Many forms of Government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.…
This is a quote from Sir Winston Churchill, spoken in the House of Commons, 11 November 1947.
The 19th and 20th century was the time of the rise of the democracy all over the world. It started in what is now know as ‘Western Countries’. The French Revolution was a failed attempt to introduce democracy. It ended in Napoleon crowning himself emperor over France. A few decades before that, another attempt to introduce democracy was more successful. After the war of independence, the United States of America became the great example of Democracy for the world.
The year 1848 is well known in Europe as the year in which many countries put some important steps on the way to democracy. Many rulers (kings) were forced to allow more influence from the people.
The Present State of Democracy
How is the situation now, after two centuries? Is Democracy the shining example of good government all over the world? Is this the ideal of the entire mankind? If we look at the state of government in many western countries and take note of the growing discontent in many democracies about their governments, it is hard not to believe that this is far from the truth.
It is all over the news that our government in Canberra (Australia) is a mess, at the moment. Whatever your thoughts may be about this assessment of the media (and granted, much of it depends on your own bias), it cannot be denied that the government under Prime Minister M. Turnbull, is struggling. First the citizenship issue, then the division about how to legalise Same Sex Marriage, and lately the stinging rebuke of the coalition in the State elections in Queensland, in addition to the constant sniping going on in the liberal party by several MPs and senators against their leader, Mr. Turnbull. People have become cynical about the ability of the government to rule this country.
Australia is not the only country struggling with its form of government. In the United States, Congress was paralyzed for many years, because Republicans and Democrats often refused to cooperate and get things done. It was made worse by a belligerent president Obama who eagerly resorted to his ‘pen and phone’ government by presidential decrees. This resulted in the American electorate supporting an outsider, Donald Trump, for president. His slogan was and is: Make America Great Again. This implies that America is not great at the moment. Apparently, that is the feeling of a large part of the electorate in the USA.
In Canada, two years ago, Mr. Justin Trudeay rode a wave of discontentment especially among leftist voters with the electoral system and he was elected on the promise that this election would be the last one according the ‘first past the post’ system. He was going to appoint a committee that had to come up with a proposal for another system of election. Cynically, the intention was that this committee would propose his preference: the preferential vote, as it is in use in Australia. The committee was going to hear the people, but it seemed as if the outcome was already determined. This created such a backlash among the people that Mr. Trudeau had to abandon his attempt and just gave up on it. Another promise broken.
The Netherlands, which uses proportional representation, for the longest time was used to a two or three party government. This made it necessary for those parties who formed the government, to constantly negotiate and work out compromises. However, in the past fifteen t twenty years we see an increasing discontent among the voters, which led to the one new party after the other. Many of those parties were more or less successful in cashing in on the discontent. The larger parties lost a lot of votes, and after the latest election (in March of this year) there are now at least four parties needed to form a government. The formation process took about a half year, the longest in the Dutch history.
In Germany, already two months after the elections, Ms. Angela Merkel is still trying desperately to form a government. Where in the past usually one party had a majority or sometimes needed one other party to form a government, there over the past several years that situation has changed as well. In 2013, Ms. Merkel was still able to form a government between CDU/CSU and SDP, the two major parties. However, both parties lost, the SDP even dramatically, in the last elections and the SDP refuses to be part of the government. The result is that now at least three parties are needed for a coalition. The problem is that the two other parties, besides the CDU/CSU, have sometimes diametrically opposed goals in their election platforms and are not willing to give that up.
More countries can be mentioned where in the past couple of years things happened which do not increase the confidence of the people in the ability of the Democracy to deal with major problems. We can think of France, Belgium, Greece, and more.
While Democracy is floundering in many western countries, we see the largest countries on this earth going in the direction of more centrally led governments, and the rise of strong men as leaders. China, the most populous country on earth, more or less appointed the party leader Xi Jinping as uncrowned emperor. Russia, the largest country on earth in landmass, is for many years already governed by Putin, the former head of the KGB.
Why is it that Democracy seems to be failing and on its way out? What went wrong?
It is too easy to say that Democracy allows for disagreements and therefore it only seems as if Democracy makes countries weaker. For almost two centuries, many western countries have been governing themselves through democracy and those countries were strong. Democracy did work for a long time. Why does it not work anymore now? What have we lost in the past few decades? What should change to make it work again?
Democracy did work, a century ago. It were the democratic countries which fought and defeated totalitarian regimes like that of Hitler. Democracy did work in the eighties, when the world was struggling with a deep economic crisis and governments needed to take drastic decisions to get the economies back on track. It worked, under Reagan and Thatcher, when the Cold War was won, and the Berlin Wall as well as the Iron Curtain came tumbling down, followed by the collapse of the totalitarian state of the Soviet Union.
