I didn’t realise when someone pointed out to me a few months ago that the democracy I had thought I had lived under all my life wasn’t real democracy, and how much this awareness of reality would change my thinking. In the course of the last week it’s impact on the wider world  has hit me, particularly the lip service that is paid by elected members to represent their constituents. The quality of the current so-called democratic leaders across the world tends to be determined by a ‘get elected at all costs in the interests of your party’ attitude.

Last week the British Parliament voted on whether to become more involved in the fight against ISIS. The legislation passed easily, mainly because the leader of the opposition party allowed his members a ‘free’ vote in the sense that they weren’t given party instructions. No mention of the constituents any of them were supposed to represent.

In the USA one of the leading contestants for President in next year’s election has apparently no experience for his new role, all he seems to have is a very healthy bank account. He is labelled ‘rich’ because of his ability to take money from other people. One such person in our own Parliament is in the same category but is likely to go bankrupt. What will happen to him as the ‘qualification’ for his election by his constituents will have gone? It will be interesting to see if he will be re-elected or will he be replaced by someone who really wants to represent the people who elect him?

Last week we had a by-election for a seat in Sydney. In a cabinet shuffle as the result of a bloodless coup his predecessor had lost his position so he promptly resigned, suggesting that he was in the job for his own ambition, not for the interests of his constituents. His successor fervently promised to serve his constituents although it wasn’t clear whether he meant those who voted for him or all those who lived in his electorate? There was no mention of how he intended to fulfil either of these. The way our so-called democracy works in fact is that he is likely to just follow his party leaders. If the people he reckons he is representing have views which are different from this they have a very restricted way of letting him know or of him finding out. These comments are based on what generally happens, not on any particular knowledge of this gentleman.

We call this democracy. If we have a look at the world, with all its wars, famine and poverty it seems to me this system is not working. It is time we found a better one. This is not what most people want for the world we live in and share.

We older people have the time, knowledge and experience to speak out and define what we want in our own lives and for those who share this world with us. It’s time we took on what to me is one of our responsibilities. As we live longer we gain more of these very desirable characteristics. It should be our obligation to use them.