First, Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon said the results of the EU referendum was “democratically unacceptable” and then the BBC reports a petition for a new referendum* has reached a million signatures (which means Parliament must discuss it). What is the theme here?
Well, I do not believe so, but apparently when you do not like the results of democracy in action it is “unacceptable” or you give it another go until you are happy with the results. Western states are increasingly looking like banana republics.
Let us consider Sturgeon’s response. She argues it is “democratically unacceptable” for Scotland to be taken away from the EU when Scotland voted overwhelmingly to remain. To be fair, Scots offered a decisive vote to remain: with a high turnout and a solid majority to stay. However, these results happen in democratic elections. How many people did not vote for the Conservatives but have been stuck with prime minister David Cameron for the past six years? How many people voted for Scottish independence but are still stuck in the UK?
IN A DEMOCRACY, YOU WILL BE OUTVOTED ON OCCASION AND BE STUCK WITH AN OUTCOME YOU DID NOT VOTE FOR.
Personally, I did not vote for Barack Obama or wanted the Affordable Care Act (ACA). I have strong disagreements about his politics and public policy. However, at no time have I felt he was un-democratically elected or, in the case of ACA, was un-democratically enacted. Sure, I am frustrated by these outcomes but I look to the next election or Congress to get the changes I believe in.
As Churchill said, “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others.” Understandably, this is a fault in democratic forms of government – not everyone’s views will be represented or favourite policies enacted. Why? Because not everyone believes what you believe or thinks how you think! I know, shocking right?’
“People are allowed to make mistakes in a democracy.”
For Scotland, this outcome comes with belonging to a (democratic) political union – the United Kingdom. As I have already discussed, this is the same sort of thing which will happen if Scotland went to the EU. Will they complain about those results too and demand independence from the EU next? Make up your mind!
As for the petition? Well, this too is democracy in action, but because you do not like the outcome does not mean you do it over and over again until you get the results you like. Sure, there are choices I would probably do over again but life does not work out that way. If you do not like this outcome then make it known in the general election. More to the point, the referendum is not legally binding so the Government can ignore it if it so chooses (although this would not be a good idea).
When it comes to voting in a democracy, you put forward your best arguments to the voters and accept the results. If you do not like the results, then you keep offering your alternatives to change people’s minds – politics is the art of persuasion; the Remain camp did not persuade enough people to their cause. No, it is not because people are stupid, racist or whatever childish name you would like to throw at your opponents. People are allowed to make mistakes in a democracy.
* UPDATE: The online petition wants to introduce a new rule which creates a threshold for a referendum to pass, otherwise there would be a another. Unfortunately, creating an ex post facto rule probably does not mean much for this referendum, but could be considered for future ones. However, the thresholds proposed are unrealistic given the turnout in UK elections. As Cameron said, “we have referendums, not neverendums”.