Democracy, said the former US President Ronald Reagan, is worth dying for, because it’s a deeply honorable form of government ever devised by man.
Indeed, democracy is “sweet.” Anyone who has studied Comparative Government as I have done will agree.
Democracy guarantees freedoms, the rule of law, and respect for human rights. More importantly, democracy ensures that supreme power, when obtained, is vested in the people, and as the Merriam Webster dictionary explains, that that power is exercised directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually through free elections.
But sometimes too much application of democracy, and in the US case, absolute democracy, (read freedoms), can be dangerous.
With only a few days to go before what many say is the most consequential presidential election in recent history, democracy in America appears to be under assault.
It is normal for candidates in elections everywhere to trade accusations and counter-accusations. But what we have been hearing from some quarters – especially Donald Trump’s campaign quarter – is unsettling even for a stable, democratic country like America.
We are hearing of possibilities of “a revolutionary war” – of violence and bedlam – if Hillary Rodham Clinton wins the elections on November 8. We are hearing that people will march on the Capitols. “They’re going to do whatever needs to be done to get her out of office, because she does not belong there,” according to a Washington Post story quoting one Trump supporter last week.
We are hearing the Republican Party candidate threatening to appoint a special prosecutor and hinting at jailing Clinton if he wins the election; and we are also hearing one Republican Senator remarking that “gun owners may have to put a ‘bull’s-eye’ on Clinton.
Then you have the “lock her up” chants at Trump rallies. They have almost become a signature tune for the Republicans. The thing is that the candidate himself is not denouncing the incendiary rhetoric coming from his supporters. He has not once come out to condemn such dangerous utterances.
Trump too believes the elections are already rigged and is asking his supporters (read “vigilantes”) to physically be present at polling stations to “monitor” (read “intimidate”) the polls and ensure votes are not stolen.
Interestingly this week, it was a Trump not a Clinton supporter who was arrested trying to vote twice.
Many of the remarks we hear from excited party supporters border on hate speech and endanger human life. They are inciting and undermine the rule of law and everything associated with democracy.
In countries where democracy is more of a lip service than a functional reality (read Africa) such elements would be hunted down, prosecuted or shot dead. I am sure African dictators are having a big laugh at what is happening in the world’s biggest democracy.
Of course the United States cannot hunt and jail people for expressing their opinions because of its long democratic tradition.
But if democracy means giving people unlimited freedoms to say what they want then we must question the whole concept of democracy and interrogate Reagan’s conclusions.
So, is democracy really worth dying for? I leave that to you.
Joe Khamisi is a former journalist, diplomat and Member of Parliament. He is also the Author of ‘Politics of Betrayal:Diary of a Kenyan Legislator‘, a political memoir about the situation in Kenya between 2001, when the ruling party of President Daniel Arap Moi, the Kenya African National Union (KANU), merged with Raila Odinga’s National Development Party.
The book also narrates cases of corruption in Parliament and in the Media and records Senator Obama’s visit to Kenya in 2006. As a friend of Barack Obama Senior, the author also remembers the times and tragedies of the American-educated economist.
Joe Khamisi’s second book, a biography, ‘Dash Before Dusk’ is also now on sale.
Joe’s latest book is ‘The Wretched Africans: A Study of Rabai and Freretown Slave Settlements‘ which has recently been published and is now available to purchase.