Friday, January 27, 2012

Blog #2: AP Debate: Democracy this century struggles to keep up; new media keeps leaders on their toes

This past Thursday the Associated Press held a debate on democracy at the World Economic Forum. Leaders from Tunisia, Brazil , Pakistan, the United States, and a representative of Human Rights Watch discussed the big question, "Is democracy up to the challenge of the 21st century?" They discussed the economic challenges plaguing democratic countries, the growing involvement of Islam, and the need for new democratic countries to catch up with the already developed countries. The leaders wrestled with how democracy is working in other countries. They all seemed to agree on the fact that the ideal western democracy is still the best option for other countries in the world. Human Rights Watch representative Kenneth Roth singled out countries who claim to be democratic but don't stand up for other countries who are struggling to achieve the same goal. He was quick to point out that Pakistan has been a culprit of practicing this. He mentions that many times Pakistan does not vote at the United Nations unless Israel is involved some how. Roth called for other democratic governments to put pressure on countries like Syria in order to help out the pro-democratic protesters being so harshly persecuted. The Brazilian prime minister was quick to interject that war was not the answer to the democratic shortcomings. 

The greatest problem with democracy in today's time is that we struggle with practicing the true form of the system. Instead of giving true democracy to all we are only concerned with ourselves. A growing phenomena in the United States is a fight between the wealthy elite in the government and it seems that we are covering up partisanship with the title of democracy. I agree with the debaters that democratic countries need to stick up for other countries genuinely striving for democracy. Out of all the government systems, monarchy, oligarchy, and dictatorship, democracy makes the most sense. I feel we need to also remember that America did not achieve democracy over night and without blood shed. Our country went 100 years with slavery and did not give women the right to vote until the 20th century. In some ways young democracies are ahead of America in these particular rights. I feel that the Brazilian Prime Minister also needs to remember that america fought a risky and bloody war to gain independence and establish a democratic government. There is a place for force and a place for negotiation. I feel that even America could benefit from a meritocracy style of leadership. Democracy is not having economic success because our capitalist system has lead to a global economy that is more concerned with the elite than the plebeians. A true democracy that has leaders that are more concerned about their people than their own status is what the world needs.

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