Democracy is as fragile as a flower and as tenacious as a weed. It has appeared in the most barren of ground and been stamped out in its most fertile land. We need to guard it in every way we can.
But what is it? It is not confined to the legislatures or parliaments of the world; it is not the possession of politicians. It is certainly not the plaything of the rich.
As long as we think of democracy as voting, we are doomed to see it fail. Voting in a mass society is the pointy end of democracy but like icebergs, most of democracy is 90% submerged. If voting was all there was, it would be – to stretch a metaphor – a thin ice sheet ready to melt away in the slightest heat.
Democracy is a way of thinking, an approach to life. It should imbue all aspects of our life — our families neighbourhoods, work places. It should be based on mutual respect and the rule of law. It should, first and foremost, be based on the principle of equality. As soon as we lose that last one — as soon as we think that one person’s opinion is more valuable than another, the slide towards thinking those voices should be silenced or ignored becomes so very easy.
Make no mistake; democracy is hard — especially when the other side doesn’t play by the rules. When your opponents are disrespectful; when your opponents are willing to use every trick in the book to win their cause — or worse yet, win the cause they’ve been paid to win — it is hard to turn the other cheek.
Bought and paid for shills are the worst — both as people but also as threats to democratic society. They don’t even have anything invested in the arguments, just taking the 30 pieces and turning their aim on the enemy.
Some are so vile as to be ridiculous. Ezra Levant’s recent rant about the Trudeau family was repulsive. But it hardly does any damage either to Trudeau or to democracy because nobody but a brain dead Sun worshipper could take him seriously. The man’s greatest accomplishment was to publish someone else’s insult to Islam. Ezra has never had an idea that someone didn’t pay to put in his head. See — that’s how it’s done. An ad hominem argument that denigrates Mr. Levant without ever having to talk about what he said. Not that what he’s ever said is worth talking about (Whoops, did it again).
So be careful out there. The democracy you kill may be your own.
But that’s ten minutes.