Posts Tagged ‘criticisms

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My Views on Democracy: Criticisms and legislative proposals

Good day,

 

I am a young Canadian citizen who wants to share his concerns on some aspects of our political process.

I will tell you quickly about myself while explaining my motivations behind my decision to write this text. I was born in Mexico City, and my family arrived in Montreal when I was two months old and I have been living here ever since. Looking back at my growing up, I feel extremely privileged to have lived in this society. First, it welcomed both my parents in the country and it rewarded their hard work. Thanks to that, my brother and I always had food on the table when we were hungry. We were able to attend a very good school and had an excellent education. When I wanted to play with my friends, there was always a park nearby where we could go. We could even join a team and participate in tournaments. When I was sick, there was always a clinic or a hospital where I could get cured. When I needed glasses, I could buy some. Almost everything that I needed, the society made it so that I could get it.

 

…meanwhile, in the rest of the world

 

Every day, there are 11’000 babies who die in their first month of life.

Every day, there are 34’000 children who die of malnutrition or related causes.

Every day, 2’000 children younger than 15 years of age are infected with HIV/AIDS.

Now, more than 128 million children don’t attend school.

Why? Above all: why not here, in Canada?

I can only feel very grateful, humble and thankful for growing up in a society that assured me a safe childhood. I could’ve grown up in another country where I would have died within a month of being born.

There is a reason, there is a cause that made our society the way it is right now. Some might say the cause is God, and it wouldn’t be entirely false, but it would be a very limited answer because it would ignore our free will, and it would not resolve the incongruous discrimination towards so many nations and peoples on Earth. The real cause, in my view, is the politicians. They are the ones who have striven to make societies better and improve the standard of living of every citizen. Yet, they are also the ones who have agreed to wage wars, and accept discrimination. What role do we want to play in history as citizens and as politicians?

Some might say: “politicians are all corrupted”. What they really mean is: “we feel abandoned. We want a better society, but we feel powerless, and we’ve lost our hope, and because it hurts us so much to admit it, we have to blame it on someone else.”

Without politicians, we would have never come out of the Stone Age and we would have never been able to sustain more than a few million people on Earth. Yet, we are now more than 6 billion human beings! What does that tell us about our ability to collaborate and establish political structures in societies?

It is out of a sentiment of love, duty and responsibility towards myself, towards the society in which I live (and particularly towards the oppressed regions of the world), and towards all the people in history that fought for a better world, that I am writing this text.

Politicians personify the most realistic hope for change that we citizens have. Political progress and development cannot occur without politicians. They are, with the support of the population, those who can bring forth a meaningful and lasting change in our society and improve the well-being of everyone towards always a higher level of existence. It can be done, and it will be done, the question is: when? Why should we wait? If everyone really wants this type of change, why hasn’t it occurred yet? There must be forces preventing this from happening. This is the core of my presentation: what is preventing us from improving our society more quickly? How can we solve that problem?

 

I will start by showing how the very existence of political parties in a society is counter-productive and even destructive. I will suggest a means of eliminating them from our society. Then, I will present the instauration of a new and healthier legislature for electoral campaigns. Finally, I will advocate for the establishment of a licence to vote and a licence to present oneself as an electoral candidate.

How do we resolve contradictions and differences amongst ourselves?

 

A political party can be defined as a group of individuals sharing a common ideology and promoting the rule of that ideology over a society. Thus different parties mean different ideologies. What is an ideology? It is an interpretation of the nature of the universe, the world and of humanity. Certain groups of individuals share these common interpretations and decide to create a party so that they might collaborate to promote such an ideology. People can have different interpretations and arrive at totally different conclusions concerning human nature, Earth and the Universe. Our society tells us the following: “go to the people who share the same ideology as yours (form political parties), and disregard all the rest (fight against the other parties).” Is that the best way to resolve our political differences?

Let’s imagine I talk to a friend about a certain topic that we both strongly identify with and I realise that we have two totally opposite views on this subject. What should I do? How should I react? What would be the best way of dealing with that contradiction?

