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Scarlett Nation » Democracy » Politicians Shouldn’t Listen to the People.

Politicians Shouldn’t Listen to the People.

What I am about to say is probably the most controversial idea I have ever put into writing. On the surface it may seem an abhorrent, illiberal idea that should conflict with all of my democratic values. But I’m going to say it anyway:

I think our politicians should sometimes be less concerned with the will of the people.

Note, I say sometimes. That’s an important ‘sometimes’. I do believe in democracy, honest. It’s just that I believe in representative democracy. I don’t believe in mob rule.

This representative democracy is particularly important when it comes to minority politics. If every decision was made via referendum I doubt we’d have accepted the expense or effort involved in, say, making adjustments for those with disabilities. Because for the majority of people, particularly in the short term, it’s better not to bother. But the rights of those people do not become less important because there are fewer of them, and a society in which the majority trample everyone else is not one in which I want to live.

As such, I think our elected representatives need to put aside what is momentarily popular and consider what is right – they have a responsibility to do it, in fact. If they just keep passing the buck back to us, why do I bother paying them a salary at all?

Never has this been more apparent to me than with the issue of marriage equality. In spite of apparently holding a personal belief that it’s the right thing to do, and in spite of the wealth of unemotional, reasoned arguments in favour, Cameron is keen to let us decide.

I’m sorry, but why does the opinion of a majority for whom this policy has no direct impact count for anything? If a majority of people say no to equal marriage, what then? I’m sorry, you made a good case, and I agree with you, but someone who has no authority over you would prefer you lived your life differently? I suspect it’s an opportunity for our leaders to shrug and say ‘not my fault’. Actually, yes it is – it was your job to safeguard my rights, not Mrs Biggins, so don’t go shoving the blame on to her.

Had Roy Jenkins waited until the public were in favour of homosexuality to legalise it, we’d still be waiting now. Sometimes your leaders have to do just that – lead.

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Co-founder and contributor to Scarlett Nation.

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