By Mexico Voices, 04/10/15
Our current relationship with democracy is well described by a formula that Pedro Henríquez Ureña borrowed. In a short essay from 1927, he used it to talk about the search for a Latin American cultural identity. I believe, however, that he also is addressing what, for us today, is the tone of the quest for democracy: discontent and promise. It seems to me to be an appropriate translation of what political scientist Pippa Norris, from Harvard University, has called the democratic deficit, what she defines as the breach that separates citizens’ public aspirations from the performance of democratic institutions.
It is a well-known fact that the evil of many is of little consolation; even so, it doesn’t stop being a relative relief to know that the discomfort that afflicts us in politics is present in the majority of democratic countries. The particular causes are different, but we share the disillusionment with how political institutions are run without therefore giving up the values and ideals of democracy.
After the euphoria of the third wave of democratization, a skepticism has settled in on almost the entire world as a product of the citizens’ anger with the institutional performance and with those who govern. We only have to do a quick tour of the bibliography of the last 10 years on the topic of democracy. The titles offer to answer questions such as, Why Do People From the United States Hate Politics? What Are the Political Parties For? What Is It About the Government that Citizens Dislike So Much? Other titles contain phrases that reveal hopelessness: Disaffected Democracies, The Erosion of Political Support in the Advanced Industrial Democracies, Parties Without Supporters. And I am citing only a few.