I could tell him: “Listen, I don’t think we should ever mention this issue anymore, ever.” Wouldn’t that be ducking away from the problem? Or, I could say to him: “Listen, I don’t want to know what you think, but you are wrong and I am right. So listen to me, I will explain to you why I am right.” That would be quite disrespectful and arrogant. Why should he listen to my ideas if I won’t listen to his? Or I could tell that person: “I’m sorry but because we have two contradictory interpretations of the same issue, I will not talk to you anymore and you will become my enemy.” Now all these answers are common things we hear in our daily lives: the only thing it does is cut the communication between people. Instead of building a healthy bridge for communicating ideas, we either ignore or neglect or despise the ideas of the other person. Why do we do such things?

I think the most accurate answer to that question is that we are insecure with our own thoughts. We lack the confidence in our mind and the clarity of our personal ideas so much so that we don’t want anyone challenging them. One reaction which doesn’t seem directly harmful but yet can be very intellectually destructive in the long run is simply running away from differences: every time you come across someone with different opinions, you simply run away, you never put yourself in question, and that can be pretty harmful mentally. The second reaction is despising totally the other without necessarily being violent but being simply extremely haughty: you still don’t want to be challenged, but you have a certain love for the other person, and a certain level of belief in your ideas, enough so that you are willing to share them with others, but you are too confident in yourself that you don’t want to understand the other’s opinion. Finally, the worse attitude would be to totally reject any form of communication between that person and you out of a profound sentiment of hate towards him, so much so that you would be willing to wage war on him (literally or superficially). None of these attitudes would resolve the problem at all evidently. What should we do then in front of contradictions and differences?

I think what most sensible adults do is to engage in an even more profound and strong communication line between the other, because both recognize the value and the power of that idea in both their sense of identity. Thus, when facing opposition, the good reaction for both sides is not to lessen the communication, not even keep it constant but rather, push it more deeply. It is in doing so that we resolve problems and differences among ourselves, whether it be in the household, at work, among friends or anywhere else. That is the guideline to solve problems of diverging opinions: increase the quality of the communication. If we don’t do that, we simply let these problems sediment in our minds, allowing them to affect our unconscious for a very long time. This is why we have so many wars, conflicts and violence right now. Martin Luther King said after the assassination of Malcolm X: “The assassination of Malcolm X was an unfortunate tragedy. And it reveals that there are still numerous people in our nation who have degenerated to the point of expressing dissent through murder. And we haven’t learned to disagree without being violently disagreeable.” So how does society resolve political differences?

 

 

The election game or how to avoid communication

 

The society suggests, as a means to work out ideological contradictions, the game of elections. The society, unable (or unwilling) to promote communication between these ideologies, and rejecting the idea of truth as a whole, promotes a violent battle between these parties in the form of elections. And whoever wins these elections will rule over that society for four years, until the next election.

What message is the society sending to its population? Something like that: “well, as a society, we’re not so sure about the existence of truth at all, so we offer you the following: those who want to take part in the political life of the society please form groups according to your respective ideologies. Each group will be identified as a political party. Now, in order to determine which party will rule over our society, you will participate in elections. You will go towards the other citizens and you will try to convince them to vote for your party. You will be allowed to receive private funding for your campaigns. You will be authorized to buy advertisement time on television, you will be able to organise conferences and put posters in the streets, if you have the money to pay for it. The one party who will have convinced the largest number of citizens (or districts) shall rule over the society. (The leader of the winning political party will become prime minister.)” What does that tell us about the level of maturity of our society? Doesn’t that look more like a summer camp game for 12 year-old kids rather than an official, legal process to determine our political leaders? Isn’t there a better way to elect our political leaders?

This way of choosing our ruling ideology is futile in that it does not resolve contradictions: it rather ignores them for a determinate period of time (four years), and deals with them in the same manner after that period, without ever coming to a truthful understanding of the problems. This way of organizing society is completely destroying our ability to communicate, collaborate and join forces to promote our general welfare. This approach to the problem is the same as the third option that I mentioned earlier: “I’m sorry but because we have two contradictory interpretations of the same issue, I will not talk to you anymore and you will become my enemy. And we will fight it out through elections.” Moreover: “we don’t want to know who’s right!! I don’t want to talk to you and find out where the truth lies! I don’t want to discuss these ideas seriously and collaborate with everyone to push the right and truthful policies! I don’t want to talk to you. I want to fight you. I want to bury you with your ideas.” What’s the difference with war? Weapons. Elections make it legal and totally normal to accuse, disparage, humiliate and hate anyone with a different ideology than ours in order to determine truth or legitimacy! And who is playing that game right now? The very people in charge of our society!

