Democracy has fallen into the trap of all power. It’s become about the wielder of power not about the people.
The idea of democracy is an ideal. It is a hope that giving the people a voice and a choice would motivate them to build a better world not just with other political bodies but with each other. To create connections to each other which would transcend the tribal(us vs them) and become a collective we. Thus we the people. It clings to the idea that the individual can both work towards their own goals while attempting to give others the best chance at good.
But it is here that is the first danger. What is good for me, individually, may be dangerous or disastrous for others.
The second danger is that of the collective. As people grow in numbers, in groups, it is less and less that the logical or those with ideas are leaders and more about charisma and how many people can you sway to your way of thinking.
The first was fought by creating the position of a representative who will take the idea of the collective good and represent that idea to create laws and a nation. With the understanding that failure to represent the will of the individuals who elected them will result in their being replaced. But the hope was that this representative would act in the best interests of the people. Not just give them what they said they wanted. In fact, it’s a bad idea to give people exactly what they want. Our stories are littered with the consequences of doing just that. The destruction of acquiring what we want is recounted over and over. It was the hope that a representative would see what we need to get some of what we want and work towards that.
But we are humans. And representatives almost immediately split into factions and those factions began to shape laws which benefitted those in power. Themselves. While occasionally throwing some bits and pieces to the groups that got them there. Those representatives gave power to these factions to enhance their own power but instead stripped themselves of the autonomy which allowed them the freedom to operate in both their own and their constituents best interests. Instead owing allegiance to the party rather than the people.
So the first danger falls prey to the second and we are thrust back into factions. And worse, we become beholden to them for identity. Because we as humans are swayed by what we are included into rather than a greater idea of self. Most people just want to live lives which are just hard enough to be interesting but not so difficult that there is struggle. So they allow others who want that power, want that struggle to become their rulers.
The only benefit in a democracy is that sometimes people can be motivated enough to act in their best interests and vote to remove those causing them harm. Stripping them of power.
But here is where the faction comes into play. By excluding other voices from the election and allowing only those who they know will act in good faith for their interests. Parties are the very definition of special interest groups yet are always pointing outside themselves at the other.
I don’t have a solution. Because this is extremely complicated and how do we create a system which both minimizes and weaponizes human self interest while allowing for the human need to be a part of a group without giving control to that group while giving enough power to make decisions which will effect other people.
Democracy is fucked up. But it must be ruthlessly preserved even against itself. And it must be brutally examined. Are your ideas for all of the people or only for your self interest? Do you act because you must for the greater good or because it will please your party or your friends? We must be willing to accept that other people and other ideas may be better than our own or our groups and work towards a common good.
This increase(some would say, inevitable increase) in factional power undermines the goals of democracy. And the thought may be to outlaw factions but I would counsel against driving factions underground. It is much easier to fight what you can see.
My hope is that people who seek office will use the parties to gain access to power then use that power against the factions in the interest of the entire group they represent rather than merely for those who elected them.
Maybe I’m just a hopeless romantic.