Herald: The Tina Syndrome of Democracy

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May 04, 2022 | 05:24 IST

The Tina Syndrome of Democracy

The election is over. The government and the opposition are already installed. This may be a good time to reflect on the process as well as the system that gave us our government as well as the opposition. The process that has housed our legislature is democratic and constitutional. But perhaps we should ask ourselves the crucial question: have we really exploited it to the full? Maybe there is more democracy to come. To do this, we must come out of our Platonic caves and do the act of the mad Nietzsche. Plato tells us the parable of a cave where everyone was chained to the walls and enjoyed only shadow images. Perhaps we have reduced the scope or scope of the electoral process to a struggle of a few parties. There is a script on it. But maybe we like Pontius Pilate to think that what’s written is written and that’s the end.

Perhaps a stretching of our thinking or bending of our minds that we all must do as citizens will challenge us to leave the comfort of the Platonic caverns and embrace the courage of the mad man who comes with it. a lighted lantern and declare that the crippling electoral system and process are dead and we must breathe new life into them without undoing our democracy as well as our constitution. This means we are challenged to think outside the box that controls our minds and convinces us with limiting thinking that the playing field of the electoral process is the best we have established and seen in operation thus far. Here’s the catch. We believe that we have reached the climax of the electoral process and that there is no room for further progress. This position resonates with Francis Fukuyama who said history ended with the rise of democracy. This crippling belief makes us think there is no democracy to come and convinces us that there is no alternative to the form of democracy we have.

Now we are struck by those few parties that stir up our feelings for our nation, our religion and our fellow citizens and elections are held and we believe that we are done with the electoral process and established a democratically elected government. It is true that we have restarted our democracy, but is it only democracy? Is there no democracy to come?

Perhaps the closed field of the electoral process should be opened up. It forces us to deconstruct some of our beliefs that hold us captive and force us to submit to what we might call the TINA syndrome of democracy. TINA is the sense of closure in our mind that says there is no alternative. We are destined for the reigning condition and there is nothing we can do about it. The electoral process, which is limited to a few parties and people running as independent candidates, must be revisited. The electoral playing field must be opened to accommodate more actors. To do that, we may need to bust the myth that elections can’t be bought without bags of cash.

To manifest, let’s do a thought experiment. Let’s take a constituency and imagine the electoral field within it. Is it limited to three or five parties and some 11 or 12 people who have money and therefore will fight the election? Can we open the playground to bring in more players? What will happen if we have 50 to 200/500 hundred applicants? Perhaps we have the challenge of losing and not just winning to get the most out of our democratic process. Suppose we have 200 independent candidates, what will that do to the polling booths, the EVMs and the electoral process as well as the system? Perhaps the will of 200 hundred people who are ready to lose their deposits can also reveal the shortcomings of EVMs. Therefore, we have the challenge of becoming mad candidates who are willing to lose and save our democracy.

Perhaps the willpower of 200 people who feel like losing their deposits can also reveal the shortcomings of EVMs. Therefore, we have the challenge of becoming mad candidates who are willing to lose and save our democracy. There is more democracy to come. Are you ready to be the proverbial crazy man/woman? This can show us the flaws of EVMs as well as the need for moneybags to fight the election. We can go back to the ballot. This too will have to be a booklet. EVMs as they are today may not maintain the secrecy of the vote. Indeed, several of the electoral agents will be able to decode who will vote based on the location of the voter who must stand in front of the EVMs.

We can still break the secrecy of the vote. We can do it even in the current state. It does not require us to hack EVMs. What we need are fragrant fingers with a smart beat from the voters. We need to set up a few voters that we are willing to share who they are voting with. Put a strong message on their finger, cleverly place them in the voter queue, and then secretly feel the fingers of other known voters to determine if the person voted for the desired candidate.

Thus, there are ways to outwit the smart voting machine to destroy the secrecy of the vote. Therefore, we must agree that only a madman can manifest flaws in our crazy electoral system. Goa can show the way to our country. Are the Goans ready?

(Father Victor Ferrao is an independent scholar attached to St. Francis Xavier Church, Borim)

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