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The individual vs. the political process and status quo


iolar

Member
Joined
Feb 15, 2009
Messages
95
I’ve always had an ambition to become an elected representative in this country; to espouse what I believe to be the right path for this country to follow.

However, over the last number of years I’ve found it increasingly difficult to reconcile what I believe in, to what I perceive to be the wishes/beliefs of a significant proportion of the Irish people. This disconnect arises, I believe, due to a number of factors:

• A deep cynicism towards the political system
• An increased individualistic society
• A changed Irish identity
• Unchallenged populism (across all political parties and none) and political manipulation
• An anti-intellectual society and consequently political system

I, as a prospective electoral candidate, cannot compete against these factors as I will not employ or exploit any of the factors above to secure electoral gain. I expect the same could also be true for other individuals.

Am I being naïve?

Have we created a disastrous political system?
 


EoinMag

Well-known member
Joined
Aug 4, 2010
Messages
4,950
Yes, I believe the system as it stands is disastrous.

Democracy only in name, not in practise.

We are being ruled by big business, elections just put a veneer of respectability on their activity.

The increased reliance on social welfare is a big reason also for the populism.
 

wickalah

Well-known member
Joined
Jun 11, 2010
Messages
451
Unfortunately, this has always been the problem with representative democracy.
Balancing electoral success with the what you feel are the right, or at the very least the most sensible, policies to implement is a very thin line.

The floating voter will not vote for someone who doesn't promise them what they want, even if it is not in the interest of the country as a whole. Fianna Fail are obviously past (and current) masters of this (bringing us to the situation in which we now find ourselves), the Labour Party went with it in the last election (leading many to call them dishonest when they couldn't follow through) and SF have slipped into the same modus operandi when they got a sniff of electoral success.

Its a problem of representative democracy that is not easily fixed without a sea-change in the attitudes of the electorate.
 

statsman

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 25, 2011
Messages
56,218
I’ve always had an ambition to become an elected representative in this country; to espouse what I believe to be the right path for this country to follow.

However, over the last number of years I’ve found it increasingly difficult to reconcile what I believe in, to what I perceive to be the wishes/beliefs of a significant proportion of the Irish people. This disconnect arises, I believe, due to a number of factors:

• A deep cynicism towards the political system
• An increased individualistic society
• A changed Irish identity
• Unchallenged populism (across all political parties and none) and political manipulation
• An anti-intellectual society and consequently political system

I, as a prospective electoral candidate, cannot compete against these factors as I will not employ or exploit any of the factors above to secure electoral gain. I expect the same could also be true for other individuals.

Am I being naïve?

Have we created a disastrous political system?
If you believe that the country should follow a given path, as a politician you have two options.

1: Convince a significant percentage of the population that you are right.

2: Become a dictator.

If you fail with 1, it is, of course, tempting to blame the stupidity of the electorate or the failings of the political system, but the fact is that you just failed as a politician. That's how democracy works. Democracy is not rule by the minority who know better, it's messy, pragmatic and full of compromise. Democracy is a disaster, until you compare it to the available alternatives.

Dictatorship is the only way to ensure that you get to impose your 'better way' on the populace if they won't vote for you. And we all know how that kind of thing works out.
 

goosebump

Well-known member
Joined
May 23, 2008
Messages
4,953
Have we created a disastrous political system?
No, that's just how democracy works.

Politicians are supposed to be representative of the people. If you set yourself at odds with the people, you won't be elected. That's why you have to go around promising all sorts of nonsense to get anywhere.

And then if you do promise all sorts of nonsense, and you get elected, the next time out you get dumped, because you didn't deliver, and somebody else is no promising all sorts of nonsense.

Democracy is the worst system of Government imaginable. Its just the only one what can accommodate political freedom.

Your only alternative is to build up a media empire and influence the direction of Government by featuring lots of pictures of erect nipples.
 

goosebump

Well-known member
Joined
May 23, 2008
Messages
4,953
More seriously, I believe there is some sort of middle ground between what we have how (a system built on populism and pester power) and outright dictatorship.

The EU exists somewhere between outright democracy and outright dictatorship, and manages to retain its authority.

