Democracy means that the people hold power and exercise rule, but as Joseph Schumpeter maintained, electoral democracy as practiced in Western nations, in particular Canada, is in reality the rule of the politician.
This week brought home to me how far we are from being a democratic state on two fronts. The first is the extension of the mission in Afghanistan without the approval of Parliament, and the second is the continued refusal of the Charest government to hold a public inquiry into the construction industry in Quebec.
In both instances, professional politicians make the decision on behalf of the population, and in both instances those making the decisions have the support of approximately 25% of the electorate.
What I also observe is that the majority of Canadians, including Quebecers, are more than OK with allowing professional politicians to make the major decisions, regardless of the lack of democratic legitimacy in the process.
In fact, the population is only called upon sporadically (once every four years) to lend some semblance of democratic legitimacy to our system of governance, but looking at the plummeting participation rates during general elections, it appears that in the near future the majority of Canadians couldn't even be bothered to show up to the polls in order to decide who will govern.
It has occurred to me that I'm living in a land largely populated by drones. By this I mean that life for most Canadians consists of, for the most part, fulfilling some occupational function which affords them some low grade honey that makes life bearable. Sure, there are some bumble bees in the land that are able to take flight into the realm of ideas, make discoveries, get excited and return to the hum drum of the hive only to find that not only are the drones profoundly uninterested but that given the choice of being a drone or a bumble bee, almost all the drones are quite content with their lot and would spurn the offer of becoming a thinker bumble bee.
Professional politicians are like beekeepers. Their job is to keep the hive happy and productive, and they do this by making sure that the bumble bees never get the rest of the hive buzzing with excitement with the thought that the bees could swarm and effectively move the hive elsewhere.
They know all to well that the only dangerous mob is a hungry mob and that we are amongst the fattest on the earth.