The Illusion of Democracy
ï»¿Last night I was watching a show with a mock pageant, one where the viewers participated in the outcome.Â The viewers voted on the finalists, those selected by the judges to be of the best quality, thereby controling the outcome of the pageant to only those who were acceptable to the judges.Â This is not unlike any reality show, where choices are already narrowed, making the decision easier.Rewind about two thousand years.Â Rome was a dominant power, having emerged from their Republic after a series of civil wars between powerful political and military men.Â Now, at the end of the last pretexts, an imperial dictatorship was put in place, though Octavian, now Augustus, kept the pretext of choice and the Republic by having a Senate for which the people voted; a Senate with little power.Â But the pretext, or the illusion of choice allowed the people to feel as though they still had a voice and could participate in politics.Now fast forward to the 1780's, when the United States of America was being formed. The Founding Fathers, finding problems with the Articles of Confederation in their effectiveness, met to draw up the Constitution.Â This is when the three branches of Government were defined, their spheres of influence set.Â Part of that definiton process outlined the methods of appointment.Â Because of concerns regarding the common man's understanding of the issues, an intermediary was created to vote on their behalf.Â This intermediary, the Electoral College, can vote any way they want, though they generally (with one exception) vote with the results of the Popular vote.Â So the people have only the illusion of Democracy, choosing instead intermediaries to worry about their political future.I think that Scott Adams put it best:Â Two Choices give the illusion of leadership.Â As long as we are given a choice between two things, we are happy.Â Republican or Democrat, Capitalism or Socialism, local vendors or corporate stores, etc.Â Our society is built on these kinds of choices, these illusions of power and leadership.Â Society doesn't seem to want to worry about the details, just the choice.But, you might ask, I have the freedom to choose, so that's all I need, right? Â Well, the thing is, those who want you to choose their way know we prefer simple choices, and as such try to frame our public opinions by trying to make their side seem like the side of reason. Â They do this by distorting facts, telling half-truths, and providing "spin" on any and all positions. Â This practice has been running in Politics since politics started. Â As I'm sure the Ancient Greeks could attest to, it has had devastating results to nations and the lives of others.Please don't take anything I say to be supportive of any political agenda. Â I just started to notice this pattern, and thought it interesting that democracy as we know it is nothing more than an exercise in managed choices for those who are too busy with their own lives to be bothered with "the issues". Â The only way to avoid that is to become active with the issues, which can take time away from other activities. Â That again, is a choice... Â how managed it is depends on ourselves, I suppose.