In 2003, millions of people protested against the invasion of Iraq. If Britain and the US had genuine democracies, where the views of ordinary people matter, the invasion, slaughter and torture in Iraq would not have happened. Our governments ignored the protests.(1) The decision-makers tend only to take notice of what ordinary people want if it does not interfere with their plans.
Too Much Power Concentrated In The Hands Of A Few Sociopaths
It has been widely recognised for many years that people can be corrupted by power. For this reason, genuine democracy requires a system of checks and balances so that no person or group has too much power. In theory, both the US and Britain have such a system. Law-makers in the US Congress and the British Parliament, together with the judges in the law courts, are supposed to be independent of top decision-makers (known as the executive). In practice these systems do not work very well. The executive appoints senior people in the judiciary, the police and the prosecution service, so these people are not really independent. The party system in both countries also makes it very difficult for politicians to operate independently from the executive.
Leaders in both countries surround themselves with a small group of advisers, leaving them isolated from the views of the mainstream population. In the UK this is sometimes called the Westminster bubble. Only a small number of people get direct access to information about what are called ‘security’ issues. In both the US and Britain we have small groups of people, such as presidents, prime ministers, their inner circles, together with senior bureaucrats in various government departments, with too much power and only limited ways of reining in that power. The US Congress is now little more than a rubber-stamp, and Parliament in Britain has been described as “God’s Gift To Dictatorship”.(2)
In the US, former President Bush introduced the Patriot and Homeland Security Acts. These created new laws that gave the President almost unlimited powers should he declare an emergency.(3) Presidents Obama and Trump have been no better. Obama’s early record was summarised in 2009 as follows:
“Obama continued with war in Afghanistan, built military bases there, and increased the scale of attacks in Pakistan…He excused torture… and demanded more secret government.