The responsible political class in the USA were far quicker and more certain yesterday in endorsing the country's democratic choice than were their British counterparts following Brexit. They remembered that first and foremost they are Americans, and that Country trumps faction or party. In the UK, where loyalties to global federalism rivals loyalties to the nation, losing politicians will not always put country first.
I do wonder though whether both Brexit and the Trump victory are not the final magnificent manifestations of the foundation of democracy as we know it – universal suffrage and the secret ballot. Enshrined in Article 21 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, drafted by men who had seen the Nazi extermination camps with their own eyes, they have formed the bedrock of post-war global democratic standards.
The ongoing urban whine in the UK and the demonstrations today in the US demonstrate that not everyone, and particularly not younger citizens, support democracy. There is a chilling chart in the Telegraph this morning;
Fewer than half of those in Europe born after the 1970s think that democracy is 100% essential. We have seen manifestations of this already – with the remainian class looking at a variety of democratic alternatives that will give them power despite of and not because of democratic outcomes.
As time goes on and demographics change, a new cohort that believes far less in democracy than we do will take control. Sobibor and Treblinka are too far distant from their experience for them to fear giving up democratic rights in exchange for a government that follows their agenda.
We must pin Article 21 to the mast – if, in both the USA and in the UK, we're fighting for anything, it is this.
(1) Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives.
(2) Everyone has the right of equal access to public service in his country.
(3) The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.