If democracy claims equality, then the people ought to be regarded as equally criminal and heroic as the leaders.
Let me take myself and you back to the topic of popular elections, specifically to the mayor election in Bogotá and the campaign for the GOP nomination in the USA.
As the date of the election draws near, the candidates in Bogotá are beginning to spice up their campaigns with more ads, more speeches, more entertaining debates and more proposals that feel, somehow, just pulled from a hat.
To be honest, the candidates running for the GOP nomination seem to be doing the same thing. The electorates are then presented with many options, all advertised as equally good and evil when compared to the other candidates.
Right now, the candidates and their publicity teams are going after what is known as swing points: the elusive 10 to 12 % that remains forever undecided and just go with the tide when push comes to shove. And this is not the problem, really. The big issue comes with the quality of the content of what they say to catch and retain the swing points.
Usually, when election day comes this close, the candidates fall into attempting to show the electorate the inability of their contenders to govern, based particularly on the lack of consistency of their ideas and proposals, and pointing out personal and historic flaws in them, so that they will be elected with little problem.
But what these people willfully omit and the public ignors all too ridiculously is that a president, or a mayor, is nothing more than an executing figure and a visible head, being otherwise subject to either a congress or a city council to debate and decide. And all that is left then for the president or mayor is to sign and go on national television endorsing what has been done and decided by the congress or city council.
I am not undermining with my words the work of presidents and mayors the world over, no. I am not saying they are worthless or that simply they cannot work effectively, because I believe they do. My problem is with the electorate who still does not understand that electing a local leader in democracies such as those we now live in does not mean they will have the entire weight and responsibility of the government upon themselves (although public opinion holds them responsible for everything and anything).
Democracy is built upon the supposition that the people govern themselves, and that the policies enacted by the central government will be those the people chose to enact through their elected representatives and officials. Yet when any of those policies backfires, then it was the government´s fault and the people are cleansed from all guilt. When any policy pays off the expected benefits, then all hail Congress and the popular interests.
Where, then, is the principle of democracy when this happens? Where is the shared responsibility the people who elected the congress and the officials once claimed for? If democracy claims equality, then the people ought to be regarded as equally criminal and heroic as the leaders.
Back to the specific topic of elections, a question is in order. The electorate usually expects miracles from their candidates within a single period of tenure, but implicitly vow to turn their back on the official when popular, out-ranged expectations are not met (and they usually are not). The reality of most Latin American nations is precisely that: the majorities in congresses and parliaments the continent over are of a political filiation differing from that of the president and at least part of their cabinet.
The question is this: What is the use of electing a right-wing president with a left-wing congress? How could a unionist mayor govern along with a conservative city council? This is the type of question the electorate does not even ponder on when considering all the candidates and alternatives in an election.
To a certain extent, the world has not overcome its monarchical, theocratic past (past?). The president, or the mayor, is widely perceived as almighty and able to make things happen with a snap of the fingers. But where is political process in this line of thought? Where is political process in the mindset of the voters when campaign ensues and proposals appear? If people do not understand the powers and limitations of the figure of the president, then why do they bother so much when electing officials?
Halfway between democracy and monarchy is dictatorship. Is that so evil, then? Historically dictatorships have fueled progress, both economic and social, during their rule. But propose this openly, and get ready for a volley of comments and roastings by public opinion.
People defend democracy to the point of using it to justify wars and invasions, but they clearly do not understand it.