Democracy in the Time of Coronavirus


In the time of Coronavirus, many people question the principles of democracy because freedom seems to be “infringed upon” in many ways: people, a one point or for a period of time, must stay home, control gatherings, wear masks, practice social-distancing, and follow restricted travel guidelines. The ways of life are indeed, affected. However, it is too hasty for anyone to ascertain that democracy is hindered and people have lost their freedom. In a democracy, the welfare of the public shall always be the top priority; it is up to a country to rally or react and optimize crisis-response outcomes -- at times, certain sacrifices are expected and inevitable. While a problematic government may use the pandemic as a ploy to oppress its civilians or manipulate information, a true leader can always abide by democratic principle to best work for his people’s wellbeing and benefit.

Many countries showed a leadership debacle where violence or abuse of power resulted from lockdowns and pandemic mitigation measures manifesting itself through politicization and ideological propaganda. Freedom House researches the impact of COVID-19 on democracy and human rights. Based on a study on 192 countries, it proposes that “the COVID-19 pandemic is exacerbating the 14 years of consecutive decline in freedom…. The findings illustrate the breadth and depth of the assault on democracy.” Taking a closer look at home -- America, the world’s leading democracy, under the previous administration, it declines in its international standing due to dubious narratives and false information about the pandemic. Under the current administration, we start to see the light at the end of the tunnel and things are trending in the right direction. Democracy is intact: it can deliver for people under the current government.

Interesting enough, whether the time of Coronavirus is spent in campaigns of tyrannical threats, harassment, or manipulation has very little to do with a country’s political system. While authoritarians are quick to restrict individual freedoms, they are not the only ones during this time to make tough choices and decisions. Can democracy, then, survive the time of Coronavirus and deliver for its people what it is designed to do: liberty and justice for all – a country of the people, by the people, and for the people? Premature speculations on the future of democracy abounds. However, all the evidence of infringement upon democratic values does not necessarily decree failure or death of democracy. Rather, it portends how a leader can lose or win the battle with a virus, as well as how crucial it is to have a sanguine leadership to carry a country out of the shadow of this time. The lesson here is clear: one must rethink and always bear in mind the necessary checks and balances for the wellbeing of the public, no matter who is in power or what political philosophy is in favor.


新型冠状病毒时期的民主社会

新型冠状病毒流行时期,许多人质疑民主原则,因为自由似乎在很多方面都受到“侵犯”:人们在疫情肆虐​​时必须呆在家里隔离、控制集会、戴口罩,并于进行社交活动时保持一定的距离,遵守限制性的旅行指南。人们的生活方式确实受到了影响。然而,草率地声称民主受到阻碍、人民失去自由是不必要的。在民主国家,公众的福利永远是最重要的;国家应该团结起来面对危机并做出及时有效的反应 -- 有时,某些牺牲乃在意料之中,是不可避免的。虽然某些腐败的政府可能会利用病毒流行来压迫平民或操纵信息,但真正的领导者始终可以遵守民主原则,以为人民的福祉和利益服务。

许多国家皆出现领导阶层崩溃的状况,社区封锁和病毒流行缓解措施导致权力或暴力的滥用,这些措施通过政治化和意识形态的宣传而实施。自由之家研究新型冠状病毒时期对民主和人权的影响。根据其针对 192 个国家的研究显示:“新型冠状病毒流行正在加剧人类自由连续 14 年下降的趋势…。调查结果说明了对民主的攻击之广度和深度。”仔细看看美国境内 -- 作为领先世界的民主国家的美国,在前一届政府的领导下,由于有关病毒流行的可疑叙述和虚假信息,其国际地位下降。而在现任政府领导下,我们开始看到隧道尽头的曙光,国家也正朝着正确的方向发展。民主完好无损:证实民主制度可以为人民提供服务。

有趣的是,新型冠状病毒时期是否花费在专制威胁、骚扰或操纵的政治活动中,与一个国家的政治制度几乎没有重大关系。虽然威权主义者限制个人自由,但在这段时间里,他们并不是唯一做出艰难选择和决定的人;自由主义者也同样面临策略上的挑战。那么,民主能否在新型冠状病毒时期幸存下来,并为其人民提供民权,实现其原则上的目标:为所有人提供自由和正义 -- 一个民有、民治、民享的国家?对民主未来的猜测比比皆是。然而,侵犯民主价值观的情况并不一定会导致民主的失败或死亡。相反地,它预示着一个领导者如何在与病毒的战斗中运作可能输掉或赢得这场战斗,以及社会国家如何需求一个英明的领导者来带领而走出这个时期的阴影。此处之教训显而易见:无论在位掌权是何人、无论您支持哪种政治哲学,人们必须重新思考并始终牢记必要的制衡措施,以确保公众的福祉。