Maturity of democracy

>> Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Ike Señeres

As it is supposed to be, political parties are supposed to hold their own conventions in order to choose their candidates for the coming national elections. The practice in the United States to hold primaries prior to the conventions may not be required of all democratic countries, but it is actually a good practice because it enables the members of the party to have a process of elimination that would result in having the strongest and most winnable candidate from among their ranks.
While the primaries are actually part of the democratic process within the political parties, the formal exercise of democracy actually happens in the national conventions, even if these are just done for the sake of formalities.
The theory behind having a national convention is that there are real party members at the local levels who would actually nominate and vote for the candidates of their choice. In a manner of speaking, what should really happen is that the political parties must first practice democracy within their own ranks, as a way perhaps of setting examples of how democracy should be practiced in the broader society. As an added advantage, the members of the political parties who vote in the primaries are actually given the chance to get to know those who are seeking the party nomination, to see the best and the worst among them.
After more than a hundred years of being supposedly a democratic country, it is sad to note that none of our political parties have gone through the motions of holding national conventions, much less to hold local primaries. As a poor substitute for the national conventions, our political parties could have at least called for party caucuses, but it appears that they have not done that either. Assuming for the sake of argument that some of them might have called for party caucuses, none of them have announced it, and that leaves room for suspicion that whatever process they went through was not transparent, simply because it was not exposed to public scrutiny.
Seeing that our political parties have seemingly not gone through a transparent process of nominations, we could only presume that they simply went through a process of anointment by a chosen few or much worst, by self-proclamation by the strongest among their own leaders. If they only went through a process of anointment, it would be solid proof that they did not practice democracy within their own ranks.
Much worst, it would also be proof that there is a dictatorship of a few people within their own ranks. If they simply went through the process of self-proclamation, then that is even more than worst, because it would mean that there is a dictatorship of only one person among them.
As it is supposed to be, each political party should not only have its own ideology, but also its own platform of governance. That being the case, the people are supposed to vote on the basis of solid ideologies and platforms, and not on the basis of the individual personalities and promises of the candidates. As it is also supposed to be, the political parties are supposed to spend for the campaigns of all their candidates, and it would not really matter whether an individual candidate has money to spend or not, for as long as he or she is qualified to run for the position that he or she has been nominated for by his or her party.
As it is happening now however, the individual candidates seem to be spending for their own campaigns, as they say so in their own advertising announcements.
One way or the other, this practice is not good for democracy, because running for public office has become an exclusive game for the rich, making it impossible for the poor to run, simply because they have no money. If only our system of putting caps on campaign spending is in place, this would not be a problem because there would be limits to what all candidates could spend. As we all know however, that system is weak, and because of that, it appears that all the candidates could freely spend as much money as they want.
For whatever it is worth, it would not be too much to say that over a hundred years would have been enough time for our democracy to mature, and that also includes our political parties that should have matured by now. As it is now however, the most we could say is that our democracy is still maturing in the same sense perhaps that we say that we are still a developing country. A few years back, we got away with that too, when we said that we are still industrializing, when we failed to achieve the status of being an industrialized country. First things first, perhaps our political parties have to show first that they really have the broad membership nationwide that could actually vote when a real convention is called. Otherwise, they might just say that they are still recruiting.
Perhaps one obvious sign that our democratic system is still immature is that many candidates are being adopted by so many political parties left and right, never mind what the ideologies and platforms of these parties are, if any that is. Since ideologies and platforms are supposed to be inspired by principles, it would appear that these candidates have no principles at all.
By the way, it also seems that our political parties hardly know the difference between alliances and coalitions, since these two terms appear to be interchanged freely. As it is supposed to be, two or more parties could form an alliance without giving up their ideologies and platforms. A coalition however in the political sense is like a merger in the business sense. To coalesce is to become one, and that means having the same ideologies and principles.
If we have been unable to become a mature democracy after over a hundred years, how much longer would it take us to do it? Could we possibly do it in a hundred more years, more or less? One thing for sure, we could never become a true democracy if our election system would continue to favor only those who have more in riches even if they have less in talents.
We could also never become a mature democracy if only those who are popular would win, even if they have no ideologies or platforms to speak of. To get to the point of true political maturity, we should start with the only way to start, and that is to start with having mature political parties with real ideologies and platforms.
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