And this childish war of egos striving for power through menace is not only limited to elections: it is taking place during parliamentary sessions too. One simply has to watch this circus on television: in the center of the room, the leader of the government and the leader of the opposition accuse, disparage and humiliate each other in turns, while their respective followers giggle, jump up and down and scream like pre-pubescent baboons trying to impress one another. Once in a while, when the noise becomes unbearable, the president of the chamber asks politely for calm and silence. But it hardly happens immediately: the president, just like a kindergarten monitor, asks again and again for the MP’s to calm down. Why is this so hard to have some dignity for oneself and for others? It brings them too much pleasure to destroy the reputation of their so called “enemy”. They have such a low self-esteem that their only way of feeling alive is through defamation, so much so that they can’t control their tongues anymore. Their words become like viruses looking for an ear to contaminate.

Meanwhile, in Afghanistan, Canadian soldiers are dying. At the same time, here in Canada, some unprivileged parents work tirelessly to feed, clothe and educate their children. Doctors are overwhelmed with patients, who have to wait for hours before being treated. Meanwhile school classes are getting bigger and bigger, the work-load of teachers is getting out of hand and the quality of education is declining. And what are the people elected to deal with those problems doing in parliament? They are humiliating each other out of pure egotistical cruelty and the hope of winning the next elections! Is this the kind of political organisation we want? And how hypocritical are we, when taking a stand in international conflicts, when we cannot even resolve our own problems?

What is causing this degrading situation? In great part, political parties are responsible for that. Why? It is they who are creating this vicious and inhuman competition-oriented environment always gearing towards elections instead of progress. We do not need political parties to have a healthy society. We do not need psychological wars and degradation. We do not need a party line! What we really need is a human conduct line. We need to forge a decent and strong Canadian identity, inside the universal human identity that we all share on this Earth.

 

 

Political parties function like organised crime

 

Parties have an internal functioning and rules similar to the ones of organised crime or cult-like organisations: “I’m the boss here; it’s my family and I who run the show. If you want to join, you have to prove that you are willing to do anything we ask of you to succeed. If we like you, we’ll finance your campaign. Remember one thing though: you don’t work for the general welfare of the citizens who elect you, you work for us, and you work for the well-being of the party! If you want to take initiative on your own without asking for our permission, we will punish you. We will ban you from our caucus; we will destroy your political career. That goes also for the sessions in the Parliament: you vote the way I want you to vote, I don’t care about what you think. If you want to stay in, you better do as I tell you. And one last thing: wherever you are, there is always someone above you, stronger and mightier whom you should fear, submit and obey to: for now, that person is me.” That’s the same way parties work: there is no room for individuality. Everything is made to repress that sentiment of self-worth, sovereignty and internal judgement of an individual so as to be able to manipulate him. Of course this depiction is not true everywhere, but it represents the worst aspect of political parties. I ask the following question: what do we need them for?

 

 

How should we eliminate the parties from our society?

 

The rest of the text will deal with the changes that a suppression of political parties will create in our society. These changes are what instinctively come to my mind and I do not have the pretension of anticipating every detail of such a radical modification. I wish that you will read the following paragraphs with an open-mind, bringing your own expertise and judgement on the content of my ideas, or lack of content, whatever the case may be. I will only give the grand scheme of the project and I hope that it will give you the incentive of collaborating with other politicians and legislators to realise such a project.

I will describe this project as a dream. I will do as best as I can to reconstruct it in my mind and share it with you, giving precedence to the essential elements forming the bigger picture of this project.

The removal of parties from our society will necessitate the transformation of two main parts of our organisation: the electoral system and the parliamentary sessions.

