Democracy is nothing but a politician’s catch phrase

Published: January 18, 2013
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Leaders have to come up from within us, from our roots, our kin. Until then, we will continue to be the fodder for another’s revolution. PHOTO: REUTERS

Our world today seems to be in a constant state of revolution. Somehow, revolution brings a romanticised solution to all that is wrong with a corrupt bureaucracy. 

Whoever promises the most drastic changes, the most extreme improvements, the most cacophonous, clamorous, and deafening rhetoric, is guaranteed a captive audience and an avid following.

One thing that these masters of spin can count on is the common man’s desperate desire for a better life, their despairing hope that the world has something finer to offer – if only they can find a charismatic, catalytic leader to make change happen for them.

We, the man on the street, also known as the citizen and the unit most in need of the aforementioned “better life”, are the most vocal advocates for a revolution.

According to public opinion, revolution will bring democracy, and with democracy will come peace, lawfulness, good fortune and prosperity.  What we fail to realise in our desperation is that a government of the people and for the people does not begin and end with democratically-held elections, but must continue on as democratic governance. These are assignments of accountability, not appointments of entitlement.

In our hunger for change we listen for the word “democracy,” which has become nothing more than the politician’s catch phrase, a perfunctory buzzword, a siren song. We fail to realise that democracy is a form of government for the people—and people are different in every country.

Thus, by default, the democracy of each country must be tailor made for its population and not the copy of another country’s governance. Laws necessary and successful in one thriving democracy might prove to be abject failures in another. This could be due to differences in culture, history, religion, and other myriad possibilities.

We have to study our chronicles, the good along with the bad.

We have to analyse what worked and what failed miserably within our own country to see what we want and what we desperately need.

When we look at democracy through a theoretical paradigm invented by the West, we see something that we yearn for, but which might not be the solution for us.

Our form of governance has to be as unique as our nation.

Instead of looking for a leader from among us, we look outward and upward for guidance, and so we have become a nation of followers. We will willingly march behind anyone who peddles a dream, but we never feel worthy enough to form a movement around our own dreams. So we pin our hopes and our hearts on anyone who is willing to lead us, never questioning loyalties, agendas, or ulterior motives. As a result, we are either left heartbroken and bitter, or continue fiercely loyal and blind to the obvious charade.

A revolution has to come from within the masses. We have to push away from the wall against which our backs have rested for the longest time. The elite lack the will to recast a state that seems to be working well for them. They may start the journey with an honest enthusiasm, but lose their convictions somewhere along the way.

Leaders have to come up from within us, from our roots, our kin. Until then, we will continue to be the fodder for another’s revolution.

Read more by Zeba here or follow her on Twitter @zebansari

Zeba Ansari

Zeba Ansari

A graduate of Bolan Medical College, Zeba has been researching and writing for various organizations and websites. She writes from the perspective of the common man and tweets as @zebansari

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.