Saturday, 21 November 2020

US Democracy - fundamental assumptions. Fundamentally flawed.


There are three ways of looking at this.

1) Democracy is fundamentally flawed. Within the heart of democracy lies the seeds of Populism, the Pandora's box of Demagoguery, Nativism, Tribalism, Chauvinism, and Xenophobia (which may be the flip side of American Exceptionalism).

2) Democracy is the contest of ideas. Until the ideas become ideology. The two party system that is the core of US Politics is a political pendulum. It swings. Conservative. Then Liberal. Then Conservative. Then Liberal. Or so it is supposed to go. Except that is not how it went. In the contest of ideas, Conservative values, by definition does not change. It thus loses pertinence, relevance, and currency over time. And the Liberals make fun of it. Because ultimately, conservatism becomes anachronistic fundamentalism with a sheen of respectability. At best. 

The Conservative paranoia and persecution complex has a basis in fact. The fact is the media in general is swayed by facts, observations, and arguments, and in time takes on a "Liberal" bias. Because that's where the facts lead them. And if you are Conservative, it feels like the media, ALL the mainstream media has a liberal bias. So that creates a vacuum for "Conservative Media". Enter Fox News. And Newsmax. And OAN. And Breitbart. And Rush Limbaugh. And Hannity. And Bill O'Reilly. (An aside: What if O'Reilly was still at Fox in 2020? Would Hannity be as prominent? How might O'Reilly have helped Trump) Which legitimizes the Conservative platform, and gives voice to conservative values in the mainstream, and the conspiracy theory and persecution complex. And then ideas become ideology and values. And when ideology and values are entrenched, then how can there be a contest of ideas? How can facts be evaluated objectively? Given Trump's 4 years in the White House (less all those time at the links), how could 72 million people still vote for him? 

Answer: They were not evaluating his 4 years factually, but thru the lens of "conservative values" or ascribed conservative values. The Pendulum is broken because voters vote on different bases. Half (or a little more than half) vote on the basis of objective measures like competence, accomplishments, and rationality, while the other half (or slightly less) vote on the basis of shared values, identity, sense of persecution, and shared conspiracy theories. IMHO, the democrats/liberals are still trying to play Democracy, but the Republicans have taken their ball and gone home. Or shot the ball.

3) Pure Democracy, like all ideas, taken to extreme is stupid. Pure Capitalism is stupid. Pure Socialism does not work. Democracy is the worst form of government. Except for all the other forms we have tried. 
The problem with democracy is that we are asking people to choose, but we leave it to the individual to decide what is the important criterion or basis for choosing. So someone might decide to choose based on whether the candidate has experience in government, whether he has a track record for making good decisions, whether he surrounds himself with experts and experienced people and he listens to them, and leavens their advice by listening to the voters, and whether he mediates between expertise, experience, and the lived experience of the people, and makes decision based on facts.
Another person may choose someone who goes to the same church as them, or espouses the same values, or share the same fears, or eat the same food, or promises the good ole days when men were men and women love them. 
Democracy lets the people choose. It doesn't teach them how to choose. 

And the electoral college was implemented precisely because the Founders understood that. And understood, that there may be a time when the people choose unwisely, and their choice may have to be over-ridden.

BUT in 2016, the electoral college did not have the discretion (or did not think that they had the discretion or the right) to over-ride the "will of the people".

At 2:55, Lemon asked Zakaria, what's the solution. Zakaria answered: "hope that the fever breaks."



Since when is "hope" a strategy?

But I don't blame Zakaria. He cannot see a solution because he is within the problem. He lives within the political "Truth" that is the US political system. So how can he see the solution? 

And in a sense the solution is there - the electoral college. But it did not work in 2016, and now, (in 2020) it will bow (correctly) to the will of the people.

And yes, there is no hope for the two sides to "get together". The gulf is ideological, value-based, and visceral. At least for one side.

No comments: