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How and when did democracy fail?

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Been talking to a few people in RL about the lousy choices we seem to be offered for political leaders lately, here and elsewhere. We're a country of 37 million people, and it seems to me that none of the major politicians at any level are even people to be respected, much less admired. None seem particularly intelligent, honest or charismatic.  None have any real leadership qualities, any vision or integrity, none seem very brave.

There's no one on the federal Liberals' front bench that deserves respect. None of the Tories running for the Conservative leadership is more than a second rate or third banana. The NDP are led by a cretin who seems intent on making his already irrelevant party even moreso.

Down south, I watched a Democratic leadership contest with two dozen candidates who had no clear vision, no ideas, were not brave, smart or charismatic (except for Sanders, who is a loon). What a dearth of talent. Mind you, it wasn't as bad as watching the Republican's last primary, when everyone involved except Bush was a laughable moron you wouldn't trust to walk your dog. In the UK, Boris Johnson seems like a breath of fresh air mainly because he's at least willing to brave the torment of the press and political correct in saying a few things he honestly believes in. A few of his party seem sane and sensible. Most of the rest of the leadership of the UK are nut jobs, especially in the Labour Party. France is run temporarily by an idiot amid the riots and soaring deficits. The EU is a collection of dull bureaucrats. There isn't one leader in the West that deserves the term.

So how come? What happened? Why do we get such losers in politics? Why don't more talented people have any interest? Is it TV and its breathtakingly shallow imagery? The fact most people pay almost no attention to what's going on before voting? Do we blame the lumpen masses for chewing their cud while obediently voting for the usual crew? Is it the lack of time people spend on politics or that they have less time than was once the case? If the voters demanded better candidates would they get them? And what's a better way of indicating lack of enthusiasm about candidates than simply not voting, as more and more people have chosen?

Edited by Argus
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The CPC certainly need someone with a backbone who will stand up to our Dear Leader, not sure if any one of them can do it.  Our Parliament and Democracy are under attack, yet few seem to realize how radical and extreme the federal gov`t has become. 

IMO part of the problem is the bought and paid for media with the Star leading the pack with the recent  most biased and overtly partisan attack I think I`ve ever seen.  I`m not as afraid of the virus as I am the fact that Canadians are so easily manipulated into giving up their civil liberties and so willing to abandon democracy.

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The same reason economics failed - we satisfied our basic needs and now entertainment needs are paramount and politics has transitioned to serve those.  

 

We are unable to sacrifice, to reflect, to weigh options, to discuss trade-offs.  It's our fault.

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Imagine this, in our Brave New World,  a news organization actively campaigning to silence a critic of the government in this strange tale from the Twilight Zone.
https://www.thestar.com/opinion/contributors/2020/05/21/andrew-scheer-is-fighting-the-last-war-which-he-lost.html

meanwhile, Trudeau shuts up his critics by adjourning Parliament
https://www.ourcommons.ca/DocumentViewer/en/43-1/house/sitting-37A/order-notice/page-4o now Parliament is adjourned until June 15th - so Trudeau can continue doling out money etc. etc. with no checks or balances?

 

Edited by scribblet

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Ok - if you want to make this partisan: Trudeau is a flea on history.  He's a non-factor.  Mulroney and Martin made some big changes but the others have been caretakers.

And... the Chicago School of Economics extolled selfishness, and it sort of worked for awhile but we need politics that thinks about the greater good.  Ronald Reagan needs to be dug up, loaded into a cannon and shot into a burning tire fire.   

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Democracy hasn't failed...it has been a victim of its own success.   Ideologies, media access, and the messengers have been democratized by technology.   So called leaders don't matter as much when the plebes can organize themselves.

Economics has always been the foundation no matter what any government may promise you.   That lesson is about to be learned...again.

 

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2 hours ago, Argus said:

So how come? What happened? Why do we get such losers in politics?

Maybe the issue is that there's too many dumb-ass partisan voters.

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I think the increasing media spotlight has a lot to do with it, it puts a ton of pressure on politicians and their families.  What sane and reasonable individual would want to go through that?  Put their families through that?

First, the cable news 24/hr news cycle, and now the recent social media landscape is so brutal.  Politicians are under constant scrutiny.  40 years ago that just wasn't the case.  Even 15  years ago you didn't have daily twitter freakouts.

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34 minutes ago, Michael Hardner said:

Does anyone remember CNN Crossfire?

 

Sure....but Crossfire was late to a media game that was already changing.   Broadcast networks already has a legacy of such formats (Firing Line, Point Counterpoint - 60 Minutes, etc.).   Going to cable was just another step in technology that eventually exploded with the Interwebs.

