Roughan: “Democracy gets it wrong”

There is almost a physical sensation of pain when I see apparently intelligent grown-ups claim that Democracy is “broken” or “wrong” when it doesn’t go their way. ? It shows they have a fundamental problem understanding the process.

The amazing thing about democracy, when you stop to think about, is that it makes the right decision far more often than not. When you consider how slender the margin is, usually, between millions of votes on both sides, it is remarkable that the result does not go the wrong way more often.

When it does, the sun comes up next morning, stockmarkets bounce back, life goes on and soon it becomes hard to imagine history could have taken any other course. But damage is being done, a deteriorating economy is not suddenly apparent on stock or currency markets. So long as they see where things are heading traders can make money whether the direction is upward or downward for the country.

The damage done by the voters’ decision is more immediately apparent in the change that comes over the spirit and soul of a nation. The dark and ugly underside of public opinion comes to the fore, righteous and newly confident that it speaks for the country.

Liberalism takes a battering and, in its liberalism, tries to understand and respect the views now prevailing, or at least attribute them to social inequities.

Oh please. ?Liberalism crawls into a corner, cries foul and externalises all the blame for not getting its way. ?

Many of my generation went overseas during the Muldoon years. It was not a proud or invigorating time to be in New Zealand. African nations boycotted an Olympic Games over us and few here noticed or cared.

But there were no demonstrations in the streets against the election result. Young, liberal and educated people were not as distraught as they are today in America and the world over.

We have never seen politics take a turn like this before, never seen voters elect someone like this whose entertaining bluster and ignorance belongs in a bar or a radio station, not power. America is not just divided, it is devastated. Like Brexit, this wasn’t supposed to happen. There is madness afoot. For the sake of sanity people we will need to remember over the next four years, Hillary got more votes.

? By happy coincidence I’m taking leave to have a look at South America. I’ll be back in December.

The petulance is breathtaking.

During the Helen Clark years, centre right voters felt it was never going to end. ?We didn’t like it, and many did indeed look for greener pastures overseas.

But the right never blamed the electorate. ?It never blamed the system. ?It looked at itself, sorted out the problems, and then came back and presented a better choice that the electorate did want.

Did want, still wants, and by all signs and measures, is going to continue to vote for.


– John Roughan, NZ Herald