An Election Goes Unchallenged
A couple months ago, I started a blog entry (not yet published) about my displeasure at something Trump said about abortion rights, which prompted me to consider the importance of choice in areas other than abortion. Now, after Brexit has caused massive upheaval in British politics, especially in the leadership of the Conservative Party, I feel compelled to revisit the issue.
In recap, a narrow majority of the UK voted to Leave the European Union, in a referendum that was only called by David Cameron to paper over internal party divisions on Europe. He supported the Remain campaign. Seeing his gambit fail, Cameron resigned as Prime Minister. The heavy favorites to succeed him, including Boris Johnson and Michael Grove, were diminished in stature by the Leave campaign, and opted not to run. That left it to B-list politicians Andrea Leadsom and Theresa May, female voices of the Leave and Remain campaign, respectively, to run for the top job in British politics.
Today, before a single vote is cast, Andrea Leadsom has dropped out and Theresa May will become Prime Minister.
(P.S. As a side note, I do not want to imply I wanted Leadsom to win, or for May to lose, just that I think how it all came about is ridiculous and unfair to the voters.)
If this feels familiar to my American readers, I can understand why. Many argue that the Hillary “coronation” happened because stronger candidates than Bernie Sanders stayed out of the race and Sanders was simply not expecting to or up to the task of denying her the nomination. And fellow Gators, you are likely well acquainted with a Student Government which, every few years, sees the temporary loss of an opposition party allowing the ruling party to have the coronation its feels it has deserved since the 1920s.
When a candidate or an election goes unchallenged, I feel democracy is weakened. After all, some of the worst dictatorships in the world, from Saddam’s Iraq to the Communist Bloc, held periodic “elections” where there was no opposition. It is a slippery slope from letting one race go unopposed to letting a whole cadre of insiders rule without any opportunity to held accountable to the broader public.
I have run a quixotic effort to prevent an election from going unchallenged. I admire what Sanders accomplished when so many better candidates chose not to bother. And if the Tories do not hold fresh elections, allowing Theresa May to be anointed Prime Minister without a mandate, I will be disappointed that the “Mother of All Parliaments” will condone such an undemocratic selection of its leadership.
The fundamental character of democracy is that the people have the right to vote, to express their voice, between two or more alternative people or visions for how they should be lead. When those choices are denied, and the people’s voice is silenced, we lose that most important part of our democracy.
Whether you are #nevertrump or think he will #makeamericagreatagain, whether you #feelthebern or have declared #imwithher, just appreciate that, for all the highs and lows, the moments that inspire and the moments that terrify, for better or worse, at least our country’s next leader will have been chosen by the people in a general election. Unlike our friends across the pond.