Voters – The Strength of a Democracy – Can Also Be Its Weakness

Many who have been decorated and rewarded for their “outstanding” contribution in the field of Journalism are not just reporters of facts and information but also commentators, critiques, strategists, spin-doctors and masters of “networks of (dis)information.”

The criminal-politician nexus of yester years, which has been a menace for our democracy of illiterate voters, seems to be getting replaced by a new nexus of business-politician-journalist nexus which is more menacing with literate voters.

Politicians always seek good media coverage and many voters are influenced by such coverage. Some politicians even negotiate good coverage ahead of the voting. That is why they have press secretaries and media advisors.

Can a statute be drafted by the parliament which makes positive media coverage the “quid” or “quo” necessary for a conviction of a legislator for bribery?

Can the legislators not use their power over framing of policy and statute for political, partisan or even personal advantage? What would constitute a criminal abuse of their legislative and executive power, as distinguished from a political or moral abuse….?

The central aspect of the rule of law is that no one may be investigated, prosecuted or impeached unless his conduct violates pre-existing and unambiguous prohibitions. Neither the parliament nor the prosecutors can make it up as they go along, because they, too, are not above the law.

Politicians can be convicted if they are found guilty of the crimes specified in the Constitution, namely, “treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanours.” It is simply not a crime for a law-maker to use his power over policy-making for political, partisan or even personal advantage.

Political leaders in power have even engaged in military and police actions for political gain. They have given aid to foreign countries and lobby groups to help themselves get elected. They have appointed ambassadors and bureaucrats based not on competence but on past and anticipated future political contributions. None of these has ever been deemed criminal.

Neither the parliament nor the prosecutors can seek to criminalise the exercise of a legislator’s power over framing of policy and statute on the ground that they do not like the way he used it or even if he abused it.

Do democracies need voters who are literate, informed and knowledgeable?

May be! May be not!!

For sure, democracies need voters who can rise above some mean self-interest and seek an enlightened self-interest within the national interest. Democracies need voters who have the wisdom to discern the good from the bad.

People acquire wisdom in many ways; but wisdom cannot be taught.


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To ensure the quality of the discussion, comments may be edited for clarity, length, and relevance. Comments that are overly promotional, mean-spirited, or off-topic may be deleted.

Published by

Mukul Gupta

*Educator, researcher, author and a friendly contrarian* Professor@MDIGurgaon

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