Then the Western world entered what was considered to be another ‘Golden Age’, during the nineties. Economists thought we had been able to break the constant cycle of economic growth followed by recession. The nineties was the time of long lasting economic growth, and for several countries of government surpluses. The only two annual surpluses of the Government finances in the USA after the Second World War were in the nineties.
This almost unlimited economic growth allowed for an equally almost unlimited growth of personal freedoms. Already from the time of the enlightenment a slow process had been going on in which Western nations more and more turned away from God, many left the church and God’s commandments were either ignored or openly pushed aside. It was a slow process and didn’t happen in a straight line. From time to time there was a return. However, this process started speeding up with the growth of economic prosperity. It slowed down whenever the economy required the attention of governments, more than legalizing all kinds of sinful desires among the people.
In the seventies, abortion was either legalized or by default (through Supreme Court decisions) allowed. Many laws dealing with sexual ‘transgressions’ had already been abolished in the sixties (‘what happens in the bedroom is not the governments business’) and what was left of it in the seventies. The eighties were characterized as a difficult time, economically, which slowed down the moral decay of many western countries, and strong governments were needed to deal with the many problems.
During the nineties things started to change really rapidly. President Clinton, who is generally known for his sexual escapades with Monica Lewinsky, set the tone. Strong leaders were no longer desired, were even loathed. It was the time of the unbridled freedoms. It was also the time of growing divisions in Western nations. After Mr. Clinton, Mr. George W. Bush became president and in his time he was considered to be one of the most divisive presidents in the USA. After he retired, it appeared that it was not Mr. Bush who was divisive, but it were the people of the USA themselves who were divided and caused divisions. The people got the government they deserved. After George W. Bush the USA got another, even more divisive president: Barack H. Obama. Congress was paralyzed. After he pushed his signature Health Care Bill through congress, the Democrats lost their majority in congress and the last six years of his presidency Obama was more or less a lame duck and Congress was just as paralyzed. Nothing got done. This led to the election of President Donald Trump, a year ago. In the meantime many activists used the courts to impose their ‘progressive’ or ‘enlightened’ lifestyle on the nation.
Many Western countries followed the same path. Wherever activists were not able to reach their goal through parliament, they worked their way through the courts.
Much more can be said. I won’t do it here. Maybe in another article in due time. However, it all comes down to a few conclusions which we can draw, when we evaluate the course of history of modern democracy.
My first conclusion is that as long as there is a healthy respect for the government, democracy can work well. People voluntarily abide by the rules, fraud and other forms of crime is being frowned upon and there is to a certain extent the peer pressure which makes democracy work.
My second conclusion is that as long as God’s commandments are respected among the people, there is a good basis for democracy. We believe that God’s commandments are good and are a blessing for those who abide by them (even for unbelievers although ultimately they cannot save the unbeliever). We see, that especially in the past two decades God’s commandments have been put aside with increasing speed, which resulted in an increase of selfishness and loss of peer pressure. There was no common notice anymore of what was ‘not done’. People did their own thing, and part of it was cheating, fraud, deception. For a government to effectively deal with it, we will have to move to a ‘Big brother is watching you’ situation. Instances in which the government was implementing such a situation (like the NSA in the USA, the wire-taps, the security at airports, increasing powers for security agencies, etc.) led to growing unrest and protest among the people.
My third conclusion is, that the legalizing of Same Sex Marriage has brought the Western world into the final stage of decay and corruption. Paul mentions this lifestyle as the ultimate result of a certain attitude in which people don’t want to be governed by God’s commandments anymore. They suppress the truth of God’s Word. They follow their own ‘righteousness’, which the Bible says is ‘unrighteousness’. We see in our Australian situation that the whole debate about Same Sex Marriage has been the most divisive issue in Australian modern history. We can see in other countries which went ahead of us in legalizing Same Sex Marriage, that this is the beginning of persecution for those who openly speak against it. Freedoms of churches, clergy, school boards, teachers, parents to act according to their conscience, are being taken away. And this will continue.
how will this end?
How will this end? We don’t know. Only God knows. But I believe that the writing is on the wall: ‘MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN’ (Daniel 5:25), which means that God has numbered the kingdom of the western democratic world, has weighed it in the balances and found it wanting, and God has decided to give this kingdom to another. I believe that the time of the supremacy of the western world has come to an end. How it will end? Maybe in a third world war, with China or Russia or another totalitarian state as the winner. Maybe an economic collapse of the USA and with that many western economies, with as result that China or India or another country will take over the world hegemony. Maybe in a different way. Maybe also, the Lord will come back in glory on the clouds of heaven.
Whatever way it will be, God rules.
He Who sits in the heavens shall laugh;
The Lord shall hold them in derision.
Then He shall speak to them in His wrath,
And distress them in HIs deep displeasure:
“Yet I have set My King
On My holy hill of Zion.”