The key to this is the Commission, which is Treaty bound to develop the goals of the EU, but which does not have legislative power which means it does not require a legislative mandate. As such, it can function independently, within narrow terms of reference, without having its members appearing on the backs of trucks calling for some crappy hospital to be kept open.

If you could find some way to devolve that structure into a model that works in a nation state, you'd be on to something.
 

iolar

Member
Joined
Feb 15, 2009
Messages
95
The floating voter will not vote for someone who doesn't promise them what they want, even if it is not in the interest of the country as a whole.

Its a problem of representative democracy that is not easily fixed without a sea-change in the attitudes of the electorate.
Exactly, but why is this the case. Surely what is good for society is good for the individual? It seems paradoxical that the individual should think there is more to gain from individualism than what is good for society?
 

iolar

Member
Joined
Feb 15, 2009
Messages
95
If you believe that the country should follow a given path, as a politician you have two options.

1: Convince a significant percentage of the population that you are right.

2: Become a dictator.

If you fail with 1, it is, of course, tempting to blame the stupidity of the electorate or the failings of the political system, but the fact is that you just failed as a politician. That's how democracy works. Democracy is not rule by the minority who know better, it's messy, pragmatic and full of compromise. Democracy is a disaster, until you compare it to the available alternatives.

Dictatorship is the only way to ensure that you get to impose your 'better way' on the populace if they won't vote for you. And we all know how that kind of thing works out.
Yes, but surely the political system can be refined somewhat to mitigate against some of the factors that I outlined?
 

statsman

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 25, 2011
Messages
56,218
Yes, but surely the political system can be refined somewhat to mitigate against some of the factors that I outlined?
Well, who gets to define what's a disaster and what's the will of the people?
 

iolar

Member
Joined
Feb 15, 2009
Messages
95
No, that's just how democracy works.

Politicians are supposed to be representative of the people. If you set yourself at odds with the people, you won't be elected. That's why you have to go around promising all sorts of nonsense to get anywhere.
I believe that politicians should be representative of the people who share their views? I don't believe in "promising all sorts of nonsense" just to get elected. It seems to me that to be a politician who can bend their beliefs to suit is not worthy of office.
 

ManOfReason

Well-known member
Joined
May 24, 2007
Messages
4,328
A deep cynicism towards the political system - a healthy response to nearly 100 years of cronyism
An increased individualistic society - what is wrong with that?
A changed Irish identity - yes, we are on longer closeted breeding ground for crooks and pedophiles
Unchallenged populism (across all political parties and none) and political manipulation - I don't think recent government cuts could be considered to be populism.
An anti-intellectual society and consequently political system - intellectualism in politics is anti-democratic and dangerous.
 

lies

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 17, 2009
Messages
2,918
Twitter
yes
I’ve always had an ambition to become an elected representative in this country; to espouse what I believe to be the right path for this country to follow.

However, over the last number of years I’ve found it increasingly difficult to reconcile what I believe in, to what I perceive to be the wishes/beliefs of a significant proportion of the Irish people. This disconnect arises, I believe, due to a number of factors:

• A deep cynicism towards the political system
• An increased individualistic society
• A changed Irish identity
• Unchallenged populism (across all political parties and none) and political manipulation
• An anti-intellectual society and consequently political system

I, as a prospective electoral candidate, cannot compete against these factors as I will not employ or exploit any of the factors above to secure electoral gain. I expect the same could also be true for other individuals.

Am I being naïve?

Have we created a disastrous political system?
You basically have three honest options, as a politician:

1. Represent the will of the people as best you can
2. convince voters you know what's best for them and, if they elect you, represent yourself
3. A transparent mixture of 1. and 2.

Or you could just do what everyone else does:

Pretend to be a populist, when if fact you do what you want and then justify it later.
 

lies

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 17, 2009
Messages
2,918
Twitter
yes
A deep cynicism towards the political system - a healthy response to nearly 100 years of cronyism
An increased individualistic society - what is wrong with that?
A changed Irish identity - yes, we are on longer closeted breeding ground for crooks and pedophiles
Unchallenged populism (across all political parties and none) and political manipulation - I don't think recent government cuts could be considered to be populism.
An anti-intellectual society and consequently political system - intellectualism in politics is anti-democratic and dangerous.
LOL at the claim that " intellectualism in politics is anti-democratic and dangerous".

