Opposition is never easy but on Tuesday the country saw a unique case of peaceful opposition in a period when government nationally is becoming more intolerant of dissent at its decisions and where announcements are expected to be received unquestioningly. The example comes from a book that warns of dictatorship.

Cinemas

When Donald Trump became President the sales of George Orwell’s book “1984” surged and it returned to the New York Times’ bestseller list. As reported by the BBC, yesterday more than 200 art house cinemas around the country showed a movie version of the film.

The date is a symbol of the book which marked the first day of the protagonist’s act of rebellion against #Big Brother’s dictatorship; by writing a diary.

Advertisements
Advertisements

Themes

The book returned to popularity because its themes of dictatorship and censorship are perceived by many members of the public as being relevant to the current #White House. While the protests may seem an act to supporters of the President, it does raise issues that are more than relevant to any government and not just to the current Administration.

In fact, one of the strange things about the big increase of sales of the book is that it should send warning signals to the Congressmen and Senators of the Republican Party. For a Party with a proud tradition of defending #Democracy in the United States and abroad, it should be more than a little dismaying for many of them that their own President is seen as authoritarian and not authoritative.

Democracy

Orwell’s book makes frightening reading and the one aspect that has most relevance to the current Administration is the use of language to falsify the past and the present to change the future.

Advertisements

Its protagonist Winston Smith works in the Ministry of Love, the dictatorship’s propaganda branch, and his job is not only to change the definition of words but also to eliminate rivals or delete whole chapters of history to justify changes of direction by Big Brother or to explain that losses were actually defeats.

When Kellyanne Conway used the phrase “alternative facts” and President Trump accuses the Press and his opponents of spreading “fake news” they tacitly acknowledge the warning contained in the book and the film.

Worse still, the refusal to acknowledge worries by the Democrats and the protests of the public against Oval Office orders or against changes of laws such as the Affordable Care Act that affect the quality of life for the general public are a denial of a simple fact of Democracy, that the government represents all the population and not only a small part.

Role

For this reason in any Democracy the Opposition has a vital role to play in the proper running of government.

Advertisements

This is officially recognized with the structures of the permanent Committees in both the Senate and Congress with the majority as the Chair and the minority as the Deputy.

This recognition should extend to the whole Administration beginning within the White House and also to the Supreme Court where the over representation of any single group is a potential danger to the neutrality of the country’s highest Court, a danger that the Republicans at times seem to forget.

While it may be easy to see an election as a competition with the winner taking all, Democracy is not this. Electoral victory gives responsibility to the Office holder and does not give him or her absolute power, which is the antithesis of Democracy.

Intolerance of dissenting opinion may disguise the fact that the dissention may in fact be the right answer to a problem. Automatically following orders is not Democratic because it does not allow for proper examination of any law or order before it is issued. These are all matters that have hit this Administration since the Inauguration.

For these reasons we must remember the message of “1984” and also of a popular American saying “There is only one thing worse than a bad loser, that’s a bad winner.”

There is a reason for opposition and it is important, it is the price of Democracy.