Poverty and ignorance: worst enemies of democracy
The term democracy is derived from two Greek words, “demos” (common people), and “kratos” (rule). It is literally and commonly defined as “the rule of the people.” But in essence and in fact, democracy does not mean and should not be understood as the rule of the people. Instead, it essentially indicates not the rule of the people but the role of the people as the electorate in a democratic form of government.
In other words, the people do not actually rule. They only elect. Thus the importance of truly qualified and relatively educated voters, who can vote intelligently and freely without fear and the pressure of poverty.
Nonetheless, in light of the above, all authority still emanates from the people because the power of the elected ruler or group of rulers is ultimately derived from the authority of the people.
The worst enemies of democracy are poverty and ignorance, that, if rampant among the vast majority of the electorate, can make democracy itself as the worst form of government. In other words, the people must be free from dire poverty and ignorance to be able to elect only competent and qualified leaders. Otherwise, voters, by force of circumstance, are easily tempted to sell their votes, and the candidates run for public office for power and more wealth for themselves and their respective families, thereby resulting in public service being deformed into self-service.
AMAY P. ONG VAÑO,
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