Thursday, February 6, 2014

A Functioning Democracy

Pieter Hintjens

Although I don't aim to be a political writer, politics does often provide the most tangible examples of mad mobs. US politics, to take a large example, has [a lot of negatives] and has produced nonsensical results like the election of transparently incompetent and unethical presidents.

A cynical observer would see deliberate strategy at work here. Drive public opinion towards stupidity by focusing debate on emotional but unsolvable issues, or issues that invoke tribalism. Create spectator masses through television. Give political events the same look and feel as sporting events, including cheerleaders dressed up as Fox News anchors. One might even argue that mainstream political parties are like the red and blue arm bands: symbols of division lacking any substance.

If we accept this analysis that US politics is largely about not discussing the real issues, it should be a simple recipe to turn the mad mob of US democracy into a boring yet sane wise crowd. First, ban television coverage of party politics and televised political advertisements, no matter who pays. Second, treat discussions of sex, religion, ethnicity, or language in political debates as immoral, rude, and unethical. Third, ban public political events. Last, ban party colors, slogans, and other tribal marketing.

You might say such a democracy could never function, but actually there are many countries where this is roughly how things work. They tend to produce boring but competent governments that do not steal billions, do not declare war on other countries, and do not spy on their own citizens. Much of Europe is governed by such policies, formal or informal. The only cases in Europe where government starts to go mad is where tribalism gets added to the mix, like Belgium in certain seasons. But for the last year Belgium has worked well without any elected federal government at all.