Democracy has been very good at selling itself as the ideal form of government, in which the control over the rules in society is brought back to the people. It has been able to present itself as a system that is based on the romantic conceptions of free speech, transparency, equality, representation, etc. In a way, at least epistemologically, it accomplishes the goal of giving the power to the people. Unlike Autocracy, where the autos (self or individual) is in charge of the Kratos (rule), hinting that a single individual takes decisions and governs based on personal conceptions; in democracy, the Kratos is now defined by the demos (people), meaning that the people are now able to choose the rules that will govern them. However, there is a reason why I say that this is possible, “at least epistemologically.” In practical modern-world terms, the only thing that democracy has accomplished is giving the people the power to pick the autocrats that will rule them.
A candidature which leads to a campaign, a campaign that leads to popular recognition, and popular recognition that leads to suffrage: this is the process of our democracy that has become more of a mediatic show than an actual representation of the people’s will. The senate, the congress, the house of commons, and the president are mere reminders that we don’t have political power beyond picking this small class of individuals; in our current democratic systems, the demos are not in control of the Kratos. We don’t make the rules, we can only choose who will make them.
It is therefore under this premise that I have been particularly apathetic when it comes to this democracy, which appears to be better defined as some sort of chosen autocracy. However, it is also under this premise that I have learned the importance of good leaders who are able to truly represent the interest of their communities, whose powers won’t go beyond pointing their community towards a common goal in order to evade individualist anarchy, and who won’t become autocratic politicians, using the rule of law to secure their own power. It is especially under this premise that I now talk about our new VCSA representatives:
As a large community, it is not a surprise to anyone that here, at Vanier, we have our own form of student governance, in which, by pure democratic idealism, we pick, every year, fellow students that will speak for the entire Vanier student community. They will then, in a refined political fashion, enact reforms and provide actions that are meant to benefit the student body, a system that is as idealistic as it is necessary. However, it is a government that, in a refined democratic fashion, has shined for their lack of representation in the years that I have found myself a member of the Vanier community. It is a government plagued by the drama of constant impeachments. It is an association whose visible benefits for the students (access to the gym, academic representation, clubs’ organization, general assemblies, student newspaper) have been slowly shoved to the bottom of their list of priorities, and their absence has been covered with “free breakfasts,” as well as “swag bags”. This is an association whose lack of transparency only raises questions about the purpose of such an association that, at least in the past year, hasn’t been able to account for their overall need as the representatives of the student body.
Nevertheless, now that we have successfully undergone the painfully unnatural COVID elections to choose our new VCSA representatives, this becomes less of a harsh critique about our student association, and more of a hopeful look at our future as Vanier students. A new and refreshed association should be able to patch up the poor governance of their predecessors, and show us, the students whom it speaks for, that our internal democracy is not a simple sham, but a true depiction of our interests as a community. We are conscious (OR IS IT CONSCIENTIOUS) enough to know that not everything is possible, that we might be limited by legal or economical constraints, but the new VCSA should also be conscious (OR IS IT CONSCIENTIOUS) that this is not an excuse for us, the students, to not push our representatives to keep their actions both clear and relevant.
Now that the campaign is over, the new VCSA should show us with actions what they have promised with words. This body must show the students who are dubious of the legitimacy of this association that they are represented in the way that has been promised to them. In the end, it is up to the newly elected VCSA executives if they want to amend the errors of their predecessors or become, once again, the antagonists of a sceptical opinion column here, in The Insider.
By Miguel Cano Gallo