We have just witnessed one of the great elections of the 21st century, and certainly one of the most important.
Whatever your political persuasion, we live in a democracy, and democracy is a better alternative than any other political system. Democracies have amazing flaws, but one of their great strengths is that they allow transitions of power without bloodshed.
The rule of law is integral in making sure that takes place.
Whatever electoral processes a nation has in place – the US has an electoral college system with first past the post voting, whilst Australia has compulsory voting, preferential voting and an independent electoral commission – and whatever version of democracy a nation has – a republic, a commonwealth, a federation, a constitutional monarchy – the reality is that democracies allow us to oppose tyranny. The rule of law and the systems in place support that.
This is a wonderful article in The Guardian which indicates why both democracy and the rule of law are so important.
The law is something that secures our rights and guides our actions. It is not simply a field of litigation. Once a tyrant turns the law into a field of litigation and opposes all of the norms within our society, then they undermine the entire democratic system.
Some people may want to do that. Some people think that we must move on from democracy to something else, but the reality again is that democracy allows us all to have a say in our governance.
The process in the US has been a wonderful demonstration of democracy in practice. Democratic institutions, despite flaws and frailties, still survive and are supported by the vast majority of Americans. The US judicial system is not politicised as much as we thought. Widespread violence has not eventuated. Social media platforms are increasing their accountability regarding violence, fact checking, science and conspiracy theories. And there will be a peaceful transition of power.
We must never let our leaders undermine the rule of law or undermine the institutions that support it. Don’t take democracy down with you in any election.