Real-Time Democracy During COVID-19

The COVID-19 Pandemic is a credible and sobering case study of how democracy works today – and what it lacks. Our world after the multiple roller coasters of the pandemic is not the same as it was until the end of 2019. We may not be perceiving all of this today, and our thoughts are focused on the organization of vaccinations, the application of GPs for vaccinations, vaccine kits, new and newer mutants of the virus, the daily frightening numbers of people on the ventilator, and the dead. This will end once, at least in such an overriding form. Yet we may think that this year and a half or two, all its fears, insecurities, disappointments, and consequences, both individually and socially, have burned and will continue to burn.

Now, in this memorable situation, we can test our notions of traditional and new, but certainly fundamental, democracy. We are confronted on a daily, often hourly basis, from the credibility of power and communication to people’s primary and multifaceted reactions, from the right process to counterproductive demonstrations of strength behind bureaucratic and even militant reflexes, from truly global lessons to misunderstanding and viral septic vaccination movements. For the world, the “real-time” perspective of democracy is questionable everywhere and depends heavily on how those who exercise power shape, communicate, implement, and subsequently interpret the decisions they make to their constituents during a pandemic.

Opinion-forming thinkers of our time in government or opposition also offer narratives, socio-psychological research, and media products on contemporary history during the global pandemic, including presentations of visions of post-crisis political conditions. We are confronted with the – optimistic and skeptical – perspectives of different regions and disciplines, including law, political science, philosophy, religion, psychology and sociology, for our personal and communal future from tomorrow’s present. It is a matter of real-time public good, of everyday democracy.

The Restrictive Nature of Democracy and Its Signaling Structures

The adjectives used before the words describing the concept of democracy mean restrictions, most often deprivation. The conceptual self-contradictions of socialist, illiberal democracy are obvious. According to the author of the lines, the word combinations of liberal and even conservative democracy can easily be distorted and become dogmatic, not to mention the falsehood of majority democracy. 

The link between a well-functioning democracy and the proper management of environmental crises is clear. The people most severely affected by climate change are the same ones who are mostly excluded from decision-making. Citizens, through parliaments for legitimate and consensual constitutional elections, need to be able to systematically monitor, signal and address lack of transparency in optimal or insufficient government action. In 2020, largely triggered by the global emergency, the initiatives of formal (national and international) and civil international organizations on environmental democracy to reactivate the crisis effectively and jointly were reactivated.

The pandemic has hit and continues to affect the elderly, the single, people with disabilities, young people at the beginning of their careers, and many marginalized groups. To address the current emergency, such as involving women in political and decision-making processes, gender modern addressing of issues is essential to alleviate inequalities and ensure that democracy is credible and keeps its fundamental promises. Not to mention that the impact of gender on democracy strongly demonstrates that if women are codominant in politics alongside men, it benefits society as a whole. In addition to the non-essential, but not exclusive, the definition of biological, the reinterpretation of the social role of gender in addition to positive traditions resulting from changing the world is a constant democracy-dependent and democracy-related task. In many countries, these factors can reduce women’s payments anyway if they become unemployed due to the Pandemic. At the same time, women’s caring responsibilities will also increase significantly. In proportion, many people work in sectors such as education, social care, or healthcare with increased exposure risk. Positive discrimination is also justified by the fact that women are more exposed to domestic abuse and gender inequality.

Scapegoats of the Pandemic

The list of COVID-19 scapegoats would require separate analysis, here are just a few examples.

Different ethnic groups were among the first to experience indirect and even direct discrimination related to infections. Many social groups are in an economically vulnerable position, exacerbating their problems during the pandemic.

Physicians have to make difficult decisions about who has access to scarce medical equipment, which has been the case in every country today in terms of the closed-end capacities of health care that have been weakened by more or less all political leadership for decades. In some countries, the elderly is at particular risk of refusing treatment. Mortality among older citizens is higher due to viral infection, in which the proportion and severity of chronic diseases occurring with increasing average age also play a role. Because of the frightening post-COVID syndrome, the danger is already affecting younger and younger age groups.

Meanwhile, the dangers of globalization are becoming clear as global supply chains for key medical devices, chemicals and food are disrupted. Countries are discovering that they can no longer produce the basic products they need, including basic medical supplies, country-by-country bargaining instead of regional consensus, international solidarity is rapidly declining, potential markets are being “scouted”, raising prices and procurement.

Major pharmaceutical and other companies are competing to develop treatments and vaccines. At the time of writing, the professional authorities in the world, trained for this purpose and with an appropriate control system, have decided on the full and six partial reception and authorization of seven vaccines. Another 22 are on the target line, and another 76 are already in a promising position, including the release of vaccines against new variants. It is hoped that the supply market for COVID-19 vaccines and the supply will expand significantly within a month or two, by the second half of the year. It is only hoped that cheap, generic vaccine, pharmaceutical and medical equipment products will be publicly available, and at the same time are not subject to restrictive patents and selective pricing. We do not yet know this today; we only hope that this situation of injustice will improve in the post-virus world.

Unfortunately, there are also bad signs, the lack of mechanical ventilation in countries like Bangladesh, India, or even The United States, partly unfortunately due in part to the fact that companies often prefer to produce more expensive and highly profitable models over cheaper base models. Scarce bidding wars are already breaking out, which can only be tackled jointly on the basis of transparent global principles. Instead, the proliferation of “raiders” around the world and opaque, overpriced (suspected of corruption) solutions (such as the multiple prices per dose of Sinopharm vaccine compared to Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna) have also led to diligence in good faith, but even diligence. Not to mention the intermediary role of the offshore company of unknown background. How interesting, in the case of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine, the National Public Health Center was able to negotiate directly with the Russian side. Public discussion of credibility, trust, direct communication, mistakes, misunderstandings with people would help a lot even on the issue of vaccination willingness.

