How to recognise a failing democracy

Saturday June 09, 2018 Published in Letters to the Editor

Dear Editor,

Signs of a failing democracy:  Perceived or real, the choice is yours.

These signs of failure have been extracted from various internet sources including Wikipedia and Quora:

Failure of government to perform constitutional obligations - ie timely financial reporting, unequal treatment by police of citizens, failure of the Ombudsman to respond to citizens’ requests for assistance and enquiry, nepotism, public servants hired on the basis of political association.

Add to the list the unequal treatment of political constituencies when it comes to providing services, and the use of Crown Law to repress disaffection or conflict with elected officials or opinions. In the area of education, there’s inequality of services and opportunity, scholarships etc.

Then we move on to the failure of a majority to permit parliament to operate as legislated in constitution, shutting down debate and withholding completion of legislation, politicians continually spending more time on trying to wheel and deal with each other for power rather than tending to their job of managing the country’s business.

Does this sound familiar? Now guess whose fault it is.

It is quite clear that a democracy requires continued support and monitoring by the voter. Its greatest weakness is a lazy, ignorant self and a disinterested public who only concern themselves with their own needs and don’t give a damn about anyone else or the country.

They vote for all the wrong reasons – along tribal or village lines. Family, a job, a truckload of gravel on their road, a box of beer and lamb chops…anyone who has lived in the Cook Islands for any length of time would have seen it all. In fact, though, it has been stated that it’s a citizen’s moral obligation to resist and protest the abuse of your democratic rights.

So what do you do? First of all, get out and vote, especially you younger people.

Second, use your head. Vote for the best person you think can improve the situation. Unfortunately,

you don’t have really good choices because most of the candidates have been picked out by a bunch of old men lurking in the political background who absolutely believe they are entitled to run your life even if they are so challenged by technology that they can’t handle emails.

Trust me I know, I’m older than they are.

            Forever Optimistic for the

            Cook Islands

            (Name and address supplied)

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