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Monday, April 12, 2010

Democracy How?!?

I'm tired of keeping my thoughts on the recent unpleasantness under wraps. A few of you have asked about the current situation in Thailand and, after observing for quite a while, I have a few, albeit rhetorical, questions for those who say they want democracy: What exactly is your definition of "democracy"? Are angry mobs making impossible demands really a demonstration of democracy? Do you represent the majority of Thailand's voters? If an election is held tomorrow, as you demand, will you actually vote without being paid to do so? If the former prime minister whose ouster you condemn would lose the election, would you be satisfied?

Being raised in a country that prides itself on its democratic institutions (but in actuality is a republic), I feel I can ask these questions. Our so-called "democracy" is far from perfect, and I am critical of it, but it is an institution that is based on the rule of law, not of mobs holding a city hostage for weeks on end. It took time to evolve and continues to do so. For Thailand to become democratic will also require an institutional foundation that begins with a basic education and understanding by the population of civics and the rule of law. Until that happens there will continue to be petty tyrants manipulating the population for their purposes. It saddens me to say that from this vantage point, this tunnel is long and there is no light at the end.