Jason OMahony - Irish political blogger, Irish politics, EU politics

Democracy, Henry Kissinger style.

Posted by Jason O on Apr 22, 2010 in Irish Politics

I recently came across this quote from the former US Secretary of State, used to justify US support for Pincohet. It’s quite chilling in its rawness, but what is interesting is its interpretation of what democracy is for, that is, good government. Having lived in a country where a plurality of my fellow countrymen have constantly elected Fianna Fail governments, despite all their failures, it is reasonable to say that democracy does not always lead to good government. The Allende government in Chile was actually wrecking the country, but it was elected by the people.

So what is democracy for? Why keep it, especially in an age where voters are becoming less and less willing to grasp the complex challenges of managing a modern society? During the Lisbon referendum, I met many No voters who were voting No for sincere, well-informed and thoughtful reasons. We begged to differ on what was best for the country. But I also met people who were voting No either out of stupidity or a lazy unwillingness to actually inform themselves and instead believed nonsense from extremists. Coincidentally, it is not “patronising” or “arrogant” to tell someone the fact they believe is wrong if it is actually wrong, as has become socially acceptable to announce, any more than it is patronising to tell someone who has doused themselves in petrol that lighting a match is a bad idea.

The reason we need democracy is that it is a bulwark against dictatorship, and for that alone, it is worth its weight in gold. We may elect crooks and fools, but we can also throw them out, and for that alone, it’s worth keeping. Do some in Fianna Fail rob and steal and use the political system to give jobs to the amoral? Yes they do. Would some of them like to ban other parties? Some of them would. But they can’t, because they know that even the Irish people with all their apathy and cynicism won’t put up with that, and that’s why Kissinger is wrong about democracy and letting the people decide.   


Debate No.2: When Cleggmania ended.

Posted by Jason O on Apr 22, 2010 in British Politics

I hope I’m wrong, I really do. I would love the Lib Dems to absolutely storm this election, and finally bring about reform of Britain’s obscene electoral system. But I fear that tonight is the night that the shine comes off Nick Clegg. He’s now the man to beat, expectations are too high for him, and people who have never voted Lib Dem are just looking for an excuse to go back to where they came from.

He knows this too, and maybe he’ll surprise us, but I reckon this is when the Lib Dem vote starts to falter, when Cameron puts the boot in, and the stratospheric poll ratings start to fall. It’ll be interesting if Cameron stays on topic tonight (Foriegn affairs) or decides to use the debate to push the “Vote Yellow Get Brown” message. Also interesting will be how Clegg responds to the Trident and EU questions. I still think the promise of an In/Out referendum may bizarrely attract eurosceptics to the Lib Dem banner, and cause Cameron problems, so it’s all to play for yet. 

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