Democracy and the Will of the People

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By Sham Samaroo, Ph.D.

American democracy prides itself on the exalted principle of government of the people, for the people, and by the people. The majority of Americans disapprove of Israeli action in Gaza, a recent Gallup survey suggested, the BBC is reporting. On three separate occasions, the United Nations passed a resolution calling for a ceasefire in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and three times the Biden administration vetoed the resolution. The attack on southern Israel on 7 October saw about 1,200 Israelis and foreigners – mostly civilians – killed, according to Israeli tallies. In response, more than 34,000 Palestinians in Gaza – most of them children and women – have been killed in the conflict, the territory’s Hamas-run health ministry says, according to the BBC. With deaths mounting in the tens of thousands the Biden administration finally supported a ceasefire resolution. In democracies, inconsistencies with the will of the people do tend to provoke all sorts of opinions.

At the coffee shop last weekend I found myself in conversation with a gentleman who believes that American democracy is a farce. Before he began, he asked if I were of the herd mentality (you know, the two-party system), and if so then I should suspend my allegiance briefly. He said that during the cold war, the Soviet Union always maintained that American elections were a farce. Every four years American citizens are given the right to choose who will oppress them for the next four years. I pointed out that the Soviets conveniently neglected to mention that even that right was not afforded the Soviet citizen. Ignoring my comment, he continued. Every four years, citizens regularly subscribe to the herd mentality in support of their party. But do these parties answer to the will of the people, or to some other authority? Were there times in its history when the American administration not only did not reflect the will of the people, but acted contrary to that will? Is it possible to wonder whether the elected government (either party, it doesn’t matter) is really a puppet on a string?

If both parties are puppets then who or what is the puppeteer? I asked. Instead, he brought up the demonstrations on college campuses across the country this past week. Are you going to justify this lawlessness, I interjected. He impatiently reminded me to suspend any allegiances. He recalled the demonstrations and riots on campuses from a few years ago. Many of the same ones who remained silent then, are now among the ones vociferously condemning these demonstrations. Yes, but one could say the same, the other way around, I pointed out. There you go again with the herd mentality, he chastised me before continuing. Is it possible that this time around the demonstrations on campus may be rattling the agenda of the puppeteer? So who or what is this mysterious puppeteer, I again asked.

He paused momentarily before continuing. Who knows? There are lots of different opinions out there. Some point to the military-industrial complex and the money class, some to the elitists (the intellectual class), others point to World Zionism, and still others to World Communism. There is too the Globalists, and then those who dismiss it all as conspiracy theory. So take your pick, he said before taking his leave.

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The views expressed in this column are solely those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of the THE WEST INDIAN.