“Politics is about forming character, to cultivate virtues of
citizens. Only by living in a polis and participating in
political life, do we realize ourselves as human beings.”
(Aristotle, philosopher)

What would Aristotle think and say today?

Where is the honorable government?

Do all eligible citizens participate in the development and creation of laws?

How do we define participation?

Who decides upon eligibility?

Do our children, who are going to be stuck with our public debt, get to vote?

Of course they don’t, which may just be the reason, why politicians feel safe procrastinating. After all future generations can’t vote them out of office today.

But isn’t gambling with our children’s future immoral?

We live in a world in which an Eight-Grader builds a braille printer with Legos, launches a company, but isn’t allowed to vote. If “no taxation without representation” means anything at all, it means to find a juster way to actively include today’s minors in the political process.

Intergenerational equity really is a farce at times.

“”Well I called my congressman and he said quote: “I’d like
to help you son, but you’re to young to vote.””
(Eddie Cochran: “Summertime Blues”, released in 1958)

Furthermore, we often wonder why the laws created to protect us and the public good effectively from being deceived and exploited aren’t being enforced by our elected representatives.

Isn’t this one of the many reasons, why we are paying taxes?

Some would sarcastically argue that you can only legislate what you truly understand. Others, that our elected representatives are preoccupied with accumulating personal power.

“Opportunity makes a thief.”

“The Few assume to be deputies, but they are often
only the despoilers of the Many.”
(Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, philosopher)

“90% of the politicians give the other 10% a bad name.”
(Henry Kissinger, diplomat and political scientist)

In 1979, the economist Milton Friedman asked, whether it was really true that political self-interest was somehow nobler than economic self-interest. He also wondered, where we would find the angels, as he called them, who would organize society for us.

“What’s morally wrong cannot be politically right.”
(William Ewart Gladstone, statesman)

Some claim that our elected representatives and government cannot solve structural problems and offer future-oriented perspectives, because they think in legislative periods and that is far too short-sighted. They therefore propose longer legislative periods. I’m not convinced. Attitude matters, rather than the time period.

What about one-term elections, so politicians wouldn’t have to worry about re-elections and could focus on what needs to be done instead?

“A politician thinks of the next election,
a statesman thinks of the next generation.”
(William Ewart Gladstone, statesman)

“Politicians are always realistically maneuvering for
the next election. They are obsolete as
fundamental problem-solvers.”
(Richard Buckminster Fuller, philosopher)

It is true that democracy only works when everyone participates. But we don’t.

“L´état, c’est moi” claimed Louis XIV. Well, he’s long gone, but he had plenty of successors. In a democracy, “l’état, c’est nous”, but only when we fight and exert our rights.

What are our rights?

Shouldn’t we think about that, rather than leaving it to others?

Would forcing us to think be – well – undemocratic?

The unfortunate consequence being that in our so-called democratic system, ten people with one million dollars each have more influence than one million people with ten dollars each.

Money doesn’t rule the world, the few that have it do.

And when those few talk, our democracy often walks.

“When money meets political power, it is similar to a
match meeting an explosive – waiting to go off.”
(Jack Ma, entrepreneur)

Things become extremely scary, once one single variable, be it business, religion or anything else, starts dominating political life.

In a democracy, justice shouldn’t be something that citizens have to be able to afford. We shouldn’t need expensive lawyers, tax consultants etc. to force our government to give us what is rightfully ours.

Where is the honorable citizen?

Why don’t we hold our elected representatives accountable?

Aren’t they our employees?

Why don’t we insist that they enforce existing laws designed to protect us?

“The fools did not realize that their ruler could not have given them
what they were receiving without first having taken it from them.”
(Étienne de La Boétie, judge and writer)

“How can it happen that so many men sometimes suffer under a
single tyrant, who has no other power than the power they gave him?”
(Étienne de La Boétie, judge and writer)

“Whoever can supply the masses with illusions is easily their master.”
(Gustave Le Bon, social psychologist)

“To some degree it matters who’s in office, but it matters more how
much pressure they’re under from the public.”
(Noam Chomsky, philosopher and political commentator)

“The tyranny of a prince in an oligarchy is not so dangerous to
the public welfare as the apathy of a citizen in a democracy.”
(Charles de Montesquieu, political philosopher)

Organizational failure is a combination of bad leadership and bad followership. In other words, no honorable government without honorable citizens.

“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil
is that good men do nothing.”
(Edmund Burke, philosopher)

Could it be that we, the people, don’t want our politicians to solve structural problems, when the solution comes with a price-tag attached to it?

Would generation bargain hunter vote for a politician, if s/he asked us to live within our means and stop consuming so much?

Probably not.

Do we prefer fairy tale tellers?

If so, who is to blame?

And “cui bono”?

“A man will fight harder for his interests than for his rights.”
(Napoléon, military and political leader)

And what about voter turnout?

Looking at voter turnout in numerous democracies around the world leaves me wondering, whether voting should become compulsory, as oxymoronic as this may sound in a democracy.

The results of the last German national elections illustrate this.

The present grand coalition received an absolute majority of 67.2%, but only of those who actually voted. And the people didn’t vote for that coalition, as this is not possible. They voted for two political parties that decided to form a coalition, but only after the elections.

Voters equal the total population minus the foreigners minus the minors minus the non-voters. Looking at the actual numbers reveals that only 37% of the total population voted for the two political parties  that decided to form a coalition after the elections. 63%, which is almost two-thirds, didn’t. Either because they weren’t allowed to or because they didn’t want to.

What does this tell us about democratic legitimization?

“One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is
that you end up being governed by your inferiors.”
(Plato, philosopher)

Democracy does not mean having to put up with everything. We must resist and defend ourselves more often. After all, it is our system.

Only s/he who votes, can vote out. No vote, no choice, no freedom.

By the way, the rise of left- and right-wing parties in Europe and elsewhere is mostly due to the public’s growing frustration with the political mainstream, which lack vision, courage and whose main purpose is to stay in power.

We don’t trust our representatives anymore.

We don’t trust the political system anymore.

Can be trust ourselves?

To do what?

Comments are closed.