Democracy versus Debate.

Why do the Media & Politicians Keep Getting in the way of Democracy?

I have resisted writing about this subject for a while in the apparently vain hope that the TV broadcasters and our national politicians would come to their senses and produce a constructive series of televised debates.

It seems this is a forlorn hope. Who are the losers in this sad spectacle of ‘to debate or not debate, that is the question’? We, the people, the electorate, are.

While the media strut their ‘independence and freedom of the press’ (which is a good thing if it is done in the name of the people rather than the media’s ratings/pride), and the politicians put their quest for power ahead of their obligation to promote a fully engaged democracy, it is the electorate that lose out.

It seems that the politicians really don’t believe we understand that a series of political debates should not be the only basis on which we choose which box to tick.

It seems the TV executives believe it is more important for them to appear to be strong and politically agnostic in the face of political pressure, than for the politicians to appear on the box.

Meanwhile, membership of political parties of all colours plummets to all time lows.

Constituents lose interest and become disengaged with the political process.

Fewer and fewer people care to vote.

Protest parties that represent extremes flourish.

Political leadership is about taking people with you, not just expecting them to follow.

How can people follow an empty podium? Why should voters bother to tune in to a media that uses the ‘privilege of principle’ to avoid the public spectacle of a ‘people’s forum’?

Politicians – trust the people to see through the artefact of a televised debate to distinguish hype from substance.

Broadcasters – put your principles to one side to find a compromise that gives the people who pay your TV licence and your advertisers what they want – a representative debate.

Ultimately the real loser if neither party finds a way to put pragmatism ahead of principle will be democracy.

And if democracy fails, neither the media nor politicians do well.

And we, the people, are the people who suffer the most.