 

 

For a new functioning of electoral campaigns

 

Any citizen wanting to become candidate for a provincial or a federal election will run under the banner of his district, and not under the banner of his party. Every candidate will be, in a sense, an independent candidate, vowing strict allegiance to the people of his district, to the promotion of their well-being, and of the well-being of the nation and of the world at large. Any other form of allegiance which might hinder on the common good of the population will be illegal.

Each candidate will have to run a campaign to expose the citizens to his personality, his ideology, his dreams and his projects. A new law should be implemented to give equal media access to every candidate and define clearly the freedom of action that they would be allowed during the electoral campaign. A new television and radio station should be created, to which every citizen might have access to, free of charge, which would diffuse political news of the district. A newspaper should also be printed during the electoral campaign, covering every candidate in equal proportion. The candidates might be allowed a certain number of words in this newspaper to present their ideas to the citizens.

During the electoral period, no form of “critical” press coverage will be allowed, preventing any form of favouritism from the media. Apart from that, the press should function normally. The role of the press is to inform the population. How is that done effectively? The press can’t give its interpretation of an issue without giving the transcript of the original source. How can I judge someone by what other people are saying about him? It will be dishonest of me. If I want to judge someone, I have to meet him, I have to talk to him, I have to listen to him, and I have to read what that person writes: I cannot rely on the opinion of someone else. It is the same for candidates: a citizen cannot judge a candidate by what others are saying about him, whether it is the press or his family or his neighbours. The citizens must rely on their own judgement, and to assure that, the citizens must have access to the original ideas of the candidates. Any form of press choosing to cover any electoral campaign would have to conform to these rules.

The candidate will also be given access to conference rooms in every district so that he can give oral presentations of his platform, and the citizens can meet him in person, to listen to him and ask him questions.

Finally, a debate should be organised between the candidates, as is happening already right now with the difference being that it should be done in every district, so that the citizens might better measure their respective strength and qualities

The funding of every campaign should come from the different levels of government and a special budget for that purpose should be arranged

Every electoral platform would have to follow a rigid structure. First, the candidate will produce a clear and concise autobiography so that citizens might get a better idea of his personality. Also, he will give a brief description of the major members of his team. Secondly, he will write the details of his motivation for running in these elections, as well as divulging the main streams of his ideology and producing a critical current analysis of the functioning of the different levels of government. Thirdly, he will present practical political projects for his municipality, his province, his nation and for the world, depending on the level of government his elections are geared towards. Every electoral platform would have to conform to these rules, and should be easily accessible to any citizen of the country. A copy would have to be distributed to every citizen eligible to vote, in their respective districts. A clear law will have to be passed to forbid candidates to talk about other candidates in their writings and speeches, so as to prevent any form of defamation. How can a citizen vote for someone whose sense of identity lies in the deterioration of the identity of others?

After that stage is completed, the electoral process would occur as it occurs today: the candidate with the most votes wins the elections. At the municipal level, I don’t think any major changes would have to be installed. However, at the provincial and federal levels, we would have to determine a way of nominating the prime ministers.

 

 

A second level of elections

 

To nominate every prime minister, I suggest a second level of elections, amongst the newly elected members of parliament. A short rest period of two to three days would have to be given to the candidates so that they might regain their energy and come together in the same place so as to elect their new government. This event could take place in a hotel for example.

The list of the newly elected officials wanting to be candidates for the rank of prime minister would be officially revealed to every other MP. Again, a copy of their platform, this time exclusively national and international would be distributed to everyone and a decent amount of time would be given so that they might read them carefully. Then, any MP wanting to take part in that government would let the candidate know his willingness to join his team through a letter, and the candidate would later decide if he wants this MP to join his new team of ministers. Time periods would be reserved so that the candidates might get the time to meet the different people who want to take part in his future government. The press would not be granted access to these events so as to prevent any external, popular influence on the politicians.

When the candidates would have formed their new team that they will present to form the new government, a new micro-electoral campaign will occur. The campaign will take place in a conference room, giving equal time and access to every candidate. One after the other, they will present their platform and present to everyone the different ministers they choose. Every minister will then have to give a brief and concise presentation on the role he will play in that government. The media will have full access to these events, reporting them as freely as they want, while respecting the normal standards of morality and decency. It is very important to look after the well-being of every one of the officials by giving them access to water and beverages (prohibiting the consumption of alcohol), comfortable seats and allowing them decent rest periods. They might be sitting down listening to presentations for hours in a row, and it is important that their mind and body are in the best condition when they decide on the new national government that will rule over Canada.