There are no more gatekeepers, and the political class has to adapt or become irrelevant.   Some have and some haven't.  

It has been said that "democracy" requires more participation by the electorate...be careful what you wish for.

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Trudeau had charisma and presented a vision of Canada that won him many votes.  Partisan conservatives resorted to making fun of his hair, insulting his choice of career and lying about exactly what he taught.  These were not even important attributes, had nothing to do with the job of politician, or his ethics or honesty, yet were repeated ad nauseum.

Why would anyone with vision, charisma or principles want to take on a job where people "in opposition" will use petty criticism, insults and outright lies to undermine them, based on nothing other than the party he or she represents?   Why would anyone want a job where they can't make make even a little mistake, or change their direction based on new information without having their character shredded?  Where even the tiniest hint of human imperfection results in screams of outrage?  Only an idealist or a narcissist, imo.  And the idealist would soon have their idealism shattered as the realities of lobby groups, money and backroom deals became apparent.

If we lack good, honest, visionary potential leaders, maybe its because those people just don't see an upside to putting themselves out there.  And maybe, even if such a person appeared, they wouldn't be recognized because they're on the "other team".  

Edited by dialamah
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10 hours ago, dialamah said:

Trudeau had charisma and presented a vision of Canada that won him many votes.

Trudeau was lagging behind Mulcair when he resorted to outright bribery. His 'vision' for Canada involved holding up fistfuls of dollar bills and saying he would 'tax the rich' in order to give more to the 'middle class' (never defined).

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14 hours ago, scribblet said:

The CPC certainly need someone with a backbone who will stand up to our Dear Leader, not sure if any one of them can do it.  Our Parliament and Democracy are under attack, yet few seem to realize how radical and extreme the federal gov`t has become.

I don't think they're radical at all in contrast to most other western countries. Radical would suggest they had a new idea and were pursuing it. Nothing the Liberals are doing is the least bit new. It's taken wholesale from what Europe has been doing. Unfortunately, no one is going to hold up Europe's governments as strong or responsible.

I think, in some ways, we're a victim of our own empathy and our own desire to be inclusive and share power. There was a time nobody gave a damn what people said or cared about when the views they were expressing were clearly nowhere near the mainstream. Now every nut job has to have their views taken seriously and so we're inundated with the views of the dumb, and governments at all levels do their best to please the dumb and adjust programs and policies to their wishes.

This might seem elitist, but here's the thing, if the average IQ is about 100 that means half the people have IQs lower than that. Ten percent of the population have scores so low they're considered largely useless for any skilled jobs. Another 10-15% are capable of doing some work, but not overly complicated work. I know it's considered rude to say we should largely not pay attention to the views of stupid people but... we shouldn't. But instead we act like everyone is equal. We've dumbed down our schools, dumbed down our universities, and dumbed down our media so as to not offend anyone and let everyone participate. We've also thrown merit overboard in our quest for diversity (see the Trudeau cabinet), which again means people being promoted beyond their means and making policies that don't make sense.

Then too, and many have heard me talk about this before, when almost half the population pays no income tax they're going to vote for whatever party offers more free stuff. But that has an inevitable end in that all the parties compete to offer more unaffordable programs until the debt turns us into Greece, we can't afford the debt payments, and nobody is willing to loan us money any more.

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12 hours ago, Moonlight Graham said:

I think the increasing media spotlight has a lot to do with it, it puts a ton of pressure on politicians and their families.  What sane and reasonable individual would want to go through that?  Put their families through that?

First, the cable news 24/hr news cycle, and now the recent social media landscape is so brutal.  Politicians are under constant scrutiny.  40 years ago that just wasn't the case.  Even 15  years ago you didn't have daily twitter freakouts.

I think that has something to do with it, but also the nature of the coverage. It seems to be a lot of 'gotcha' journalism on the one hand, and cheap, 20 second news clips on the other. We don't see politicians speaking very much at all. We get a few seconds of them, if they say something sound byte worthy, and then the reporter's take (complete with his or her own slant) on what they said. The days when politician's speeches would be reprinted verbatim in the newspapers is long gone. What we tend to have is reporters interviewing other reporters discussing what the politician was saying and meant to say and why. Perhaps as a result, politicians never speak their minds any more. Everything is run through spin doctors and carefully guarded. No one wants to offend. No one wants to have their words taken out of context. No one wants the media to be squealing about the 'inappropriateness' of whatever you said.

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16 hours ago, Michael Hardner said:

The same reason economics failed - we satisfied our basic needs and now entertainment needs are paramount and politics has transitioned to serve those.  

