Democracy Reform

Sir Winston Churchill once said that democracy is the worst form of government except for all the rest. He is right. Its the best form of government but it also has its flaws. I think that its flaws endanger democracy and needs to be fixed. This blog is for like minded people who want to see democracy improved. I invite people to sumbit essays. I will publish even those I do not agree with so long as I find them interesting.

Monday, September 08, 2008

The year of the unknown votrepreneurs

Sarah Palin's selection as the Republican Vice Presidential candidate has shaken up the race. Currently polls shows a reversal of fortune as McCain surges ahead of Obama in the polls.

First the American voter turned to an unknown politician, Barack Obama in great enthusiasm and now they are turning again to another unknown politician, Sarah Palin, with equal entusiasm. What's going on here?

Americans are tired of the war in Iraq and worried about the economy. They want their country to take a new direction. Bush has low approval ratings at around 35%. Congress has even lower approval ratings at around 17%. This desire for change was shrewdly spotted by that brilliant votrepreneur, Barack Obama who embodies that possibility. He is black and talks well.

The fact that they don't know much about him allowed voters to fill him with their hopes which can never be fulfilled without blood, sweat and tears. It is very scary that someone as unaccomplished and inexperienced as Obama could be so close to getting power in the world's most powerful country. After all, he was Senator for only three years and part of that time was spent campaigning for the Presidency. Well, that's democracy for you.

Now McCain is also campaigning as an agent of change by picking Sarah Palin as his running mate. Calling himself a maverick, he is going to distance himself as far away from Bush and his Republican Party as possible. Making promises that can never be kept is the stock in trade for votrepreneurs.

Can either candidate make the changes they promised? I doubt it though once in a long while, someone comes along and actually does something. The problem is systemic. Its not the votrepreneurs' fault. They have to labor under the constraints that the system imposes.

I have long written about the flaws of democracy - the short term nature of the decision making, the difficulty in giving out necessary but bitter medicine etc - that I will not repeat myself here. But for meaningful change to come, the electorate must be pushed to the point where their backs are at the edge of the cliffs before they will respond to a Statesman's call for sacrifice instead of a votrepreneur's selling of more snake oil.

The American voter is not there yet.


At 2:47 AM, Blogger Fjordman said...

Hello, Ohmyrus. I have been busy publishing at other websites, but will hopefully send something your way soon. I'm just writing a review of Ali Sina's book Understanding Muhammad, but since it's about Islam, maybe it's more appropriate to publish it at Jihad Watch.

You are right. Currently, the democratic system isn't working properly in the USA. In fact, it isn't working properly in any Western country. It is more or less dead in Western Europe, where most of the real power has been transferred to the unelected organs of the European Union, anyway.

Virtually all Western countries have lost control over their borders. This is not a sustainable situation. You can call your political system a democracy, a dictatorship, a republic, a monarchy or whatever you want, but a country that does not control its territory will eventually die. It's inevitable.

The situation is made worse by the fact that globalization of transportation has put severe pressure on our nations in a manner which did not exist only a few decades ago. When the first Christian Gospels were written down at the end of the first century AD, the population of the entire Roman Empire was about 60 million people. This mirrors the annual global population growth in the early twenty-first century. In other words: The global population grows by another Roman Empire every single year. Our system wasn't designed for such numbers. It needs fundamental change, or it will collapse into civil wars or dictatorships or both.

We also have a situation where some left-wing parties in particular deliberately import Muslims because they vote overwhelmingly for left-wing parties. A political system where it pays to import enemies obviously isn't sustainable.

At 2:50 AM, Blogger Fjordman said...

When I criticize democracy, this should not be taken as an indication that I believe in elitist rule. I criticize it because it clearly doesn’t automatically ensure freedom of speech and security for life and property, which is the hallmark of true liberty. Another problem is that it isn’t always the best system for long-term decisions because people tend to prefer short-term gains. I still believe, however, that there should be a powerful element of real public influence, to curtail the potential for absolute rulers and abuse of power. We have clearly veered too far in the direction of the latter with the EU, where the ruling elites have skillfully eliminated any constraints on their power.

The democratic system has significant flaws, but it worked to some extent as long as there was sense of being a demos, a people with a shared identity and common interests. What we are witnessing now is the gradual breakdown of this demos, starting from the top down. Powerful groups frequently have more in common with the elites in other countries than they have with the average citizen in their own. If you no longer believe in your nation as a real entity with a specific culture, it simply becomes a tool for obtaining power, a stepping stone for your global career. Without a pre-political loyalty, emotional ties or even a pragmatic interest in supporting nation states, the democratic system becomes a vehicle for distributing favors to your friends at home and abroad, for fleecing the voters while in power and hopefully ensuring a lucrative international career along the way. You will have few moral inhibitions against importing voters from abroad for maintaining power or because your business buddies who give you financial support desire it. This process is related to technological globalization, but it has gone further in the self-loathing West than in any other civilization.

Average citizens who still identify with their nation states thus keep electing people who betray their trust. Since the elites identify little with the nations they are supposed to serve, more power to them will only make matters worse, as it already has in Europe. Corrupt and incompetent individuals will always exist. If you get a corrupt leader every now and then you are dealing with a flawed individual. If you constantly, again and again, get corrupt leaders you are dealing with a flawed system. Our political system is now deeply flawed. The problem is that I cannot easily see how to fix it.

At 8:42 PM, Blogger Ohmyrus said...

I agree with you that we need a powerful element of public influence in government. Nobody wants to live in a dictatorship. The question is how much? Full or direct democracy where every decision is made by the entire electorate is obviously not feasible. The average voter does not have the time or knowledge to make complex decisions that requires the expertise of specialists. In other words we must strike a balance between expertise and popular will. Too little popular will results in dictatorship. Too much leads to chaos. Present democracies have not struck the golden mean. That's why we need reforms.


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