Representing Democracy

The most memorable times of the Machiavelli seminar was probably the evenings we sat at JJ’s with the professors, chilling after the long days of lectures and discussions. Once, one of our professors shared how he thought Italy had changed since the first Machiavelli seminar 6 years ago. He observed that the atmosphere and social mood had become more optimistic. There are more couples with young children, more young adults who are more optimistic about their job, housing and getting married. This was a stark contrast with how he found the locals to be 6 years back, when they were more pessimistic and less confident about finding stability.

 

Yet, this increased confidence in the future has not been brought about by political nor economic stability. Since the inconclusive election in March to the end of our short program in Florence, Italy had been struggling to form a coalition government. Even after the new coalition government had been formed, Italy still faces much economic uncertainty.

 

Often, the way we look towards the future and have dreams and hopes are dependent on the political and economic stability of our country. When instability arises, many of us look abroad to search better conditions and opportunities to realize our dream. We also often blame the ruthless politics between politicians and parties for the social divides and social pessimism about the future. However, we forget that politics and governance is meant to reflect the wills and moods of the people, not the other way round.

 

Living in a democracy, we have to remember that politics is meant to represent the people and not the people representing the political parties. Identifying with either major parties limits us to two possible identities. Yet, there are many people who may be socially liberal and fiscally conservative, or vice versa. There is no black and white in our political identities, but the whole of society represent a spectrum of preferences and leanings. Instead of lettings political parties define us, we should define what our political parties represent. Instead of letting political competition cause divides and disharmony in society, we should influence the political climate with optimism.

 

Palazzo Vecchio, Florence
US Capitol Hill

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