Towards a more enlightened and active democracy..?

I suspect and indeed would hope that NILGA’s new local government awards are inspired by our own critically successful Slugger Awards. They already have 90 nominees for the eight awards on offer. Anything that deepens the quality and committment of representative democracy has to be a good thing. In continuing our spotlight on Councillors we are trying to do the one thing that’s usually relegated to last place in Irish politics north and south: the continuing engagement between citizens and their electorate between elections. Chris Dillow mines the John Sergeant incident for at least one serious piece of insight into that area from Alexis de Tocqueville:

A man of the people, when asked to share the task of governing society, acquires a certain self-esteem…He may not be more virtuous or happier than his forebears, but he is more enlightened and active… Democracy does nor provide a people with the most skilful of governments, but it does that which the most skilful government often cannot do; it spreads throughout the body social a restless activity, superabundant force, and energy never found elsewhere, which, however little favoured by circumstance, can do wonders. Those are its true advantages.

It’s certainly not what Slugger set out to do, but if we help spread “throughout the body social a restless activity, superabundant force, and energy never found elsewhere, which, however little favoured by circumstance, can do wonders” that would fine with me…

  • “Anything that deepens the quality and committment of representative democracy has to be a good thing.”

    Mick, as you know, I and others have been maintaining the spotlight on the Rathlin ferry fiasco.

    We’ve worked ‘in tandem’ with politicians from different parties and none; it’s been very noticeable how local councillors in Moyle have been left out of the process.

    MLAs have to deal with a flood of information so they appreciate background briefings on matters of concern that do not lie within their own sphere of knowledge.

    I’m sure they’d appreciate greater ‘restless activity’ from the MSM and bloggers when it comes to this and other fiascos.

  • truth

    jealousy on the part of slugger!!!

    You are not the only show in town as your small very unrepresentative band of internet warriors presume!

    lol

  • Ann

    My reading of it is that the institution shapes the people , in effect people are becoming institutionalised which in turn creates a barrier between those on the inside and those on the outside of the institution. Whether it be the BBC or Westminister, and that this in turn has created a cut off between political representatives and those they represent.

    Like many’s a licence payer who feels the BBC does not recognise their views, or that it is too London centred, it is the same with Politics whether it be Westminister or Stormont. Most of us do not feel represented by those we elect, we feel no matter what we say it won’t make a difference.

    Take the proposed law on prostitution that the government want to bring out. The law they propose is based on ‘knowing’, so if a man has sex with a trafficked woman knowingly he can be charged with rape. How can that law be enforced, the defense that springs quickly to mind is for the man to say, ‘I didn’t know’, which in turn makes the law into an ass.

    How many unenforceable laws are out there? We are over regulated and over represented, four seats of power within the UK is too many. 108 representatives for NI alone. Yet they still can’t enthuse society or get voters out when needed. Nor can they get the laws to do actually what they were designed to do.

    Is this because people vote not for the best people or the most skillfull, but for parties they think will do something for the voters own self interest. Really it all depends upon what lies at the root of voting patterns. IF it is mere self interest then nothing will change, if one votes for the greater good then something will change. To date I don’t know anyone who votes for the greater good, but most of us vote for our own self interest, or group interest. That is why we have the politicians we do.

    Nothing will change that, becase human behaviour is programmed to look after the ‘me’, rather than the ‘all’.

    I would like to see some of that restless activity. I do not believe it exsists and for confirmation of this we need look no further than the poor turn out in all our elections, whether Britain Ireland, or N Ireland. We only turn out to get what we want, and if theres nothing in it for us we don’t bother.

    throughout the body social a restless activity, superabundant force, and energy never found elsewhere, which, however little favoured by circumstance, can do wonders”

    Good luck, but they’ll not spread much unless they’re around to enthuse – they need to get marked present first and foremost. Nice ideals though.