Unlike the far-reaching Athenian direct-democracy (508 until 322 BCE) where people had a direct say and influence on the decision-making affairs of the city-state, the noble principle of direct democracy worked fairly well– amidst its own flaws and failures! In contrast to autocracy, archon rule and especially the tyrannical rule of the times, democracy was a godsend – although short-lived. The introduction of democratic rule by Solon in Athens was indeed revolutionary for that era and had quickly spread to other parts of the Hellenic world. Citizens took direct interest in the affairs of the state and those that chose to abstain from voting, were shunned by all others – not so different today!
Exercising their democratic right Greek citizens voted directly on legislation and executive power by casting a ballot of “Yes” or “No” (White or Black lot). In fact citizens had the power to reject the entire assembly (government) and start anew. Unlike modern democracy the privileged Athenian officials elected, were held accountable for their actions and could be removed from office for wrong doing at any time the assembly met. Their respectable status could easily turn into public humiliation and they could face imprisonment and in extreme cases the death penalty. If the accused were found guilty of stealing money from the state, the embezzled sums were recovered from their own estates by confiscation. Hence, assembly elections in general favoured the aristocratic class where wealth was virtually a prerequisite on the presumption that the “rich had no need to steal!”
Modern democracy throughout the years has been twisted, manipulated and diluted by political systems designed to accommodate political-party ideologies in a society of equals and unequal alike. A system that refuses citizens the right to cast a “No” protest vote at the ballot box reveals nothing less than flawed-democracy; one that gradually leads into “elected dictatorship” set on a fertile breeding ground of corruption.
It is well established that the ideal principle of “majority rule” has become a springboard to authoritarianism and autocracy. Effectively, countries under the presidential system– versus parliamentary system– seem more susceptible to breed authoritarian autocrats; too much power is vested into the hands of a president! This system undermines the basic fabric of a majority rule of a government, “by the people for the people!”
Adolf Hitler is a prime example how one single person has used the principle of “majority-rule” in a democracy to be elected and ultimately become one of the most notorious dictators of all times. Turkey’s new despot Sultan Recep Tayyip Erdogan, deployed the same tactic using Islam and the army to name himself “president-for-life”; Saddam Hussein of Syria, Joseph Stalin of Russia and other notorious dictators executed their own people without mercy to stay in power.
The one nation that remained unscathed and prides itself for an inspiring democracy based on equality and freedom is the United States of America. It is certainly not perfect by any means and yet, many look to the American way of life and liberty as the one political system to aspire for. Still, it took a wealthy wheeler-dealer businessman to subvert an entire nation and possibly create constitutional chaos for years to come.
Donald Trump’s Republican election win to the White House four years ago, offered hope for a better America. Those aspirations never materialised. Instead, the unveiling of a darker facade in Trump’s character soon emerged.
Under his leadership, the country soon imploded into self-isolationism and uncalled for nationalism. The self-praising President had become the centre of attention and his every word “tweeting“ on social media had become gospel for many of his staunch supporters.
In fact, Trump’s tactics impaired the nation’s reputation and has created social and political turmoil never experienced before his presidency.
Having tasted an unparalleled global esteem provided by one of the most powerful countries in the world, a defeated US President now stubbornly refuses to concede on abandoning his privileged status as a world leader.
But, at precisely one minute after twelve-noon on 20 January, he will no longer be a President but a plain American citizen. No longer shielded by “political immunity” he could be faced with a barrage of prosecutions for incitement and his uncalled for ludicrous conduct while at the White House.
Never before in American history, have voters have experienced such nonsensical and irrational bullying tactics by an incumbent President. His actions and erratic behaviour openly reveal the inner makings of a future despot! Most disgraced dictators and strongmen when faced with such a predicament, choose to flee the country in darkness and live abroad where the long arm of the law cannot reach them.
Not so Mr Trump! Unrepentantly, he is using all sorts of tactics to overturn Joe Biden’s election win of 306 electoral college votes and popular vote, to his 232 votes. He refuses to swallow the bitter pill of truth and accept the inevitable with dignity. His repudiation of the overwhelming wishes of the people now threatens the basic fabric of American democracy.
In the battle to reverse the election results, Mr Trump recruited a horde of sleek solicitors headed by his good old friends Rudy Giuliani, ex-Mayor of New York to challenge the outcome of the current vote results across the country. Each time they bring a legal case to the courts, it’s thrown out in humiliation.
Yet, as a defeated President, Mr Trump arrogantly continues to resist transferring the presidency to his successor on the misconception that somehow a miracle will happen in his favour. Arrogantly, he does not waste a single moment to publicly lambast the Democrats and President-elect Joe Biden in rallies for “stealing his presidency”. With sheer stubbornness or stupidity, he is in fact challenging the American Constitution so he can hang on to power with his teeth and nails!
Still, millions of Republicans are convinced by Trump’s unfounded accusations that the Democrats rigged the elections against him and will hear nothing to the contrary but to see the election results overturned. Seventy-four million Trump supporters are a powerful force and demand to see their Republican President back to the White House irrespective of losing the election.
Under the current political turmoil, those millions of “sour losers” could bring about serious concerns for the future. Should the disenfranchised Trump followers turn rebellious, they could destabilise the political structure and shake up the very roots of democracy in America! A dilemma for American sanity indeed!
The present-day rhetorical chaos can be attributed directly on the President’s irrational conduct, lies and faked news and misinformation encouraged by his own distorted view of reality! A president that refuses to recognise that nearly 300,000 American citizens have lost their lives to COVID-19 means that he lives in another world and not in America where 15 million citizens have already being effected!
America and its institutions are being tested like never before; would democracy come out stronger once the transition dust settles, or would Trump’s shenanigans raise the antics and cause division between individual states and Washington? The decision is not out yet but one can be assured that the present signs don’t look so promising for stability and cooperation. More likely, things will never be the same again in American politics!
Andreas C Chrysafis is a UK-published author of five books and an artist.