Corona Virus, Democracy, and Accountability

First, please take a look at the good advice from the CDC.

Second, consider also how you might be able to help the people around you. and other social media apps can put you in touch with your neighbors, to find out who you can help, or find out who can help you.

The virus spreads from person to person – meaning it is mainly up to each of us, person to person, to beat it back.  Governments can help, but much depends upon the kind of government we have.  In his March 11 column, Josh Rogin makes the following points:

Democracies (republics) like ours can perform better than autocracies IF leaders are held to account by elected legislators and their voters.  Consider two examples.

One is China, a single-party autocracy.  China has done a good job of flattening the mortality rate of the COVID-19 virus, but only through a massive, brute-force effort that was made necessary by almost two months of official coverups. Withholding information about what was really happening allowed the virus to spread inside and outside of China. 

The other example is South Korea, a multi-party democracy with a high degree of openness to scrutiny by the legislature, the media, and the population.  The government there moved quickly and comprehensively and is already reducing the rate of new COVID-19 cases without having to resort to harsh tactics.  

Rogin believes the South Korean success can be traced back to our willingness to hold our leaders accountable.  CFFAD notes that well functioning democracies have several tools for accountability including your vote in free and fair elections; competitive elections to keep the pressure on to perform well while in office; an unshackled media to provide lots of different perspectives on how to solve problems; legislative oversight of the executive branches of federal, state, and local governments; and an independent supreme court system.  How many of these tools are under attack now?  Fighting to keep them might also help your fight against COVID-19.

Rogin concludes his op-ed piece with this:  “Our citizens live better lives because they are promised dignity and entrusted with truth. Our values are not what make us vulnerable; they are what make us strong. All we have to do is live up to them.”

To learn more about the advantages of democracy, try our learning module “Democracy is Precious.”

CFFAD has 5 learning modules now, with more on the way.  Try them all!  Please share these with your book club, discussion group, and friends!

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