Whenever I have a political discussion with many of the elites, the gist of the conversation is always the same.
In their mindset, there are “the superior” and “the inferior.” To them, it’s neither just nor fair that “the inferior” should have equal rights to “the superior.”
Namely, one person, one vote.
First, let’s define elites. The particular group we are discussing here is Generation X. Those in their 40s and 50s. People who came of age during the 1980s and 1990s. They are from well-to-do families and studied abroad. They have degrees from well-reputed western universities.
They speak English fluently, if not near fluent. They are fashionable and cosmopolitan. They have strong opinions in American politics and global issues, such as the environment and gender equality.
Now, let’s define “the inferior.” Many elites genuinely believe that most Thais don’t have the educational background (university degrees), the ethical standard (they sell their votes), or the intellectual capacity necessary for democracy. They believe “the inferior” is superstitious and corrupted.
But let’s throw in a disclaimer, not all elites think like this, but too many do, while many others genuinely want democracy.
The conversation often starts the same way. They know well enough that General Prayut Chan-o-cha just can’t cut it. But they hate Thaksin Shinawatra and fear Thanatorn Juangroongruangkit. So they choose the “least evil.”
But of course, love and hate are emotions that are cursed by blindness, deafness, and dumbness, which could be beautiful in the romantic sense but are utterly idiotic in the political realm.
So, never mind who you love or hate. How about a system that is fair and just? How about good governance? Can we all agree on that? Then, whoever wins the election, wins. Fair enough?
Of course, it’s fair enough.
But when you propose the rewriting of the constitution to fix the “unfair, unjust, and unchecked” power so that the citizens of Thailand would have the right to one person, one vote (equality before the law), the conclusion by many elites is always the same.
It’s not fair for “the inferior” to have equal rights to “the superior.” They are not educated enough.
Therefore, Thailand is not ready for democracy.
Of course, if one doesn’t have the education level and the intellectual capacity to grasp democracy, it’s always a struggle to have a democracy. But even in a developed democracy, a lot of people don’t understand democracy.
Life sucks. Some people were born rich, and some were born poor. Some have better opportunities than others. Some hit the lottery, and some don’t. Some are born into lovely families, and some are born into abusive families. Some are born whole, and some are born with handicaps.
But regardless, democracy affords everyone equality before the law, such as one person, one vote. Life sucks, that’s why we strive for the good governance of fairness and justice for the betterment of humanity.
Good governance isn’t “I have an Ivy League degree, so I deserve more rights than others.”
So, while many elites have an “inferior” understanding of democracy and aren’t educated in good governance, the fairness of democracy still affords them equal rights before the law.
The same rights as with the students who are out there are protesting; and all the uncles and aunties supporting them. The people who have a “superior” understanding of what democracy is.
The incurable disease of hating your nation. Another example is two of the most powerful people in Thailand. General Prayut and Army Chief General Apirat Kongsompong.
Singers of the song “Don’t Hate the Nation.”
According to the logic of many elites, the two men should not have the same rights as others. After all, they can’t even grasp simple democratic concepts such as freedom of speech and checks and balances.
They mistake the demand for democracy with the hate for a nation.
They, too, have an “inferior” understanding of democracy and aren’t educated in good governance, yet democracy affords them equal rights before the law as with everyone else.
The “inferior” are too backward with their superstition. This is true. We Thais are superstitious folks. Ghosts, kama, and making merits are integral to our culture.
The prime minister unbuttoned his shirt and showed the entire nation the collection of talismans hanging from his necklace; the billionaires who donate to the temple to ensure that they will again be billionaires in the next life.
Rich folks buy fish to release into the sea and birds to release into the sky, so that the working class can catch them again and sell to another group of rich folks to release again, to ensure good karma in this life and the next.
Many elites would say these rich folks aren’t mentally equipped for democracy. But democracy recognizes that faith is personal, and still affords them equal rights before the law.
The “inferior” are too corrupted. It’s true. Cheating the law is rampant in Thailand. The “esteemed” judges and the “honorable” officers on the case of the Red Bull heir Vorayuth “Boss” Yoovidhya, for example.
Rich folks, high society folks, and botoxed celebrities who wreaked havoc in the streets. Preventing a democratic election and inviting a military coup. They lack the education to grasp the concept of democracy and hence are “inferior,” according to many elites.
Yet, democracy affords them equal rights before the law.
So the conclusion is this: Democracy affords equal rights to everyone, including the people who have an “inferior” education and understanding about democracy.
Therefore, dear elites, the students, and the uncles and aunties out there are standing up for your rights.