Realistic-Optimistic Democracy Approach

Individually we are all one-eyed, leaders too, which is why the collective power of the people is so awesome

How many of today’s major political issues would still rank as major political issues if the objections of concerned voters had been genuinely listened to before politicians took things too far? Precisely. Very few. This is one of several key reasons our politically tumultuous times require a much greater respect for the collective wisdom inherent in voter verdicts. Certainly, neopaternalists like to point fingers at radical outliers and pretend these outliers make democracy unsafe. Such a tactic is deceitful for three key reasons. First, radicals exist in all political camps and on election day their votes tend to cancel one another. Second, there is plenty of reason to believe that most voters in most camps engage politically not by seeking radicalism but by seeking backtracking from the perceived radicalism of their opponents. So authentic radicals might be vocal but they still only represent minority opinion. Third, the by far most radical act, in any society, is not paying heed to voter verdicts. Regardless of how many so called pillars of society, in the pocket of those at the top, who are lined up to nod sagely while talking contradictory – and absurdly – about the need to rescue democracy by “temporarily” offsetting democracy. The key reason democracy beats all other political systems is, at the end of the day, that only voters will safeguard against the power grab tendency of every establishment that operates without such a safeguard. This has been proven so many times in history that those claiming otherwise should never be trusted. Since such people will be part of the power grab problem. Usually unknowingly even to themselves. 

Not only despotic regimes are weaker than many think but also regimes more sneakily eroding democracy

A major mistake, that power grabbers in every generation want us to make, is to overestimate the perceived capabilities of those at the top who enjoy massive powers of interpretation. Of course such leaders will exploit these powers to ensure that the government apparatus peddles glorious narratives about government stability, wisdom and support from the people. Of course such support will rest on various degrees of propaganda and – eventually – oppression. Such societies will moreover make lousy use of the collective brain power of the people. Meaning they will be a lot more clueless and weak than societies in which the narratives are not controlled from the top. Even though some people will, in open free society in which public quarrels are continuous, see only “the chaos”.

There really is no need to be surprised that we are presently, also in the Western World, experiencing the deepest establishment-vs-the people rift since the democratic breakthrough. Since power concentration does certainly not only hinder progress in countries such as Russia but also in countries that more slowly – and more sneakily – have eroded democracy by transferring powers from voters to unelected technocrats in internationalist organisations such as the EU, IMF, Central Banks etc. The problems started when a reform oriented and well intended Internationalist/Globalist establishment failed to stop when the continuous more-of-the-same agenda slided into excess terrain no longer well liked by voters. Real democrats and real moderates would have taken pride in achieved accomplishments since Internationalists/Globalists have indeed achieved great things, especially in relation to free trade, as long as reforms were in sync with voter sentiment. Again real democrats and real moderates would also have concluded that society is poorly served if pushing for more without a clear voter mandate. Unfortunately this was not the course chosen. The Internationalists/Globalists, riding on institutionalised powers and a close to unstoppable wave of (idealist) good faith and excitement, kept going while increasingly dismissing voter concerns as the concerns of simpletons. Like power grabbers across the ages such Internationalists/Globalists simultaneously convinced themselves that they really knew (know) better than the people what was (is) best for the people.

Then again, if voter disrespect is the problem (and it is) the solution is obvious

The logic also goes the other way. If voter disrespect is the problem voter respect is the solution. Democratic reinvigoration is in fact a foolproof way to return political stability and positive growth prospects. Simply because voters would no doubt support taking things down a notch. Or three. Depending on the issue and on how far the orchestrators of excess have overstepped. Backtracking from overshoot is precisely what politicians have been asked to do for quite some time. If doing things right there is a golden opportunity to move forward in a way that, for the first time ever, respects the concerns of both those recently disempowered in relative terms (the native working class) and those recently empowered in relative terms (ethnic minorities, women, non-heterosexuals).

So given that the right action is taken there should be little doubt that the future can be bright. Since there really is a lot more that unites than divides the population. Despite claims to the contrary made by the careerist paddlers of division on both sides of the establishment-versus-the-people divide. It is always worth bearing in mind that, at the end of the day, most people differ far less about the end-goals than about how those end-goals are best achieved. Who, really, does not want an intact democracy, extensive international co-operation, prudent monetary policies, gender equality as well as an honest and respectful public debate? ChristmasTruce2The quarrels are almost never about the actual objectives but about how to best achieve these objectives. So if we stop focusing on our largely invented differences and instead start focusing on our shared goals, we really can not only regain mutual respect but also reunite while at the same time re-establishing a new stable equilibrium.

This also means that we, in fact, are well positioned to relive, figuratively, the 1914 Christmas truce moment. The moment when German and allied soldiers shook hands on the battle field despite the quarrels initiated by unelected political paternalists. However, in 1914 war resumed already the following day. Why? Because all the paternalists responsible for the war were still in charge. Which is why we now need to make sure that politics is no longer hijacked by the people seeking top-down control. Those who do not see the irony when exploiting the-better together argument while simultaneously treating concerned voters with paternalist condescension.

Sure, smokescreens and tribal confusion also going forward but yet again the doomsayers will be proven wrong

Temporarily the road has to be bumpy because strongly institutionalised opinions are never abandoned willingly. However, despite all the smoke and dust many positive developments are also playing out. Why? Thanks to building voter pressure. Many of these developments are much underreported. Due to a media negativity bias famously described by another realist-optimist, Hans Rosling, when highlighting literally, live on television (see below), that if focusing only on the ugliness of a shoe sole our total judgment of the person wearing the shoe will be both unfavourable and unfair. In fact, for those willing to see democracy is already reasserting itself in real time. So unless messing up this process, by believing the de facto anti-democrats who claim that democracy has to be saved from itself, political stability is about to be restored.

True, many political parties have over recent years proven hugely disappointing when not resisting the antidemocratic slide into de facto neopaternalist terrain. However, they have done so simply because, when times are good, it is perfectly possible to exploit the powers of interpretation mentioned above to “dupe” voters into thinking that the government is on top of things – even when concentrating powers and disregarding the massive concerns of disillusioned voters. The term dupe is mentioned inside quotation marks simply because there is little reason to think such politicians have done little more than ride on a wave with little awareness of the highly detrimental big picture effects. Also, voter deception only works for a while. In the end the proof is always in the pudding and the electorate is now – for very good reason – less trusting. This means politicians need to shape up to stay in power. In fact, for the first time in years, there is a massive window of opportunity for politicians who finally start listening to what voters have in fact been saying all along. For example that they want politicians who offer pushback against all “isms” when taken too far. Meaning not only against Conservatism, (Classic) Liberalism and Socialism but also the dominant “ism” of today: Internationalism (Globalism). It speaks volumes that it seems to require a politician – or someone else within the Internationalist/Globalist web of vested interests – not to get this.