You may be forgiven for thinking that the terms in the title of this short post are mutually exclusive. Particularly if you have been listening to any of the absurdities spouted by politicians these last few days.
In the aftermath of the 2015 local elections, it appears everything is up for grabs - including truth - and the sight of politicians salivating publicly in their lust for power, or resorting to defamation and libel as they see power slipping though their podgy fingers, is enough to make one despair and turn aside. But hold on, the story is not over yet...
A Clash of Values
The fanatic struggle for power in Madrid is bringing out the best and worst in people. With Espe Aguirre's ego dented and the threat of being ousted by a group of what she calls "bolsheviks micro-funded online and renting cheap offices in the capital", her once rock-steady boat in the centre of Spain has been dutifully upturned.
And its precisely the figure head of Manuela Carmona that appears to be doing the rocking, merely by offering herself up as a candidate free from corruption, as someone that cycles to work rather than rides in a limousine, someone free from any manipulation of the media, no history of dismantling public services and no history of speaking without thinking first.
But it's not just what Manuela has not done that is important, it's what she has done. Manuela Carmena - has always been a defender of workers rights. As an active lawyer she was arrested under Franco, fighting for the rights of the oppressed. She co-founded the lawyers office in Madrid that fought for workers rights - the very same office that went down in history as Black Monday
On the 27 jan. 1977, as the transition to "democracy" limped painfully forward, the office of Manuela Carmona at Calle Atocha 55 was invaded by right wing armed militants. They shot nine people. 6 died.
2015: May. Espe Aguirre - sinking in her own pile of excrement - accused Manuela of being part of a threat to "democracy" and offered to lead a coalition of all other parties to save Spain from the biggest threat to western democracy: Manuela Carmona and her political party - Ahora Madrid.
It is difficult not to conclude that Espe is - once more - playing the manipulative politician here, or - like Thatcher in her final days - she is mentally unstable. As someone who once worked in a psychiatric institution, my professional opinion is that were she to be brought to me for diagnosis, I would have her incarcerated immediately and placed in an isolation ward - for the safety of the general public.
Democracy in Spain
So what do we mean when we sling the word "democracy" around? Well, it would not be unreasonable to define it as a form of political representation that encourages participation from citizens, rather than passivity. That it means giving all people a voice rather than always speaking for them, and it means honesty, transparency and accountability. Perhaps most important of all, it means speaking from an informed point of view as opposed to making up facts on the spur of the moment to suit your own agenda.
When Aguirre was questioned where she got the idea that Ahora Madrid would be establishing "soviets in the barrios of Madrid", she had to admit she had never read their political program at all.
As an old an venerated politician once reminded us, the questions we should ask when talking about democracy are: "What power have you got? Where did you get it from? In whose interests do you exercise it? To whom are you accountable? And how can we get rid of you?"
I would add to this just one more: And have you been taught to read?