Canadian journalist Donna Laframboise. Former National Post & Toronto Star columnist, past vice president of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association. New posts: Mondays & Wednesdays.
A nation’s voters decide their own fate, but only their own.
Once upon a time we were ruled by the throne and the altar. The king decreed. We, the peasants complied. The church insisted. We, the peasants submitted.
Then something marvelous happened. Ordinary people got the vote. Bad leaders could be replaced. Not by bloodshed and violence, but in an orderly fashion. At the ballot box.
This is called democracy. Government by consent of the governed.
Presidents are only presidents because we choose them. If Prime Ministers ignore our concerns, we don’t choose them the next time. We vote for someone else. They pack their bags.
Democracy is therefore a system of accountability. Bad laws can be repealed. Bad policies can be halted. The public can elect someone who’ll change course.
But democracy doesn’t work without clear national borders. The voters in country ‘A’ decide their own fate, but only their own. Election results are applicable within their territory but not beyond.
Next door, voters in nation ‘B’ are at liberty to choose a different path – and will live with the consequences. Within their territory.
John Lennon’s pop song urges us to
Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion, too
Imagine all the people living life in peace
But a world without countries is a world in which self-rule – citizens steering their own ship – is impossible. Universal peace is a lovely fantasy. But oppression is what happens when rulers aren’t accountable, when ordinary people have no voice.
That’s the old, dreadful world our ancestors worked so hard to escape. A world in which kings decree, and peasants comply. In which churches insist, and peasants submit.