ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Democracy on a Slippery Slope

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Ever since the results of the United States (US) presidential election made it clear that the Republican Party led by Donald Trump was going to lose the presidential elections, the turn of the events there have brought the ethos of American democracy under serious constraints. The constant efforts that were allegedly made by Trump and his supporters to vehemently and violently reject the election verdict cast serious aspersions on the democratic culture of the country. In fact, the nature of assault on democracy has been seen as an unparalleled experience in the life and times of the US democracy. The unpleasant experience produced by Trump and company compels one to summon to one’s attention the rich intellectual tradition that sought to give deeper and wider philosophical meaning to the very conception of democracy. In fact, as the editorial in the current issue shows, the challenge that normative carriers of democracy seem to be facing, particularly from the sections that are driven by the sense of White supremacy, has increased particularly during the last presidential rule.

The White-supremacist attempts to undermine both the philosophical tradition of democratic thinking as well as the shared experience of democratic culture have sought to assign narrow parochial meaning to the idea of “rule.” In the framework of institutional democracy, the idea of “rule” is built around the affirmative exercise of power that a party acquires through electoral processes that enjoy constitutional legitimacy. Power acquires an affirmative dimension when it is used not to show mastery over others but exercise power according to the norms laid down in the constitutional documents. The idea of power to rule comes with the responsibility to fulfil promises that are made to defend democracy. To rule is not to establish the supremacy of the majority by subjugating the minority. It is this affirmative sense of rule that induces ethical elements in the very idea of rule. Taken in this sense in right earnest, a party should develop the ethical capacity to rule and be ruled in turn. This would also mean that a party that is driven by such an ethical capacity would not hesitate to accept defeat and acknowledge the electoral victory of the opponents.

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Updated On : 23rd Jan, 2021

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