Democracy’s Missing Business Case

There are overall proponents and opponents to any system of social representation in national governance. I am not getting into that.

Over many years I have come across many arguments, all good ones, in support of voting. I also agree, if you are in a democratic environment, then you should vote to select a candidate for an office.

Here’s my drill-down on the problem as I see it.

  1. There are candidates for an office.
  2. The candidates have an agenda, a manifesto.
  3. They reach out and try to convince the people on why they are the right choice.
  4. On voting day, the people go out to their designated centers and submit a secret ballot. (Yes for their favorite Candidate)
  5. The ballot is counted and the winner declared.

We all know how this works. It’s wonderfully simple, but a nightmare to organize and maintain a high quality of vote.

Generally the voting is structured to allow for selecting one of the given candidates. I strongly believe that there should also be an abstain option (non-of-the-above). This option is a direct reflection on the confidence in the candidates.

Sometime ago in Pakistan, we had our Prime Minister walking into office with a 2/3 majority win. That’s like wow! Never heard of such land-slide wins. What no body bothered to mention that the voter turn out was the lowest ever. The opposition supporters had lost faith in their candidate, though strongly believed in their agenda, so did not show up on voting day.

Putting this in business perspective:

I am a stakeholder in a large organization which has interests across the industrial verticals. It is a huge organization. I am interested in hiring a president and vice president for this company. What I will do is:

  1. Set job description
  2. Set qualifications and pre-requisite experience
  3. Post the job opening on the job sites and set a apply before date
  4. Wait for resumes and filter them, short list them, send out invitations for interviews
  5. Maybe have multiple rounds of interviews and a test or two
  6. Finally, award the job to the “BEST” candidate

In case through this process, I do not feel that I’ve found an appropriate resource, I’ll put out a second round of ad(s) and go through the process till I find someone who is the absolute “BEST” resource for the position.

Now, if this was a daily run-o-the-mill organization, it’s totally understandable, we as stakeholders need to keep an eye on the ROI, profitability, growth of the organization, we’ll go through the due dilligence and detailed analysis of every person, verify the education, past employers, recommendations, achievments and skills.

This brings me to the missing use case in democracy.

Standard Business Case: Select only one of the candidates listed.

This assumes that I have some level of confidence in the capabilities and potential of all the candidates. What happens when I actually do not have that confidence. I feel that all the candidates put forward are actually not up to my expectations and the job’s expectations. What do I do then? Do I check all of them, which I’m not allowed to? Do I leave it blank, this is equivalent to me not showing up? Or do I tell the electorial board that, I came and deliberately am saying that all these candidates are not up to the mark?

So, the candidates will get disqualified for this round of “employment” if no-show-voters + abstain-count > 50% (just pulling a number).

In a situation when 40% of the voting population shows  up, and then the winner claims 2/3 majority, land-slide win. It is incorrect and improper implementation of equal representation.


Democracy — What?

What is this thing called Democracy?

The Wikipedia page on Democracy starts off by saying “Democracy is a form of government in which power is held by people under a free electoral system.”

According to the one of the definition (meaning) of Democracy on the Merrium-Webster web site:

Democracy is a government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections.

This definition identifies a form of power that is supreme, also identifies that this power is vested in the people. My first question is what kind of power is this? And, if this has been vested in the people then what does it allow the said people to do? Following the identification of power and where it is vested, there is an indication of the ability to “directly or indirectly” exercising it. Equally important is the reference to a “system of representation” and “periodically held free elections”.

All these fancy words are all pretty and all. but, does this not imply that these so called people should have some form of vision.

In my opinion, the ability to first of all have a vision, above and beyond the self, and on top of that, realizing their own capability of making their vision a reality. I think there are two things here that are directly relevant, 1) literacy, and 2) education. These two may at times are considered as the same thing, however, I have come to realize that these two, however related, have slightly different meaning, it may be just a matter of a shade of difference, but the difference is definitely there.

In short I think an illiterate person may be educated however, and a literate person may be uneducated.

If a person is educated, then they have the ability to effectively take part in this thing called — drum roll — Democracy.

In Pakistan, we all speak of literacy rates, and how they are improving. However, I know as a fact that these rates are cooked up. It defines a person to be literate if he or she can read or write their own name. That’s about all that is actually needed to sign legal document, or identify themselves. What more is needed in life? Really?

I hope the sarcasam was not too thick to read through.

Please someone explain something to me. I am totally up to here (slashing sign with my hand near my neck) with trying to figure this one out.

How does this so called brilliant thing called Democracy work in a culture where:

  1. A strong unspoken feudal system is still prevalent.
  2. The executive arm of the law are on the beck and call of their feudal masters.
  3. The law makers and definers are exceptional at protecting their feudal masters.
  4. The majority of the population is indebted to their feudal masters for “favors done onto their ancestors”.

Please explain, why in this democratic country, no one has actually worked towards education of the nation? The simple answer is that, education, leads to awareness, awareness leads to, well, the ability to be more than mere slaves. Education empowers the people to be aware of their rights, which is counter productive to the machinery that is the feudal system.