Social Democracy for Social Democratic and Conservative Governments

Given that, in this crisis situation, the trade market is shrinking in a sense and the need for government intervention is obvious. One might think that the era of a democracy with a reformed social dimension has come. Evidently, these include wage subsidies that are financially and appropriately extended, suspension of fiscal restraints, significant extensions of job search time, suspension of debt repayments, adaptive tax, and some other policies, as well as generous income support for publicly available health services and patients and the unemployed. This is not so-called. a much-criticized aid-based policy, it’s life-saving for the tax-paying people who are already working tomorrow. Moreover, the often selfish, by easing the centralizations aimed at concentrating power, the support of the most efficiently functioning local governments at the local level can also be included here, without any political discrimination. All this would also be a significant step forward in retaining jobs. In most countries, even governments are abandoning neoliberal fiscal restraints in order to spend billions to fight the pandemic and support their collapsing economies.

The need for flexible behavior by opposition governments in a similar position in terms of challenges cannot, therefore, be sufficiently obvious. This is the point at which a government is confronted with whether its proclaimed ideologies are now, but at least voices that have lost their value in a given period, or can be relied upon in such a situation as has never been seen before in the age of modern democracies. It is then, or just now, that it will be decided whether power will be able to defeat its voiced and once-considered pragmatic principles and make citizens feel safe and less afraid of the already sometimes nightmarish health and of a pandemic and economic catastrophe of this magnitude.

This crisis and its consequences will not go away any time soon. Greater security is expected in the long run through science-based, meaningful, teacher-based, decentralized and responsible knowledge transfer, educational policy renewal, and reorganized health care. Yet, this prolonged frustration can, unfortunately, exacerbate xenophobia as well as the existing social and economic divisions in the world and in our country as well. This should include the continuous and proactive fight against discrimination against disadvantaged groups in most countries of the world. Ensuring the political participation of young people and people with disabilities in the self-determination of democracy in both developing and developed countries is particularly promising.

What Does the Pandemic Reveal About the Political Class?

First of all, let us be clear: as far as the political departments are concerned, within them, the responsibilities of the leaders who are currently leading, governing and legislating, making the decision to impose a state of emergency, are incomparably greater than those of the opposition. From the latter, an assessment of the situation, realistic and proactive criticism and, if there is anything, support for sound decisions can be expected.

The hysterical nature of vaccination decisions in some places is not just a domestic problem. At the same time, during and after the 13-14 months spent in the midst of the pandemic, in many countries, unfortunately, in the case of a meat-cutting challenge, the very weak concept of action and the roaring systemic failures came to light. The evident lack of a vaccination program, the tragic bankruptcy of databases, simply justifies the complete unsuitability of the system. Sometimes, before or during the introduction of changes, like other international actors, it may be necessary to say at home that we were wrong, that we were misjudged, or that we did not seem to be properly prepared. Instead, the “one-man show” and a press with a synchronized rhyme close to the government, unwilling to do anything but rhythmic applause, and the echoed demagoguery of “troll commandos” cynically humiliate and harass citizens who sometimes seem weak-minded on a daily basis. The unbridled squabbling of the national-saving pose and hybris boasts arbitrarily collected data debris while silencing other sadly true facts. After all, the reaction to all criticism is that everyone who criticizes something is “anti-government”. We are witnesses and victims of amazing arrogance and performance that faces serious truth-telling challenges.

Yet what forced many large universities to voluntarily, thoughtlessly privatize higher education without guarantees and impact studies, handing over the flagships of Bangladeshi intellectual life to “friendly” boards of trustees?

Why was the payment of alms-level wage subsidies delayed for months, even compared to our neighbors? In other cases, everything can be arranged in one night, from the signing of the head of state to many other executive orders, so why wait so long? Isn’t there just a flat, slender concreting power intent behind it?

And let’s talk about vaccines and vaccination points. For example, municipalities can no longer be entrusted with vaccination while people are crowded at vaccination points, which is a hotbed of the COVID virus they received with the vaccination. Isn’t it because they promise to “carpet” the virus for themselves by promising other vaccination deadlines every day? Why is it necessary to juggle planned vaccination numbers that change daily? To avoid panic? Panic develops into an inconsistent, self-revealing accumulation of inconsistencies! We remember the emblematic example of a shepherd boy shouting a wolf.

Why do they fear the relevant arguments of local governments that increase the vaccination of people by involving many vaccination points? Isn’t it the most important thing to get vaccinated as soon as possible? Why is the vaccination plan secreted, the existence of which is doubtful after so much secrecy? Haven’t had enough time for it in the last 14-15 months? And if not, what have you been busy with for the last two months? We didn’t know from the first moment that vaccination is the most important defense against the Pandemic? Why do we not know the exact number of each vaccine used and in stock? Why is math not right about the number of vaccines available in the country? Why is it not possible to know the real workload of intensive care units, the number of COVID and non-COVID patients?

It would be heresy if every registered citizen had the opportunity and the right to find out how many vaccines are available on our stock, don’t God forbid what the situation is in his place of residence?

They just won’t want to say to the massively offered, internationally authentically and transparently controlled vaccine offer in a short time that they thank you, don’t we ask, we already have enough?

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