Freedom is a misused or misunderstood word. It means many things to many people. It is not as some would claim the right to do anything you please. Freedom to do anything is anarchy and deprives others of security and property.
Freedom begins with democracy. Even in its many forms democracy provides the people with a voice and a choice. People in democracies can challenge the actions of their leaders and they can change their leaders through the ballot box. They can gather and protest on the streets - a freedom that was hard won.
Democratic freedom isn't free, it comes at a price. Democratic freedom has to be fought for and defended. The replacement of democracy with autocracy is rarely a simple process. The dictators of the 20th century were all elected. There are elected officials in democracies today who will become autocratic if we allow them to take power without a fight. Would be tyrants don't care what people write, they don't care about the law, they only care about power.
If a would be tyrant wants to become an autocrat he gets elected and then consolidates his power. Power over the media, the military, the banks and the legal system and then changes the law or the constitution 'democratically'.
This is already happening all over the democratic world. Nationalist and populist groups are feeding on the fears of ordinary people by getting the most poorly informed people to support their cause. They say 'Others are stealing our jobs, stealing our land, stealing our culture'. While the people fight and argue those that promote these fears grow richer and consolidate their power. They do this by promising to protect us from the enemy outside while they become the enemy within.
If democracy isn't working then it is because democracy isn't fighting back. Democracy isn't selling itself to the people. Democracy has become fat, lazy and weak. The alternatives are dire. Democracy needs to sell itself to the people and that sale begins by teaching children the value of our political system.
Freedom of religion, freedom of movement, freedom from tyranny must be defended by lawyers, soldiers and strong minded, ethical politicians. Democracy needs new strong leaders who are prepared to fight for the right to be free.
Robin E Horsfall
Veterans' and People's Party
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