For me, one of the biggest issues with democracy today – and one of the biggest threats to our collective (and individual) futures is that of package politics (or party-pack politics as I shall call the system).
Party-pack politics forces you to pick your politicians off a set menu, with no additions or substitutions to your individual taste, when what we really need is an a la carte option.
Think about it – if you lean classically left but have a religious bent too, why should you have to take a side order of state-subsidised abortions along with the progressive taxation policies you are passionate about? And if you lean to the right, why should you have to accept tighter border controls to go along with the lower corporate tax rates you really want? (When that obviously does not make sense).
And, even worse, why do you have to put up with the immoral idiot “your” side nominated for the top job in order to get the tax policy you desire?
By artificially packaging set-menu political agendas, we discourage individuals to engage in individual thought and develop their own nuanced ideas about the world they want to live in (what’s the point in carefully considering tricky issues, if they come as a bundle deal anyway?). The real battle for the future is between the individual and the (all too often) lowest-common-denominator collective – be that a party collective, a national collective or an international collective.
What is more, party-pack politics encourage people to actively, noisily, support issues they actually do not believe in, in order to ensure their side (or the one or two issues they do care about) wins. And this leads to the name-calling and labelling that has become all to common.
[For example, take the recent drama in the UK: “you voted for Brexit, therefore you are a racist Nazi.” (even though you voted that way because you feel strongly that the EU has become too powerful and is damaging to third world counties excluded from the union), or “you voted for Labour, therefore you are anti-semite” (even though you voted that way because saving and strengthening NHS is your primary focus). None of this is helpful. It buries the issues we care most about under the issues we love to shout about the most and destroys any hope for finding middle ground and re-claiming the centre we so desperately need.]
If we want to live in a better future, it’s time we re consider the way we have “always” done things. Incredibly, technology now makes it possible for every citizen to vote on every issue they care about on an individual basis – if we decide to invest in the infrastructure required. We are no longer limited by the analog world, the the slow, old, paper polling system, or the “big man” package-deal politics that emerged from that system – unless we want to be.
If you are interested in exploring viable (already prototyped) alternatives to the current party-pack politics, take a look at:
- vTaiwan and the pol.is system the initiative uses
- Radical Markets, and the authors’ ideas on quadratic voting