Loyalty vs Democracy

Democracy and loyalty are two diametrically opposite concepts; yet, they are compatible when they are in their rightful places.

Loyalty is commitment to a cause or a person, irrespective of the situation and change that time brings upon. Loyalty transcends promises and performances. Democracy is a choice amongst contenders and it can only happen when there is impartiality.

In democracy, you vote because you want to have a change. You are able to take stock of the situation and then choose. It is always based on past performances and future promises. Choice can only be amongst equals or seemingly equals. However, for any competition to exist, you need impartial masses.

Then how can impartial masses be loyal to any party? When there is no competition or choice, democracy dies. When the public is loyal to a particular party, or person, then there is no need for any election because there is no choice. Winning by a small margin is not considered to be a great victory. In the same way, a 100 percent unanimous victory also does not speak much for democracy, as people have voted out of loyalty alone.

Loyalty disallows impartial competition for if you are loyal to one party and if the same party continues to rule, what is the point in having elections? Democracy allows healthy competition between parties to perform and serve people better. Unfortunately, election campaigns around the world have become so negative, it is a competition of mud-slinging and belittling others, rather than coming to power by one’s own virtues and sacrifices.

In many countries around the world, loyalty and elections have been separated. In situations where people have not been properly educated about their rights, their choices and the consequences of their choices, democracy may bring injustice in the garb of justice.

Loyalty goes hand in hand with Royalty. Royalty does not change – it is passed down from generation to generation, whereas democracy needs an impartial decision and good judgement. Loyalty has its place -you need to be loyal to your principles, monarch, country, the military, your employer, employees and spouse. You have to be faithful to your country, but you endanger democracy if you are loyal to a single political party.

Morality anchor

It is unjust to demand loyalty from everybody, with the exception being party workers and office bearers who have to be loyal to their party as otherwise it will not function. It is also equally valid that by giving a permanent mandate to a particular political entity, you are breeding corruption. One should give a break to the party in power, grant them a holiday, so that they can recoup their enthusiasm and energise themselves.

Many countries in the world have gone for a combination of both monarchy and democracy. While the Kings and Queens are the subject of loyalty, people feel free to choose their Prime Ministers or Presidents, as is the case in United Kingdom, Sweden, Denmark, Spain and Japan. There the loyalty for dynasty continues and so it does not get mixed up with democratic institutions.

It is the nature of people with integrity to find an anchor for their loyalty. In India, for centuries, the Maharajas, who were the subject of loyalty, have been abolished and the Governors and Presidents have somehow not been able to replace them. Hence, that loyalty is now directed towards the elected leaders. Dynastic rule is detrimental to democracy as people know who would be the next leader. This can bring down the moral fibre and destroy fair competition.

In the US, a common expression is ‘yellow-dog Democrats’ – people loyal to the Democrats would rather vote for a yellow dog than a Republican. Most people label themselves Republican or Democrat. In any election it’s the narrow ‘swing’ vote which is really the deciding factor. If you look closely, it is only a few who have really chosen. Ideally, it should be the masses who choose and the few who should be loyal. Then election has meaning.

Another point of view then would be that there can be no continuity nor stability if the loyalties are shifted frequently. Here one should understand that loyalty should be more for the cause than to the means – and party is the means, the cause is the upliftment of the country. Freedom and loyalty should go hand in hand. However, a loyalty which is stifling gradually decays and a freedom without loyalty leads to anarchy.

Life needs loyalty, but when it comes to democracy, one should act like a father who has love for all his sons, yet chooses the right one for the right job. You have to be loyal to human values. Instead, if you are loyal to a party, how can you exercise your franchise? You cannot be loyal to a party and claim to have a choice. Only the impartial can choose.

Ministership is to serve the people, not to take pleasure in power. When a seat is used for pleasure or prestige, society becomes infested with corruption, lacks growth, and undergoes a moral degradation. Fear and insecurity grip the society and paralyse the human-ness.

Fear toll

It is natural for human beings to want to overcome fear and insecurity and will do almost anything to feel secure. Consequently there is struggle for the seat of power. However those who hanker after power are really powerless! They can accomplish very little even after coming into office. So don’t blame them!

The irony is that even after assuming the seat of power, the fear doesn’t leave one. In fact it increases manyfold. If you are in fear and tension you can’t come up with creative ideas or be able to do much for society or yourself. Often you hear ministers threatening to resign if they don’t get their way and their followers threatening to kill themselves. It is sheer irresponsibility to renounce a sacred duty assigned by the people. If you realise your innate power, you don’t need a seat or position to serve the people. You can do better without a formal post, as did Mahatma Gandhi.

Often a ruler is not a reformer and a reformer doesn’t rule! The main motivating factor for people is their emotions. Especially when illiteracy is high. This is used and misused by political parties and religious leaders for short term gains. The only way to counter this is broad based education, both scientific and spiritual.

Most political leaders lack education in true service. Few are above the boundaries of race, religion and nationality. Like any other profession we need to have a system for educating politicians. A certain level of social education and maturity is needed to shoulder responsibility. Every minister must be able to ignore the sycophants around him or her and learn to listen to their own inner voice, their own divine guidance, what they innately know to be right and wrong.

We have to get out of the politics of hate and mistrust. True politics is to care for all people. When service for the people is the main aim of politics and not power or pleasure, any country will develop much faster as everyone will be competing to serve better instead of for personal gains.

Unfortunately that has not always been the case. Today when parties come together, they do so because of common enemies rather than common goals. Then the basis is hatred and fear. Isn’t it? My heart aches when I see the disgust and hatred among the people and their leaders. Opposite parties must work together for the progress of the country. The politics of hatred should end.

Politicians today waste much time in mud-slinging and undoing what the other has done. When today’s political parties complement and honour one another, Bharat will really shine. “Satyuga” (golden period) will be when opposing parties work towards one goal – making the poor self confident, the rich a generous giver, the educated not crooked, and the innocent not foolish.