 

We are unable to sacrifice, to reflect, to weigh options, to discuss trade-offs.  It's our fault.

More like no one looks long term. No one cares about what might happen in ten or twenty years. We live for the moment and want policies for the moment. Politicians won't embark on extensive changes like doing something about the mess natives are in, or the health care system, or the legal system because the mess is near-term and the political rewards long-term. Throw a little money at an issue to shut people up and move on.

Edited by Argus
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1 hour ago, Argus said:

Trudeau was lagging behind Mulcair when he resorted to outright bribery. His 'vision' for Canada involved holding up fistfuls of dollar bills and saying he would 'tax the rich' in order to give more to the 'middle class' (never defined).

He did have a vision; it involved giving everyone an equal chance to succeed - women, minorities, First Nations.   Part of the vision was an election system where every vote counted, instead of only around 35%, which would have forced politicians to work together instead of the adversarial system we still have.  Another part of the vision was  that instead of rich people and rich corporations hoarding their money, they'd have to provide more back to the society which helped them amass their wealth.  For the first year, maybe, Trudeau made some attempt to bring that vision to reality, but he gave up pretty quickly and now he's no more or less than any other politician.  I even think it's possible that when he started,  he really did believe these things were achievable, but reality is a harsh taskmaster and so, of course, he failed and the partisans are gleeful on the right side, and enraged on the left side.

Just because you don't like someone else's vision, it doesn't mean it doesn't exist.  And claiming you want a politician with 'vision', but then insisting that 'vision' has to be the same as yours ... well,  you can see what the problem is, I'm sure.  

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1 hour ago, Argus said:

This might seem elitist, but here's the thing, if the average IQ is about 100 that means half the people have IQs lower than that. Ten percent of the population have scores so low they're considered largely useless for any skilled jobs. Another 10-15% are capable of doing some work, but not overly complicated work. I know it's considered rude to say we should largely not pay attention to the views of stupid people but... we shouldn't.

Yes, that is 'elitist', especially coming from someone who regularly insists that those who disagree with him have the IQ of a gnat.  My IQ has tested around 122, but because you don't like what I say, you'd have me down amongst the "stupid people who should be ignored".   You have some kind of megalomaniac conviction that you are the sole arbiter of whether or not other people are smart, stupid, right or wrong, capable or incapable. 

What we need is to start teaching kids from grade school how to use logic, employ critical thinking and assess prospective leaders based on their actual policies and not which party they belong to.  Or how well this guy would be able to "stick it" to the other side, and "make them cry".  If we want better politicians, we have to be better people, imo.

Also, kids should be taught money management and economics starting as early as possible.  

 

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2 hours ago, dialamah said:

He did have a vision; it involved giving everyone an equal chance to succeed - women, minorities, First Nations.

They already have that. Insofar as he had a 'vision' it was simply a regurgitation of the tired old affirmative action programs the US came up with decades ago.

2 hours ago, dialamah said:

   Part of the vision was an election system where every vote counted, instead of only around 35%, which would have forced politicians to work together instead of the adversarial system we still have. 

The NDP had been pushing that for years. All he did was adopt it, or part of it. That was the part which he and the Liberals felt would ensure they were the party in power forever.

2 hours ago, dialamah said:

Another part of the vision was  that instead of rich people and rich corporations hoarding their money, they'd have to provide more back to the society which helped them amass their wealth.

Steal more from the "rich", as I said, the people who already fund just about all government to begin with. That's not a new idea.

2 hours ago, dialamah said:

Just because you don't like someone else's vision, it doesn't mean it doesn't exist.  And claiming you want a politician with 'vision', but then insisting that 'vision' has to be the same as yours ... well,  you can see what the problem is, I'm sure.  

Socialism is not a vision. It is a doctrinaire political program which has failed everywhere it's been tried. Latching onto Socialism by trying to buy votes is not a vision.

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2 hours ago, dialamah said:

Yes, that is 'elitist', especially coming from someone who regularly insists that those who disagree with him have the IQ of a gnat. 

Cite? I"m pretty sure I've never spoken about IQ. Though I definitely have dismissed the idiocy of idiotic people - which is what I'm saying OUGHT to be done. That's why I have such a big ignore list, and why I rarely reply to most of the newcomer idiots here who rant about the 'dems'  or troll about how wonderful 'murica' is.

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My IQ has tested around 122, but because you don't like what I say, you'd have me down amongst the "stupid people who should be ignored".

I wouldn't know what your tested IQ is but most of what you post here lacks wisdom and shows you as not being very much in touch with reality.

