It is time to escape the stranglehold of political party autocracy. A new governance system is essential to saving democracy. Do not dismiss the realty that on January 6, 2021, the United States, a bastion of democracy, came remarkably close to becoming an autocracy, if not a dictatorship.
Democratic Individualism throughout many western democracies is endangered as the elites of the political parties increasingly dominate political will. All individual voters must assert their right to self-government by taking control of the institutions of governance. Tribalism, groupthink, is not the answer. Individuals must be willing to each think for themselves, trash their reliance on social media sources; and participate in open discussion with individuals who do not share their point of view. Listening to and understanding opposing points of view is critical to a successful democracy. Resorting to violence cannot be an option. It is okay to pursue personal goals and to participate in the process that identifies and achieves common goals that are in the national interest.
Evolution is inevitable; everything changes, as does democracy. From the beginning, in Athens, Greece about 2,600 years ago, exclusive democracy has prevailed. It has evolved but is evidently worn-out, tired, and democracy is ready for an evolutionary advancement; the people want to be included. As educational access expanded and communication systems advanced, the left-behind citizens came to realize they have been excluded from the political process, and they could do something about it. The desire to be included is now being voiced, often loudly. Exclusive democracy is no longer able to satisfy the evolving needs of the populace and its era is approaching extinction. Exclusive Democracy has evolved, presumably to somewhat address the needs of the evolving populace, but unfortunately the political party elites kept the policy formation process for themselves and from the people.
In part due to the rapidly changing nature of communication systems and advancing access to educational opportunities, the populace has found their voice. They demand that the politicians be held to account, and it is evident that the “people” want to be heard and want their expressed needs and aspirations acted upon. And who is best to turn needs into action? The voters via elected independent representatives unencumbered by political parties and absent the oversight of an “upper” house.
Exclusive Democracy, in top-down fashion, promotes the desires of political elites and the exclusion of the populace. A result is a widening lifestyle inequity gap that is visible to the citizens and not sustainable. We must stop the direct domination of the political elites on policy outcomes. Also, autocracy has again bullied its way on to the world scene as Exclusive Democracy fails.
“… a man with as dirty a record as his! … This is the sort of man that poses as a leader of the people! And successfully, too!” Henrik Ibsen, Rosmersholm
Democracy must evolve to a new Era. Adopt the people-up unicameral Inclusive Democracy system and enhance Democratic Individualism. The time to replace the current system is nigh. We must give – “all citizens the chance to participate equally in economic, social, political, and cultural life”. (6 Degrees – RBC Report).
It is not too late. But as exemplified by the under-whelming adoption of Exclusive Democracy following the” Arab Spring”, given the evident decline in the number of democracies, and the apparent world-wide rise of autocracy, for democracy to survive and thrive it needs a push into the Era of Inclusive Democracy to escape the dominance of political party elites – outlaw the autocratic political multi-party system of governance.
What is democracy?
Democracy is a form of government in which it is intended the people have the right to choose their governing legislation. Who people are and how authority is shared among them are core issues for democratic theory. Generally, there are two types of democracy: direct and representative.
Direct democracy is quite obviously impractical, and unfortunately representative democracy has been high jacked by the political party elites. The exclusive democracy model worked reasonably well until, for sake of argument, the 1960s revolution when for several reasons polarization began to dominate politics and society. Increasing income inequality had a significant role in affording the populace the opportunity to realize they were being left behind. Thus, having become aware of the “great divide”, and that they were not party to the policy formation process, the populace began to express their displeasure and today do so very loudly, sometimes in the streets. Such activism is bringing exclusive democracy to its knees. Evolving to the inclusive democracy model of governance can possibly reinvigorate Democratic Individualism, save democracy, and avoid autocracy.
Tocqueville wrote, “Democracy breaks the chain and frees each link” and, I believe, provides individuals freedom to participate in true democracy as citizens with a common goal: the nation’s well-being – in addition to setting and working toward their own objectives.
In a true democracy, … “The solution for individualism is not religion or human fellowship or central planning – it’s self-government, which allows us to work through free institutions for common purpose … a way forward that tries to make us equal citizens, free to shape our shared destiny, … a road that connects our past to our future”. Last Best Hope: America in Crisis and Renewal by George Packer. Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Copyright © 2021 by George Packer. All rights reserved First edition, 2021.
Exclusive v. Inclusive
Per Exclusive Democracy, political parties have quite clearly demonstrated they find more value in supporting a particular segment of society and generally demonstrate they are less supportive of segments of society that do not share their ideological view. This exclusive view depends upon “cabinet solidarity”, whereby the party platform is inviolate. Cabinet solidarity demands the elected representatives pay heed to the dictates of the party elites, who devise electoral platforms designed to win elections and not necessarily to respond inclusively to the needs of the populace. Top down all the way.
Per Inclusive Democracy, independent elected representatives will carry their constituency message to the legislature. The representatives collectively will produce policy proposals based on what has been learned from their constituents and from interacting with the other representatives. The resulting legislation will necessarily have broad national support unhindered by political parties. The inclusive democracy process requires constituency representatives who communicate well with the constituents, and vice-versa. People-up all the way.
Some 2500 years ago, “Shakyamuni [Buddha] turned politics on its head and proved that the best way to build a healthy society was from the bottom up—through the development of the individual—not from the top down”. Thurman, Robert. Inner Revolution (p. 314). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. A prescient description of democratic individualism, a basic concept of inclusive democracy, including the principle of people-up governance.
We hear and read about the problems facing democracy, BUT where are the proposed solutions. The political scientists seem to have overlooked that “science” includes innovation. We need new ideas, from all sources, to save democracy or face the consequences – that is, autocracy or worse. We cannot let the bullies win!
The goal is to promote political evolution to a system of governance that is inclusive and recognizes the value of Democratic Individualism whereby individuals elect independent constituency representatives thereby putting individuals as close as possible to the ideal of direct democracy. No more political parties and top-down governance. Let the people speak and participate – “people-up” governance. Governance based on the voice of the individuals, tempered by national assembly management of initiatives related to the pursuit of the well-being of the nation.