We keep changing politicians, why not change what matters?
“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results” — quote often attributed to Albert Einstein.
The above quote is such a cliché now and yet is it really heeded? We’ve had hundreds of years of democracy, hundreds of years of flawed leaders, hundreds of years of mistakes. Democracy has been the best form of government that we have known, but it is also seriously flawed. We regularly change our politicians. We do we settle and assume that the democratic process itself cannot change? We cannot seriously expect different results while doing the same thing.
Our current democracy produces horribly flawed politicians who are more concerned with themselves and their ambition than with good government. Our democracy is riddled with politics and manipulation which gets in the way of sensible policy and reasonable consensus. Our democracy includes significant corruption and conflicts of interest. Before politicians will act, millions of busy voters must be persuaded of new policies, which can lead to decades of delays on critical issues. Political delays have in fact led to much avoidable deaths and much suffering. Our democracy’s basic dependence on journalism to inform the public creates an almost impossible task. Our democracy still does not have a true separation of powers, which weakens it against collapse.
Our democracy requires millions of largely disinterested and uninformed voters to vote for often ignorant, corrupt and conflicted strangers. Those flawed politicians then run the nation. Politicians best able to cynically manipulate a popularity contest, win. Why would we settle for such an imperfect solution?
Of course, there can be a better way. Of course, if we set our minds to it we can improve the process. Of course, we should be able to make informed and well considered collective decisions without politics getting in the way. We have sent men to the moon. We have cured many diseases. We have developed astonishing technology. We have seen across vast space and time back almost to the big bang itself. We can solve this problem, in the right way and find the right solution.
Our society has changed immeasurably in the last few decades. Yet we settle for a flawed system of government that was designed hundreds of years ago, by men who had never seen a smart phone, a television, a car or even a radio. We still have democracy 1.0. Our democratic process has not substantially changed since a democracy, that was an “admirable system….nearly perfected”, collapsed into brutality under Hitler. We have the same flawed and unprotected process now. Why not fix what matters?
Tennessee Williams said, “to live is to change, and not to change is to die”. Democracy cannot stagnate. Let’s stop stumbling blindly from one flawed politician to the next. Rather let us fix democracy. Let us deliver the same functions of democracy, but with an improved process.
We can deliver a democracy which is truly of the people, by the people and for the people. We can remove any potential for politics, corruption, self-interested politicians and the adverse influence of money. We can maintain power within an effective process rather than in the hands of politicians. We can find tried and tested solutions which can produce better leadership and better collective decisions, for a fairer society.
There is a better way.
Tony Bracks is the author of Solving for Democracy, available on Amazon.