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 You have some kind of megalomaniac conviction that you are the sole arbiter of whether or not other people are smart, stupid, right or wrong, capable or incapable. 

All people have that conviction.

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What we need is to start teaching kids from grade school how to use logic, employ critical thinking and assess prospective leaders based on their actual policies and not which party they belong

You don't do that yourself. Maybe you should try.

Edited by Argus

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3 hours ago, dialamah said:

What we need is to start teaching kids from grade school how to use logic, employ critical thinking and assess prospective leaders based on their actual policies and not which party they belong to. 

Yes, but... let's think about how the system was designed and how it evolved.

It wasn't designed for the common man, but for a subset.  And 'man', not women not peasants and so on.  There wasn't universal sufferage.  Those who voted didn't consider identity and equality issues.  And government was far far less complicated than today.

 

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3 minutes ago, Michael Hardner said:

It wasn't designed for the common man, but for a subset.  And 'man', not women not peasants and so on.  There wasn't universal sufferage.  Those who voted didn't consider identity and equality issues.  And government was far far less complicated than today.

Yup, good points.  So while society has evolved, the political system has not?  So has democracy "failed", or has it simply remained true to its roots? 

Western nations have aspirations of a society with social and economic equality, effective and accessible health care and education for everyone, minimal crime.  Can our form of democracy ever deliver on those aspirations?  Some Nordic countries seem to have come close, but they also have a strong element of socialism embedded in their culture.  And anyway without actually living in those places it's difficult to know for sure how accurately they're portrayed in the media.

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2 minutes ago, dialamah said:

1. Yup, good points.  So while society has evolved, the political system has not?  So has democracy "failed", or has it simply remained true to its roots? 

2. Western nations have aspirations of a society with social and economic equality, effective and accessible health care and education for everyone, minimal crime.  Can our form of democracy ever deliver on those aspirations?  Some Nordic countries seem to have come close, but they also have a strong element of socialism embedded in their culture.  And anyway without actually living in those places it's difficult to know for sure how accurately they're portrayed in the media.

1. As BC says, it's a victim of its own success.  But if you want it to do more - to resolve identity issues, to manage essential services that are everywhere, to manage environmental concerns, economic concerns at every turn... maybe a redesign is in order.  

2. Well they already have but nobody is happy somehow.  

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7 minutes ago, Michael Hardner said:

1. As BC says, it's a victim of its own success.  But if you want it to do more - to resolve identity issues, to manage essential services that are everywhere, to manage environmental concerns, economic concerns at every turn... maybe a redesign is in order.  

2. Well they already have but nobody is happy somehow.  

1.  What would a redesign look like?   I really believe the adversarial system we cuurently have does not serve us at all well - the opposition party is almost forced to kneejerk an objection to the ruling party's policy so "lying" becomes a requirement.  They just take turns telling the same lies, it seems.  That was the main reason I hoped for some kind of proportional system that would force the political leaders to develop solutions that let most Canadians feel they'd "won" to some degree.  I'm willing to consider such a hope was naive.  :)

2.  I'd give us a grade of around 75%.  Too many people are still shut out of economic success, of education past Grade 12 and of adequate and timely healthcare, often for reasons beyond their control.  But then, maybe these aren't things government can "fix" anyway.  What would a truly evolved, fair and just society look like, I wonder? 

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The criteria for determining someone's intelligence is whether or not they agree with me. I have to say, you are all doing very well today. Actually, for a politician, that is a valuable thing to know. When any of us listen to a politician, or anyone else, for that matter, when they say something you agree with, it is human nature to say that person is smart. This is because we all, inately, believe we are smrter than anyone else.

I disagree that democracy has failed in Canada. It is true that the best and brightest are deterred from politics because of the gruelling attention from social and mainstream media, but the crew we have now is a good reflection of the country as a whole. I was a conservative activist for thirty-five years and I have to say there have been very few people in government who were better than what we have today. I remember the scandals in Mike Pearson's government, the half wits in the BC governments under Cec Bennett and the scarey days in Alberta under Aberhart and Manning. In Quebec we had the Levesque government where half the Cabinet were either informants for the RCMP or the CIA (Levesque himself). We had MacKenzie King who was PM forever, calling Hitler the "Joan of Arc" of Germany. So, while we do not have  governments of great minds or outstanding integrity, they aren't that bad and they are a reflection of ourselves.  That is what democracy is all about. 

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3 minutes ago, Queenmandy85 said:

So, while we do not have  governments of great minds or outstanding integrity, they aren't that bad and they are a reflection of ourselves.

 I was thinking something along those lines, but my thinking hadn't got to the point where I could articulate it clearly.  Thank you for putting it so well.

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