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Democracy Has To Be Democracy

11/11/2016 13:07
Emma Espejo via Getty Images

At the risk of sounding naive, privileged, and ungrateful that we live in a democratic country, I'm going to put it out there and say: I'm not too keen on the way democracy seems to be going... Brexit was a wake up call, a sting that numbed us into a state of shock; the months that have followed have left us confused, the pound weaker and with a new PM at the reins. But it seems the wake up call didn't quite make it stateside. And this next blow doesn't just hurt; this is like tearing off a limb.

I'm not American, but I have American friends. I'm not of a racial minority, but I have friends who are. I'm not gay, but I have plenty of friends who identify as LGBT. I'm not overtly religious, but I AM female. I'm well-educated and hard-working, determined and professional, but I can't change my sex - and, for the record, wouldn't want to. Regardless of my gender, my race, my religion, my sexual orientation, my life choices, my past, present or future, I AM HUMAN. And as a human, I am terrified of the unstable times ahead of us. As a human, I am fearful of the world we now live in. As a human, it scares me senseless to think what may be next. And as a human, regardless of all those "identifying" factors, I am not seeking to diminish peoples' right to have their voice heard. I am not condemning those who voted for Trump, nor those who voted to leave the EU. Your vote holds as much weight as mine; your choice is your choice. This post is not about that - my fear lies in the falsities that fuelled this result and ultimately, what's done is done.

On the morning of the 9th November, I woke up at 1.20am and saw that the "competition" was close - how very problematic it is to make such a massive responsibility into a game, how realistic, yet painfully wrong, it is to deem there winners and losers. Trump won and threw us first into silence and then, just as Brexit did, into disbelief; this parallel universe we must call home, this parallel universe we no longer feel we know. Having woken in the night, I slumbered blissfully until 7am, when I realised the tides had turned, all was not still to play for. By 9am, I was ready to complete my toddler like trance with a full-blown tantrum. Nevermind throwing the toys out the pram, I wanted to throw myself on the floor, kick and scream with frustration at how very small and insignificant and helpless I felt, until eventually, exhausted, I would reach for a blanket, hide underneath, be safe from the world, and return once more to my childlike naivety.

It didn't work like that. It couldn't work like that, because, at the end of the day - as Obama predicted - the sun did, indeed, rise this morning, regardless. It couldn't work like that because despite the game-like nature and the lies (beyond white I should add), and the play-pretend, this is real life and this is democracy. This is democracy and voices do count.

That said, the outpour of disapproval is overtaking social media - just as it did on 24th June. I've seen friends post saying that, as a female, finishing their degree and lumping themselves with a hefty sum of "debt" seems somewhat ludicrous when they're essentially now looking at a life of minimal opportunity and basic rights. I've seen the Independent post an article titled, "Congrats, America. You'd rather elect a man accused of child rape than a woman accused of mishandling her emails". And whilst, admittedly, both are somewhat hyperbolic and sensationalised - as is the way - they hold more than a tad of truth. These are not merely overly exaggerated, make-believe fears. These are real fears, held by real people, in our very real world. We're fearing the future and we're looking back to the past - the two cannot collide and our present day is the only link we have. This is our present day and how very terrifying that is. We're standing at a crossroad and we're hanging on by a thread; we're clinging desperately to years upon years of hard-work and negotiations that could be shattered in the blink of an eye.

Both Britain and America pride themselves on being two of the most technologically and economically advanced, as well as being two of the most socially progressive, compassionate, humane and FREE countries in the world: two of the most democratic countries the world has ever known. And we cannot lose that. We cannot forget that democracy has to be democracy. We cannot ignore the fact that what's done is done, what's decided is decided and that we had our individual say, but we must now be a united, DEMOCRATIC, country once more. Through instability, turmoil, challenged decisions and frankly ridiculous ones, through fallout and walkout, new footfall and closed doors, democracy still stands. Democracy as a rule must overrule, because a majority is a majority, no matter how marginal. And as society questions, "what next?" all I think anyone can do right now is sit-tight (and I'm saying that with no political expertise, and, well, as a woman, but more so, as a human, living in the real world, living through such uncertain times). Ultimately, we must remember that perhaps the only thing worse than the rocky ride upon which we are currently buckling our seatbelts would be the total collapse of democracy.

Perhaps the saddest failing of our democracy lies with those who did not speak up, those who did not vote one way or another. Both with Brexit and now with Trump, the stats prove that if the younger generation had voted, the result may well have been very different indeed, but then hindsight is a wonderful thing...and this is the real world. Maybe we should look at why those due to be most affected by the extent of these decisions are so adamant that their voice is irrelevant. Put it down to education or privilege, disillusionment or targeted propaganda, voting is a choice, and should remain so, but what happens when voices are not spoken? In terms of the US election, I cannot help but feel that those who did not turn out did so in direct response to the options available. Given the treacherous and brutal electoral campaigns, neither Trump, nor Clinton exactly shone in golden light. And is it really democracy if people didn't vote because they felt unable to support either candidate? Surely there should be an option to vote neither, to support neither?

Despise Brexit and detest Trump, but despite the decision, democracy must stand tall and strong and rooted. If it didn't? If the powers-that-be caved and said the Brexit "majority leave" was not a strong enough majority and a re-vote must seal the deal, democracy would fail. The result may well be different, but democracy would be challenged in a way many will never forget and refuse to forgive. The consequences of that could be more catastrophic than anything we have ever known, read or heard. A world without choice and freedom of speech is more terrifying than a world with a voice to whom we, in our millions, are wary.

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