On the Electoral System

So Hannah’s been complaining that that our political system has been twisted and  we no longer vote for ideas and beliefs, rather than to people. And I couldn’t agree with her more. But the more I read her blog, the more I realised we had it all wrong.

The untrustworthy system

Our political system, wherever that may be, is dysfunctional and the average person’s ability to change that is traditionally limited to once every years. We cannot trust this system as a whole. If we could- we would used it to our advantage and put some thought before casting our vote to the smirk-jotted-greased-hair politician. So the best we could hope for is a trust-worthy representative, that will actually do as a he promises, because – “what good can a well-promising politician do if he cannot keep up to his words?”

The greatest negotiators

I would like to believe that all politicians are well-intended, at least initially and they all hoped to serve their community to the best of their knowledge and abilities. But it’s not as easy as it may appear, as we all basically want the same things – good education, a stable economy, a social security and a prosperous society. But people have different priorities and different strategies to achieve these goals.

Let’s take the budget as an indicator for priority. We all know that education is important, but some of believe in promoting the best students while other believe the extra resources should be allocated to help to students with difficulties. Other think we should subsidise students based on the economical status and not their grades. Others believe that while education is important, our safety precedes that altogether. Our politicians claim that given a certain amount of resources they can produce the best budget. They may claim that education is more important than safety but sitting to do the works, we’ll have to face the hard-cold truth that safety requires resources too. At this point, we trust out politician to make the best decision for us and work according to their promises but without ignoring reality. I don’t need a politician with big words and elaborated agendas. I need a politician that gets the job done. And that is exactly what they claim. And this is exactly why we vote for them.

In another example, imagine being a politician for a local municipality who needs to decide between helping the local factory and town’s main source of income survive the recession or addressing the pollution caused by that very same factory. Both issues are important and an ideologist would be consider heartless or short-sighted if he choose to ignore any of them. You can promise as much as you like to keep both the factory running and the lake clean, but at the end of the day- the intervention of a force major to aid you (in the form of money to green-ify the factory) isn’t really something you can count on. Neither do your opponents but they make promises anyhow. And usually voters will go the best promise and not the candid representative who admitted to have no magic tricks up his sleeves.

The missing ingredient

So in essence, there’s nothing wrong with voting for a person, as opposed to voting for a set of ideas. I would like to have more politicians that (1) think like me; (2) can get the job done; (3) are trust-worthy and honest. Sadly, we usually can get only two out of these three traits, if not less than that.

What we’re missing is accountability. It’s that sword that we should be holding close to the politicians’ neck so when they’ll fail us, they’ll be gone. And not surprisingly they’re against it. I can’t blame them. A politician job is difficult enough as it is, navigating between the different agendas and struggling not to be tempted by the corruptive forces of leadership. But this is something that we, the citizens, must demand.

Our political system, wherever that may be, is dysfunctional and the average person’s ability the change that is officially traditionally limited to once every years. Political activities might goes to rallies and protests and some even riot, but all eventually doesn’t change the fact that politicians are in power up to the moment when we vote to someone else. Accountability, may come as the citizens’ power to kick a leader out of this office in the middle of his term, or may come at the denial to re-election for a politician that haven’t kept his promises. Accountability would bring back the meaningfulness of promises. Promises should be kept.

And a final word about the politics of fear

The words “Vote for X if you don’t want Y in your goverment” are not exclusive to anywhere in the world. This phrase is a manipulative lie, as simple as that. It’s a lie because if I don’t like Y, I won’t vote for it and Y wouldn’t get to the goverment, regardless if I vote for X or not. It’s manipulative as it exploits my opinion on Y to dissuade me to vote according to my personal beliefs.

Someone else will vote for Y to get it elected, regardless of my personal taste and choice. Let’s say there’s an indicted corrupt politician running for office. Obviously I won’t vote for him, but apparently there are enough people who would that he might get elected. Because people would prefer the like-minded-get-the-job-done that failed his honesty test. And accountability should be the barrier from such politicians.

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