Thirty-six hours ago, the citizens of the U.K. voted, through referendum, to leave the E.U. The decision plummeted the markets, toppled PM Cameron, and reeled foreign governments from the U.S. and throughout Europe. Regardless of your own personal positions and convictions on the matter, there is something we must reflect on. It is about the power of a democracy and the dangers of a misinformed, ill-informed, or emotionally charged electorate. After all, the English’s own Churchill wrote “the best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.” But most importantly, it is also about the institution of democracy. Do we modify, reinvent, or revamp the education system and intellectualism, or do we abolish democracy?
The referendum remain(s/ed) the last, purest form of absolute democracy – any democracy. [I will discuss elections later as we near November]. The reasoning is simple. Aristotle said, “The many are more incorruptible than the few…” and “When states are democratically governed according to the law, there are no demagogues, and the best citizens are securely in the saddle; but where the laws are not sovereign, there you find demagogues. The people becomes a monarch, one person composed of many, for the many are sovereign, not as individuals but as an aggregate…such a people, in its role as a monarch, not being controlled by law, aims at sole power and becomes like a master”
The U.K is a parliamentary constitutional monarchy.
However close and divided the decision, the PM, a staunch supporter of the remain campaign, along with his opposers (i.e. Boris Johnson, a life-long friend and political ally), somberly (others with regret, others victoriously) announced the results of the referendum in their own regards, acknowledging and respecting the will of the people and the gravity thereof. He validated this decision by announcing his resignation, citing his conscience and (in)ability as obstacles to fulfilling the peoples’ directive.
Greece is a parliamentary constitutional republic.
The Greeks went to the polls to vote in our referendum; this too, with bitter fights. However, unlike the U.K. referendum, ours was not divided evenly. It was reported around the world as a resounding no.
Vasiliki posted an admittedly hilarious meme depicting all that I have and will write.
But the reality is much harsher than a laugh.
We pride ourselves on being the birthplace of democracy; on being the leaders of revolution and resolution; on being internally free of subjugation.
But our elected representative chose to secure his position rather than defend and express our liberty and sovereignty. And as Benjamin Franklin said, “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”
Why? And now what?
I’ll leave those, and others, as rhetorical questions, or ones we can answer over coffee, or outside a gas station.
President, National Hellenic Student Association