By Andrés Felipe Bernal Blanco
Advocates of democracy must accept Trump’s victory. After Brexit, the rejection of the peace agreement with the FARC, Rajoy’s victory in Spain, and Donald Trump’s victory in the United States, the world’s media and social networks are on fire. “Ignorant,” “dumb,” “insensitive,” and “spiteful,” are some of the more docile adjectives that people have attributed to voters who opted for each of these democratic options.
Horror has taken over the world. It seems that we are living a democratic crisis never seen before — or apparently, this is the message they want us to believe.
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Playground, a media platform that aims to educate us about these “nefarious” electoral results, recently viralized a video with a very clear message: the latest election results in the world are an epidemic of democratic anomalies. According to the video, people have made the wrong decision in each of these democratic processes.
It seems then, that according to Playground, there is a “politically correct” way to vote, but we have chosen the wrong way. In that sense, perhaps we should start thinking about whether it is better to avoid this pantomime called democracy, and simply designate the person or result the elites deem to be the correct as the winner.
Moreover, according to the video, we need more education to exercise our duty to vote in a better way, or at least a certain indoctrination about the correct system of values. Therefore, society needs a reassessment of democracy, as well as greater citizen participation, as in Athens, the cradle of democracy.
Curiously, if the Athenian system of democracy were to be applied, most people would not be allowed to vote. The few who would, would have to be chosen by lot, not by qualification or conviction.
Finally, the video accuses economic and technological developments of being the architects of these nefarious results, as if becoming the Luddites of the XXI century would change peoples’ erroneous votes.
Given these lessons of moral superiority to vote, it is important to make several reflections:
If the people are ignorant and vote poorly, perhaps this would lead us to think that some are destined to govern, and others to be governed; the former educated to impose “political correctness,” and the latter to accept it submissively.
In this way, we could approach more aristocratic or monarchical forms of democracy. I wonder, however, to what extent the defenders of the universal vote would be willing to support returning to this type of political system.
Now, why do some advocate democracy only until the candidates of their choice lose?
2016 has proven to be a year of adverse results for progressives. Since the winners are not to their taste, the easiest thing they can do is to criticize democracy.
It turns out that their losses are democratic anomalies, and that people who voted wrongly, did so out of ignorance, fear, or because they were deceived. Javier Pérez Bodalo puts it in a simpler way: that is how democracy works.
It is paradoxical — especially regarding the Colombian peace agreement with the FARC — that those who support Congressional representation for terrorists, and believe those assassins are peaceful men, are speaking of fear.
Trump’s victory in the United States, Brexit in England, Rajoy in Spain, the “No” in Colombia, and a possible victory for Le Pen in France, are also results of democracy. These are the outcome of the victory of a majority against a minority; it is the dictatorship of the ballot, and not of establishing all kinds of rights as principles counter-weight to the majority in order to make them the “politically correct” option.
If there is a loser in 2016, it is the “politically correct” way of thinking. People have voted, and pollsters, analysts, and social media failed to see the results.
The one who speaks the hardest, and the longest in the media is no longer the one who wins. And not all the people who voted for Trump are racist, xenophobic or fascists, nor did they vote against Clinton to perpetuate heteronormative patriarchy.
If they voted for Trump, for Brexit, and for the “No” in Colombia, it was because these options offered a change. If they vote for Le Pen, it is because people want a change. And that is democracy, too.
I wonder what would have happened if Clinton won. Surely, the currently maligned US society would have magically changed overnight. They would no longer be called ignorant, uneducated, and racist.
Or is it that we like democracy only when we win? And when we lose, it is the fault of others, of the evil, “deplorable” (in the words of Hillary Clinton) sector of society. On the contrary, those who accept democratic results are those who are morally and ethically superior.
In that vein, it is expected that we will be sad because the option that goes against my value system, won. And to continue to think that our values are better than those of others.
So much so, that we justify the sadness of that defeat to such an extent that we have to stop our daily activities, such as leaving home, going to work, or even suspending midterm exams throughout Colombia, in order to recover from our depression.
The only ones to blame for the result of the plebiscite in Colombia, are Santos and his government. They failed.
They are part of a political elite that has failed to interpret the country they claim to represent; a Democratic party that did not offer a real change for Colombia; a president who underestimated the opposition, unable to listen to the citizens.
And at this point, the losers have not been able to make a stop along the way and consider that maybe, just maybe, their positions are not those of the majority. Precisely because only they hold the truth, and the rest is an “error” of democracy.
The fear provoked by the victory of Trump, is not of Trump himself. Bush and other Republican candidates have been accused of the same, but that doesn’t make it true. It was apparent to many that Trump was a superior candidate.
Ironically, with Trump’s triumph the Dow Jones index had its biggest rise since 2011, contrary to fatalistic predictions in the stock markets. Reality did not turn out the way the fearmongers had predicted.
The reality is that in the end, we have too much power concentrated in the hands of one person. In a highly interventionist state, which is incapable of providing minimum security and justice, extremist populism embodied in one individual, is likely to cause fear.
If the state were smaller and people were less dependent on politicians and more on themselves, the results of democracy, however anomalous we think they may be, would not generate greater concern.
In the meantime, Trump and Le Pen’s victories are also results of democracy. Advocates of democracy must accept these victories.
Andrés Felipe Bernal Blanco holds a Masters degree in Government from the Alberto Lleras Camargo School of Government, and a political scientist gratuated in the Universidad de los Andes in Colombia. Follow him Twitter.