At the end of this campaign, the second level of elections will occur, following the norms that we have now: the MP’s will vote for the Prime Minister and his government will be nominated. As soon as it will be done, all of the elected officials and the government will occupy their respective positions and begin their mandate.

 

 

For a licence of electoral candidates

 

One problem might arise in this new procedure: what happens if a large number of citizens want to become candidates? By allowing them the same time and access to media, the elections might take months to finish. What could be done to prevent such things and allow only the best candidates to run for office? I will suggest in the following paragraphs, a practical way to remedy that problem which will bare direct relevance with the last part of my paper.

How should we “filter”, in a sense, the candidates that will be given permit to run in the elections from the ones who will be refused? Before anything, I think it is important to determine a maximum of candidates allowed for elections in every level of government. I suggest the number five. In this way, the amount of resources, time and money will be approximately fixed and knowable in advance for any type of election. Now, how can we choose the best candidates to form our government? In order to answer that question, we must first investigate the following question: what determines the quality of a politician?

I suggest the following steps to select our elected officials. One primordial quality that we should require is that of physical health. We should require any candidate to have a decent health status, in or above average, so that that particular candidate, should he be elected, would not die suddenly during his term. How should we measure that quality? I think the best people to determine such parameters are health specialists such as doctors, physiotherapists, etc. Secondly, it is even more important that every candidate should be in the best mental health possible, well above average in that case. We have to prevent insane people and criminals from getting in office. Again, how should we measure that? Psychologists and psychiatrists are the best to determine the mental status of an individual. I suggest the following path of investigation, to which these professionals should take particular attention: what common traits of personality did dangerous leaders such as Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini or Pinochet have, that other great leaders such as Lincoln, Martin Luther King or Gandhi did not have? We want to prevent any personalities such as those of Hitler, etc. to take part in government, so we have to study their profile carefully to stop them before it is too late.

Once the health status of the candidate is determined, I think it is important to next examine his intellectual capabilities. We do not want only a healthy individual who is incapable of thinking. We must have strict and specific intellectual requirements towards every candidate. We need a candidate with a thorough knowledge of our constitution, and of our legislative, judiciary and executive branches of our government. I leave this kind of questionnaire to the lawyers and the legislators to determine the basic knowledge we will demand of our elected officials.

Furthermore, I think it is of utmost importance that the candidates have a thorough knowledge of history. We need an individual with a deep knowledge of our society’s history so that he may understand the present situation of our country as a product of past events and people and thus be able to situate himself in the stream of time and have the wisdom to build a new and continuous future. Also, if the candidate is running in a federal election, and even in a provincial election, I think it is important that he knows about mankind’s history on Earth for the same reasons mentioned above. Historians should find the essential events throughout history for that purpose.

Finally, I think a last questionnaire should be made to test the candidate’s general level of understanding on the subjects over which he will have an executive power. For example, I think that the Prime Minister of Canada must have a certain, decent knowledge on economy, education, transport, national defence, health, finance, agriculture, etc. We need an individual with a sufficiently broad understanding of theses subjects that will allow him to take sovereign leading decisions and collaborate with specialists without feeling totally ignorant. Again, I leave it up to specialists in each domain to determine the necessary criteria to accomplish such an endeavour.

 

 

For a license to vote

 

In these previous few paragraphs, I have described, generally what our demands towards politicians should be like. In order to assure that we have the best elements of our society when election-time comes, I think it is fair to have some sort of tests on the candidate’s physical and mental health as well as his intellectual capabilities. In this way, we open the doors of our government to the best of us. Nevertheless, with a high standard towards others, comes a high standard towards us as well. We should expect only the “best” citizens to become politicians, something which is entirely legitimate, and consequently it seems fair that we have the same quality of standard towards the citizens who will elect such a candidate. We should also have a license that will give permission to citizens who have passed a series of tests to vote.

