Is Democracy Worth Saving?

Is democracy worth saving?

On the face of it, the answer would seem to be yes. On the face of it.

No matter where I turn, people keep telling me, or tweeting about, or putting posts on Facebook about how much they hate the state of our news, and how it serves the 1% or the government, not the electorate, and therefore not the democratic process.

They mention how great it is we have The Guardian and how Channel 4 news is shining through, but then, often in the same breath, how much they fear the BBC has let us all down with their editorial policy that Brexit is a done deal, or how the BBC never seems to like having too hard a go at incumbent government politicians, or being neutral.

We all bemoan things. We all hate how things have changed, usually for the worst. We keep saying we want government held to account. We keep noting that, with local journalism on the decline  (and here and here) due to loss of local news papers, that local government can effectively get away with anything, because no one is watching. Despite a plethora of new local radio stations coming online out of the Ofcom licensing process, not a one has hard news commitments, because they are mostly community-based, not commercial-based enterprises.

We all read with horror how the WIndrush children are being treated appallingly, and how no one seems to know how many have been sent home, and a few of us wonder how many other atrocities our government have been getting up to in our name.

What no one seems willing, however, is: to do something about it.

There are tonnes of initiatives on the go, many where the only involvement required is to vote, either on the parliamentary website, or one of the many other petition creating sites. Sometimes volunteers are required, because actual work needs doing. Finally, just a few require cold, hard cash.

Yet, when I look, the numbers signing petitions are way down on where they should be. Volunteers are far harder to come by than they should be, and cash appeals languish for months, hardly getting nearer their goals at all.

Sure, we’ll tweet and retweet more; some of us will blog; some journalists will write more opinion pieces; some will create Facebook pages, events and posts; some might even write to their MP, or someone, anyone, to complain. And then the news cycle will move on, and we’ll be shocked all over again at the next revelation, which none of us saw coming.

Why can’t we see them coming until they have already happened?

In nearly all cases, there were certainly people who were aware of travesties to democracy going on. The people directly involved and affected (who were, understandably too distracted to do too much), and their families, many of whom were shouting loud and clear, but no one was listening.

There are only so many stories The Guardian and Channel 4 news can do though. And that will be true of us or any organisation. But we need to do more, whether at grass roots level, through a more formal approach or via a news organisation. In order to serve democracy, which serves the electorate, the electorate must be willing to get involved, help out or occasionally donate or invest.

We can make a difference, but when it comes to getting people to pay, do, vote or support democracy, it appears that’s a step too far. So, I ask again, is democracy worth saving? Or shall we let it pass in the night and mourn it tomorrow and always, or at least until the news cycle moves on?




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Featured Image Credit: Laser Guided Democracy Stencil, by SliceofNYC on Flickr, Creative Commons 2 License

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