Intellectualism denotes the use, development, and exercise of the intellect; the practice of being an intellectual; and the Life of the Mind. In the field of philosophy, “intellectualism” occasionally is synonymous with “rationalism”, that is, knowledge mostly derived from reason and ratiocination.
An intellectual is a person who primarily uses intelligence in either a professional or an individual capacity.
Intellectualism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Intellectual - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A much GREATER threat is anti-intellectualism in politics.
 

ManOfReason

Well-known member
Joined
May 24, 2007
Messages
4,328
LOL at the claim that " intellectualism in politics is anti-democratic and dangerous".





Intellectualism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Intellectual - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A much GREATER threat is anti-intellectualism in politics.
Karl Marx and Lenin were great intellectuals, Mao too - and their ideas killed millions. Ronald Regarn was certainly not an intellectual but made a good president. Bill Clintion was smart, but if he was an intellectual he hid it well and he was a pretty good president. Don't think any Irish Taoiseach could have been said to be an intellectual, although Dev liked to pretend he was, but they were all in the range of useless to down-right crooks. So there is no telling really, however intellectuals in politics have a tendency to determine what is right for other people regardless of the people's views on the matter and that is the anti-democratic element.
 

nicht besonders

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 10, 2008
Messages
1,471
I suppose the point in a democracy is that you should try to convince others of your point of view on issues. Of course there are numerous factors that mitigate against an individual or even a group of people convincing others of the soundness of their ideas, such as press control, institutional biases, etc, but there is still an opportunity there.

In an Irish context it is worth pointing out that at least you do not need to get 50%+ to take a seat in parliament, far from it. In five seaters you only need to convince something like 16/17% of people who turn out to vote to do so for you and your in the dail. In part I think this explains why the quality of some of our TDs is so low, but it also does mean that, in theory, other ideas and voices have a greater chance to be heard than in other Western democracies (edit: the shrinking of the Dail and possible closure of the Seanad, however popular/populist they are as measures, do mean a consequent shrinking of possible political representation).

If that Fintan O'Toole grouping had run, for instance, in 2011, they would've had a great chance at gaining quite a few seats (look at the independents that did get in), and a new party could still capitalise on the general disillusionment and cynicism about the main political parties whenever the next GE rolls around.
 
Last edited:

goosebump

Well-known member
Joined
May 23, 2008
Messages
4,953
I believe that politicians should be representative of the people who share their views? I don't believe in "promising all sorts of nonsense" just to get elected. It seems to me that to be a politician who can bend their beliefs to suit is not worthy of office.
Yes, I agree with you, which is why neither of us will ever hold public office.

Most people enter politics with high ideals, and end up as bitter and cynical failures.

Its the people who enter politics with no ideals at all who fair best.
 

wickalah

Well-known member
Joined
Jun 11, 2010
Messages
451
Yes, I agree with you, which is why neither of us will ever hold public office.

Most people enter politics with high ideals, and end up as bitter and cynical failures.

Its the people who enter politics with no ideals at all who fair best.
I love this!

An incredibly cynical post, complaining about the cynicism of politicians but yet the poster believes that his/her lack of cynicism is why he/she would never be elected.

You have a bright political future ahead.
 

realistic1

Well-known member
Joined
Jun 27, 2008
Messages
11,402
I’ve always had an ambition to become an elected representative in this country; to espouse what I believe to be the right path for this country to follow.

However, over the last number of years I’ve found it increasingly difficult to reconcile what I believe in, to what I perceive to be the wishes/beliefs of a significant proportion of the Irish people. This disconnect arises, I believe, due to a number of factors:

• A deep cynicism towards the political system
• An increased individualistic society
• A changed Irish identity
• Unchallenged populism (across all political parties and none) and political manipulation
• An anti-intellectual society and consequently political system

I, as a prospective electoral candidate, cannot compete against these factors as I will not employ or exploit any of the factors above to secure electoral gain. I expect the same could also be true for other individuals.

Am I being naïve?

Have we created a disastrous political system?
The above is a definition of Western Democracy.
 

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