Miranda Aisha Putri
Community and Regional Policy Studies Major
Faculty of Policy Science
Ritsumeikan University, Osaka, Japan
The simplest way to define a democratic system is a system entirely conducted by considering the voice and aspirations of the people in mind because it is a government system famously explained as a system to, by, and for the people. In other words, democracy is like the idiom a ‘two-way street’: it is an idea that requires effort to gain benefit. In its most real sense and purposes, it ensures opportunities for freedom, participation, and inclusion to all members, getting more power and drive from the people in all its parts; as participants, executors, also as those who benefit from democracy.
This ideology’s popularity is accounted for, proven by 2017 Pew Research Center’s report that stated that by 2016, nearly six-in-ten countries out of all recognized countries in the world considered themselves as democratic nations. Its popularity can be credited to many reasons, with most prominent ones being its inclusive nature; enabling all citizens to actively take charge and determine the course of action their country is taking. As compelling as the idea is, democracy does not come easy. The truth is, a democratic system entirely relies on the people for its prosperity and success. Hence we need to consider that responsibility and accountability of each course of action are shared amongst all people, just like all people have the right to experiencing the benefits of a democratic society. It is of course, as stated before, a ‘two-way street.’
One question remains here: if it is essential to living in a democracy, will everyone be willing to share the responsibilities and burdens that come with it? Theoretically, answering the question might be easy, but realizing the words spoken are much harder. Proving our words with actions is where most of our challenges in democracy lays; our willingness to act our roles in a democratic society accordingly.
Having grown up in a democratic country, the writer can state that she is in favour of living in a democracy. With every citizen having the right to voice and act of where the country is taking its course, its importance is unquestionable. Nonetheless, she is also aware that a diversity of questions and challenges come with the advantages of a democratic society. How can we guarantee that by believing that leaders can come from anywhere, their qualification is wholly assured? How about the certainty in elected representatives to advocate for the most pressing and vital issues of the country? These questions and doubts about how a state is taking its course of action are something she is very familiar with, often ponders herself and are mostly formed because she finds one thing that lacks in most of today’s democratic systems: accountability. Accountability itself can be defined as the variety of methods that all members of a democratic society to participate, provide, and receive feedback to elected representatives in order conduct the check-and-balance process, something very crucial in a democratic government.
The problem is it is no longer fake news to hear about instances of unaccountability in today’s democratic societies, as it is no longer strange for many of us to see so many aspects of democratic governments being tarnished away by irresponsibility. Examples of these instances are a part of our daily lives, such as more than two-thirds of countries in the world suffers from high corruption burden, which includes a diverse number of democratic countries, as reported by the Corruption Perception Index by Transparency International Secretariat, published in 2018. Furthermore, there are also instances of some of today’s governments tarnished away by cases of dishonest elected representatives to black campaign during the election period. From these familiar examples, it looked like we are only here to experience the benefits of democracy without wanting to share the responsibility of the one thing that keeps democracy in check: accountability of its participants. Is that the idea of democracy we are willing to fight and advocate? If it is, then all of us, the people living in a democracy, need a harsh wake-up call. We need to realize that this is far from the ideal democracy; it is not even close to it.
In one of his speeches in 2009, Barack Obama once stated, “A democracy requires accountability, and accountability requires transparency.” The fate of democracy highly depends on having accountability and transparency, with the responsibility of ensuring so relies solely on the hands of us, the people living by its values. In a democratic country, it is a guaranteed right for the people to participate in the governance system in any manner they want to, but with that right, comes the obligation of being accountable to one’s choices and actions. We are the ones who are then held accountable for our actions; and by us, it does not refer only to the elected leaders or representatives of democratic societies. The same degree of accountability is also our burden as citizens to ensure that we choose the right leaders and representatives, and to advocate for the most pressing issues in the society so that it receives attention. Thus, everyone in a democratic community is then obliged to ensure the continuity of their democratic societies by electing the right representatives and doing their part in checks and balances of the government system, something not held highly by most people in the current ‘democratic’ countries.
One question remains to be addressed now: If we want to advocate about the importance of living in a democracy, are we also ready to act accountable to our democratic actions?
To conclude, we need first to remember that to advocate for lives guaranteed by democracy; we need to quickly realize that the burden of democratic accountability held upon all of us. It is up to us the society to ensure that we act accordingly, preserving the values of an ideal democracy and safeguarding its prosperity and longevity. There are many things we citizens can do to make sure of this, including advocating for open and transparent government bodies, participating actively in our countries’ political arena, and most importantly, by respecting our responsibilities given by the democratic ideology. These actions might be menial, but these are the start and the foundation to the later, more impactful actions. By acting and playing our roles, we are not only advocating for the importance of living in a democracy, but also for a democracy that can be held accountable.