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Patanjali Sokaris

Pondering the universe

Politicians still don't get it

Many politicians still seem to fail to understand why they are not trusted by voters. Hint: Their allegiance is not to their voters.

Allegiance is to their party ^

Politicians are voted for by eligible voters in their electorate or state. However, before they even get to an election, they will typically have been part of a political party for a long while, proving their loyalty to that party.

If they show some aptitude for espousing the party line, they may serve as office staff to an existing member so they learn the political ropes, perhaps eventually being selected to stand for a seat for which they may not have much hope of winning, especially if they are a woman.

Given that investment by a party, over a long period of time, candidates are likely to have a large sense of indebtedness to the party. We see it manifest as a willingness to be blind to their own party's faults, but also to repeatedly be emphasising differences between their own party and the others, rather than framing their talk in terms of benefit to all citizens.

Politics is a fickle business, and candidates come and go, and many voters will change their minds from one election to the next. In contrast, a political party (hopefully) presents a consistent face/brand to the public, so that that voters can vote for their candidates, knowing fairly well what the candidates basically believe, without having to delve too deeply into their characters.

However, the diversity of aspirations of the membership of parties is creating so much ideological stress in parties that some seem to having difficulty presenting a unified front, with factions now openly fighting each other, even overthrowing leaders for no other reason than to fulfil ideological power ambitions, voters be damned.

Limited ideologies ^

In the past, while economic prosperity was really the only concern voters had, the ideologies espoused by different parties basically flowed along class lines. Haves and have nots.

With the rise of middle classes, the achievement of some measure of economic well-being enabled them to think beyond mere household balance sheets, and into the type of society they wanted. That thinking was dispurptive to the simple-minded philosophies that parties could previously get away with.

That hasn't stopped some parties, particularly those so-called 'conservative' ones, from continuously trying to return political thinking to something they have been used to peddling. You can fool some of the people some of the time.

These conservative parties have difficulty adapting to the newer aspirations of their electorates, and are particularly inept at coming to terms with the resource constraints and coming disruption due to climate change.

They are basically in denial, perhaps because too many of those backing them do not want their enormous profits derived from unconstrained resource consumption to be affected. Of course, those voters who don't want to acknowledge that they may have to change will support them, blindly thinking that somehow it will all go away if they don't believe it.

Deluded voters aside, the failure of politicians to accommodate the multiplicity of voters concerns into a coherent policy framework that reaches beyond their traditional thinking has blunted voter trust.

Really, if a simpleton ideology is all that needs to be followed to ensure a stable economy and fair society, we just need an app for it, and a vote to replace all the politicians with it.

Peoples' aspirations change over time, while the earth's resources and ability to continue to fulfil our selfish expectations diminishes, so an ideology is not enough. We need politicians that have a more holistic view of society and the earth, rather than throwing money at rich people and lying to the rest of us.

Need for power ^

Coupled with a belief in an ideology, is the belief that they must have the reigns of power to make sure it is implemented.

An ideology is a set of beliefs, but because people seem to have a problem with incompleteness, there is a tendency to either fill in the gaps, even if it is made up, or discard/ignore what doesn't fit in with it. We see this in religions, and political ideologies are not exempt.

The problems start when the assuptions are made that:

  1. a.The ideology is good enough to be universally applied.
  2. b.Its adherents must be the ones to implement it.

This thinking starts a process that sets the party priority to being in and retaining power, rather than serving the good of the people. It is also behind why they can feel they do not need to change.

It is made worse when democracy is sabotaged by gerrymandering and stacking public institutions to ensure that the party ideology and apparatus remains in power, in preference to the peoples' will.

Don't have all the answers ^

Politicians seem to think that they need to have all the answers, which may explain why they have a reliance on ideologies.

Typically, politicians will try to oversimplify issues into terms that emphasise their party's ideology and its advantages. What they seem to miss is that their ideology is not capable of adapting, and that will only change if they stop trying to pretend that it is unequivocally true, and a universal panacea for the world's problems.

That means that they need to be responsive to a changing world, and realise that they don't know all the answers, so enjoin in cooperation to ascertain what is the most practical means of achieving the most realisable improvements to society. We are part of a work-in-progress.

So, between conflicting allegiances, failure to grasp the realities of the current world situation, and a persistent power grab for their own benefit, voters are rightfully sceptical of politicians.

What can we do? ^

We are sacrificing democracy by continuing to support political parties, but what can we do?

The actions we can take are pushing for full public funding for:

  1. a.Candidates.
  2. b.Displaying a complete legislation voting record of each representative.
  3. c.Fact-checking every claim candidates and representatives make.

Basically, it means removing candidates from reliance on political parties for support, and presenting their track record in a way that voters can see and compare.

We can also push for conscience voting for all representatives, with no repercussions allowed from their parties. This is to mitigate against back-room deals being made which the party's members are just expected to unequivocally support.

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