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Thread: The individual vs. the political process and status quo

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    Default The individual vs. the political process and status quo

    Ive 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 Ive 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 nave?

    Have we created a disastrous political system?

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    Politics.ie Member EoinMag's Avatar
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    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.
    atheism is a belief system in the same way that not playing football is a sport.

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    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.
    Factual: "A coalition cannot reflect a single party's principles however and has to recognise other participants."

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    Politics.ie Member statsman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by iolar View Post
    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 nave?

    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.
    Put a thief among honest men and they will eventually relieve him of his watch. Flann O'Brien

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    Quote Originally Posted by iolar View Post
    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.
    A demagogue is someone who will preach doctrines he knows to be untrue to men he knows to be idiots.

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    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.
    A demagogue is someone who will preach doctrines he knows to be untrue to men he knows to be idiots.

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    Quote Originally Posted by wickalah View Post
    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?

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    Quote Originally Posted by statsman View Post
    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?

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    Politics.ie Member Mountaintop's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by iolar View Post
    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?
    Margaret Thatcher might disagree...
    Let me google that for you

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    Politics.ie Member statsman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by iolar View Post
    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?
    Put a thief among honest men and they will eventually relieve him of his watch. Flann O'Brien

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