top of page

So, What Now For Democracy?

The Althing, in Iceland is the world’s oldest parliament, founded in

930AD. The British often refer to Westminster as being the

“Mother of Parliaments”. And here in the US, many pride

themselves on supposedly having the “oldest democracy in the

world.” Regardless of who holds that title, in light of recent events

in Washington D.C. and the culmination of Trump’s fascism, we need

to focus on the perilous state of democracy state-side.

Every President since the Second World War has made sure to

frequently mention the concept of democracy in any number of their

speeches, press conferences and so on. Its frequent referencing

acted as a polarizing concept in sharp contrast to Soviet communism

and then militant Islam. It was a handy stick to beat others with –

essentially “We are democratic, you are not. You must therefore

bend to our will if we so decide.” Or put another way, as the people

of Iraq know all too well, “we’ll bomb you into democracy.”

Then along came Trump. Irrespective of his ridiculously limited

vocabulary, his referencing of democracy has been noticeably

conspicuous by its absence. Which on the one hand is alarming, but

on the other, bizarrely, is actually quite fitting. Beyond the initial

shock of Trump vaguely stumbling across something to be correct, it

has to be stressed, the US has never been anything else other than

an illusion of democracy.

Post-revolution, the new Republic, supposedly democratic at

inception, was nothing of the sort. Black slaves were still chattel,

“worth” three-fifths the electoral representation per state when

compared to white Americans, and of course devoid of the right to

vote person by person. The British slave-owners had gone, only to be

replaced by new American ones. What difference did that mean to

Black Americans? They were still slaves. Women were also in the

same disenfranchised boat.

Nearly a hundred years on from the Revolution and the country then

tore itself in two in a bloody civil war. Again, any lofty pretence

that the North triumphed over the Confederacy in the name of

universal enfranchisement was quickly shown to be a sham in the

face of Jim Crow and ongoing segregation.

Another hundred years went by and still the democracy of the US

was a white play thing, giving rise to the Civil Rights movement in the

1960s. Sure, by then women had gained the vote, but tens of

millions of Black Americans continued to be voter supressed – a

problem that of course persists to this day.

The toxic make-up of supposed American “democracy” is

underscored by the oscillating nature of the tired two-party system

of Democrats and Republicans. The very idea that democratic

representation can be summed up by two monolithic parties is a

nonsense, despite the oft heard cry that that both parties are

“broad umbrellas.” That flimsy claim may well be the case, but what

such muddled platitudes bring is nothing more than superficial

change. Both parties are corporate junkies and heavily reliant on

their Wall Street donors who have their very specific vested


And on the subject of corporate influence on the American electoral

system, the Citizens United decision of 2010, which effectively

determined that multi-billion dollar corporations were as much

entitled to have a political voice as American citizens, served only to

show how far the anti-democratic rot had penetrated the American


Now we have had the storming of the Capitol by a mob of froth-at-

the-mouth Trump lunatics, and American democracy has been

referred to as now “hanging by a thread.” The irony is, it always

was. Trump is the natural culmination of the virulent strand of

American anti-democratic thought that has persisted in the US

since its inception. It runs in tandem with Isaac Asimov’s accurate

perception of a swathe of the American people that subconsciously

subscribe to the anti-intellectual mantra that “my ignorance is just

as good as your knowledge.” Anti-democratic and anti-intellectual.

Donald Trump and his many followers to a tee.

What now then for what is claimed to be US democracy? Externally,

never again will the US claim to have the moral high ground when

castigating other countries for their supposed lack of democratic

credentials. Internally, the whole rotten system needs a Herculean

make-over to ensure a genuine democracy that provides real social

and economic justice for all. Regardless of skin color, gender or any

other arbitrary determinator. That is of course easier said than

done. However, like solving any problem or addiction, the first step

is always to accept there is a problem and break the chains of anti-

democratic denial.


bottom of page