To best illustrate what I want to say, I will share with you a relevant experience of mine. I had just turned 18 years old, and the provincial elections were under way. I was very excited because I was officially an adult and I was eligible to vote! I had this unique feeling of self-importance because I felt part of a greater whole that I could influence, because people wanted me to have my say in the political process: I was convinced I could make a difference. So the following question came to my mind: “who will I vote for?” It was the first time I had asked myself that question, and I didn’t really know how to answer it. But I knew one thing: I didn’t want to base my vote on my parents or on any other person. I wanted to make that decision myself.

One night, I was watching the television, and one of the candidates was talking to a reporter in an interview. I had seen him and heard him before, and I thought that he looked like a nice guy, and above all, that he was passionate about what he was doing because he never shied away from any question. He always had an answer to every question, and he seemed, to me, as a good candidate. So I said to myself: “all right, I’m going to vote for him.” In a matter of minutes I had made my choice, and I was convinced that I was right: he was the best of all the candidates; he was going to make a difference. So I went to vote, proud of myself, proud of doing my duty as a citizen and convinced that I was changing the world.

A couple of days later, I heard the results from the elections, and he had not won. I was not even disappointed! My thoughts on the matter were so short and small that they had disappeared from my mind quite rapidly. Anyhow, I went to work that morning, and I saw at the entrance of the building a pile of flyers talking about the candidate which I had voted for. So I took one flyer and quickly read, out of curiosity, what it was talking about. They were explaining how all the workers should vote against him because he was pushing for harmful policies. I was stunned! I didn’t know what to think. I was sure I had voted for the right person, yet his policies were apparently bad for my work! Then I thought: maybe they are wrong; maybe what they are saying is wrong. So I read the flyer more carefully, but soon realized that I couldn’t understand the details of the analysis. I then had to admit that I had lied to myself: I had absolutely no knowledge of the candidate’s platform! I had voted as if blindfolded. The only reason for voting for him was that he seemed nice and intelligent. I was angry at myself and told myself from that day on that I should never vote without having a clear understanding of the candidates’ platforms.

But in the following elections, while talking to some friends about the candidates, I realized that the majority of them didn’t really know any of the candidates’ platforms: they were still voting like I had voted the first time! I felt bad for them, and for me, and for every one of us. I asked myself: “what kind of leaders will we elect if we don’t even know their policies? What kind of society are we building? What kind of future do we have?” And this is where the first idea of a license to vote came from I think, it is a remedy to prevent the spread of “blind-votes”.

And I realized afterwards that some politicians relied on this ignorance, by not talking about the entire direction of their policies but rather focusing on single-issues to steal the votes from citizens. In order to protect our society, I think it is vital that we establish a license to vote, modeled on the license to candidature that I described earlier. The tests should nevertheless be less difficult and require a basic understanding of history and politics. A voting license for every level of government should be instituted, so that a citizen with a limited understanding of world history might nevertheless be allowed to vote in his municipality. In this way, every citizen willing to vote will have to pass a series of test bearing upon history and the political structure of society (with a special emphasis on the different powers that the future head of government will be allowed) in order to obtain the right to vote. We should send the following message to every citizen: “Know the political structure of your society and understand the power and the impact your vote might have upon the nation before you are given the right to vote.”

 

 

Implications and responsibilities

 

These are the several legislative proposals that I make in order to improve the quality of our society: eradicate the political parties, install two levels of elections to nominate the provincial and federal prime ministers, a license to present oneself as a candidate and a license to vote. All these things are interrelated and, together, will clean the political life of our country in a very effective way. Our current political organization is actually preventing, more and more, honest people from entering higher public office: it is, quite the opposite, right now, encouraging criminals and dangerous people to enter these positions of power, as we have been noticing through the different corruption scandals in the last years. We don’t want that trend to continue: we want healthy, honest and intelligent people to reach public office. We need radical measures for radical problems: we are destroying our society right now, and we need to turn that around, and since the problem is at the core of our political organization, we need to transform that structure. Only then, will we be able to promote continuously and exponentially our common good towards always higher levels of existence, testing the limit of our happiness, if there is any. When we will be in such a process, we will be able to have a meaningful international influence and promote, in turn, the general welfare of the whole world.

 

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