lack of a better choice of words that the word "people" appears three times in the definition. By this definition, the proponent, I believe, intended to state clearly, leaving out shadows of doubt, as to what constituted the most important ingredient of a democracy – people!
Unfortunately, a negative trend is rocking my society, an evil cloud is hovering over the land blocking out the light. The result, a dullness, a situation where the people have forgotten that they are all that matter in a democracy, and everything is of them and by them. By implication, proponents in our society today would very likely define democracy as: government of the leaders, for the leaders, and by the leaders.
In other societies where the dullness has not engulfed the people, where democracy is practiced, the people there talk of dividends of democracy. By interpretation, what the government they elected into office has done for them.
To eradicate any misconceptions as to what the dividends may be, these include adequate infrastructure including a functional power system, adequate healthcare facilities, an efficient transport system, a secure security network amongst other things. And, more often than not, where the people demand these of the people elected into power, they get them; and where that is not the case, there are documented consequences.
Unfortunately, in my society we talk not of dividends of democracy. Rather, the concerns are the liabilities of democracy. The people of my land have become so accustomed to having things done anomalously, so much so that the emphasis is not on interest that accrues from the democratic process including elections and its other condiments but on cutting our losses. The result is this: rather than talk about the shortcomings of the leader and what he should be doing to make their lives better, which will only serve as constructive criticism, which in turn should make their lives better, discussions centre on how less bad he is from his predecessor.
In those other societies where the position of the leader has been demystified, and taking up a leadership role implies a readiness to serve the people and be accountable to them, the leader is saddled with the responsibility of looking out and attending to all the needs of the society. Failure to satisfy these needs meets with consequences.
Also, the position of leadership comes with both written and unwritten codes on the conduct of the leader, especially while still occupying the position. Failure to comply with these codes, however unwritten they may be, also meets with consequences. It is in societies like these that government officials resign their positions voluntarily for faltering in discharging their duties and, even more admirably, the faltering of others.
Late last year, Egyptian transport minister resigned over a train crash south of Cairo which killed 18 people. In the same year, Macedonian minister of transport Mile Yanakievski filed his resignation in the wake of the boat incident at Lake Ohrid which killed 15 Bulgarian tourists on September 5, 2009. According to the minister, "My resignation is a moral act," Yanakievski said. He said it was too early to say precisely what caused the incident, but said that the boat had all its papers in order. By now, you may be wondering what the point is, so I'll end with John Terry being stripped of his captaincy of the England national football team also for infidelity.
The point here is in these societies, and others like it, the people actually expect only the best of performances from their leaders and anything short of it is totally unacceptable. The incidents leading to the loss of position for these leaders, were not in most cases due to their ineptness or inadequacies, and do not imply non-performance prior to the incidents. The simple situation here is the people are like shareholders in a company, they expect only the best as far as administration of the firm is concerned by those who have been saddled with that responsibility; and they expect to be paid dividends at stipulated times. Anything short of this is entirely unacceptable.
However, the same cannot be said for my society. My society can be likened to a one-man business. The leader is the business owner. The people are his workers. Of course, nothing the owner does is wrong. And if anyone were to have that opinion, he simply kept it to himself. Eventually, the owner leaves administration of the business to his heir. For all the shortcomings of the previous owner, the workers can only hope the new owner is not as bad as his father. It is a sad development, that which I have witnessed in my society, where people do not expect the best from their leaders. Rather, it is their hope that the current leader is not as bad as the last one.