Democracy - in the age of Brexit, Covid-19 and Trump - is more important now than ever

Democracy - in the age of Brexit, Covid-19 and Trump - is more important now than ever

GOD only knows we aren’t always well served by our politicians.

In our brief, less than a hundred years, experience of democracy on this island we have had more than enough to fill a decent sized rogues gallery.

Whilst I think those of you in the UK may, in this present time, be scraping new depths in terms of the character, ability, and principles of your political class we could still match you in a shoot-out.

In any Dail there’s always at least one TD that has the whiff of corruption, at least one that is nothing more than a local baron, and at least one that will say something so ignorant and offensive that you’d seriously wonder about their emotional health.

But, all that being true, the huge importance of our political system, our democracy, has become frighteningly clear.

Brexit, Trump, Covid.

Three markers of our recent days and three stark reminders of just how vitally crucial, however flawed, however badly served, our democracy is.

Take Brexit for instance. On this side of the Irish Sea we looked on horrified and aghast as a Conservative, yes Conservative Prime Minister, sought to close Parliament in order to achieve his aims.

Sought to bypass the political system. Sought to sidestep democracy.

Brexit, characterised by untruths and distortions, lies and misinformation, racism and prejudice blatantly finding that democracy was not to its liking.

Take Trump. Trump’s anti-democratic feelings, in the world’s self-styled greatest democracy, were nothing if not open.

His declared admiration for dictators in North Korea or Russia is a matter of record.

His belief that he, and he alone, spoke the truth. His belief that only an election where he won was possible.

This denigration of democracy reached its natural outcome with the infamous storming of the Capitol.

The rest of us looked on in horror as the democratic process itself was assaulted and if the fascist rioters had had their way it would have been assassinated.

Take Covid. Trump’s hordes were in many ways the forerunners of the Covid crowd in that they too believed things that blatantly weren’t true.

Covid’s assault on democracy has come not from the social strictures of the disease itself but the anti-vaccination, pandemic-denying crowds who continue to put our recovery on hold.

As one of Dublin’s leading hospitals the Mater revealed that its ICU department last weekend was at breaking point it also revealed that all Covid patients in ICU had either underlying conditions or hadn’t been vaccinated.

But what are facts when you have your own facts from somewhere in the bowels of the internet.

Indeed one Facebook posting here from someone in this beautiful part of Ireland compared being unable to go to a local film club because of being unvaccinated with living under apartheid.

You can’t throw facts at ridiculous delusions that deep.

What this anti-vaccination crowd have in common with Trump’s crowd though is more than just an inclination to believe things that are demonstrably untrue.

Anti-lockdown rioters across Europe are inspired by a hodgepodge of anti-democratic belief systems that range in terms of source material from David Icke to Adolf Hitler.

Even a brief online exploration of Ireland’s leading anti-vaxxers leads very quickly to some dark places.

Places seething with hatred. Their online dungeon of tricolours, Jesus, and any and every prejudice you can think of is a dispiriting couple of hours.

The reason why so many of them have protested outside the family homes of assorted politicians is because these people despise democracy and despise us.