1. We have added a Gift Upgrades feature that allows you to gift an account upgrade to another member, just in time for the holiday season. You can see the gift option when going to the Account Upgrades screen, or on any user profile screen.
    Dismiss Notice

Unpopular decisions and leadership in democracy

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by amadeus, Aug 1, 2020.

  1. amadeus

    amadeus As seen on OT

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2001
    Messages:
    34,078
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Osaka (大阪)
    General statement one: a good leader sometimes needs to make unpopular decisions.

    General statement two: a good democracy is a reflection of the will of the people.

    Now these two very general statements would seem to me to possibly come into conflict even though I think most of us would more agree than disagree with them.

    So where is the line drawn on when an elected government can make a decision that is unpopular, presumably for the greater good of a country?
     
    Truthy, REDY, AdamCrock and 4 others like this.
  2. haroon

    haroon Deity

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2010
    Messages:
    3,034
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Paris Van Java
    With Internet and mass access to communication technology, perhaps the government should make a live poll for everything that they wanted to decide, so the literal democracy can be apply. So it's always an objective collective, popular, decision :lol: I really wonder how would a nation behave when it's totally controlled by the will of the people.
     
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2020
  3. Ferocitus

    Ferocitus Deity

    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2016
    Messages:
    3,313
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Adelaide, South Australia
    Interesting conundrum!

    I think it's important for people to describe what type of leader they're talking about.
    For example, in Australia, the leader of the party in government might not necessarily agree with a decision made by the senior (or Cabinet) members.
    In that case, the leader is merely a mouthpiece with the responsibility of having to explain the decision to the electorate.
    In other democratic systems, the leader's view carries far greater weight and they might be able to override the views of Cabinet colleagues.
     
  4. Valka D'Ur

    Valka D'Ur Hosting Iron Pen in A&E Retired Moderator

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2005
    Messages:
    23,763
    Gender:
    Female
    Location:
    Red Deer, Alberta, Canada
    This is why Canada is a political mess, for all our international reputation of being a country of polite people. When it comes to politics, we're not very nice to each other, a significant portion of the time.

    If you substitute "province" for "country" you get the worse mess that is my province of Alberta. The UCP won the most seats (I still don't consider the premier to be legitimate since he did not win his party leadership honestly), they have made many unpopular decisions that they claim is for the good of the province.

    Cow pies, most of them.

    The line, in my view, is how much corruption are people willing to tolerate for the so-called "good of the country/province". If we weren't having a pandemic, there would be protests going on, the likes of which haven't been done here in decades.

    Not that it takes a lot of people to make an effective protest. Sometimes all it takes is one mentally ill veteran who got nowhere with trying to get help for his mental and other medical issues, considered his situation hopeless, and took his own life on the steps of the provincial legislature... at the time when the debate going on was whether or not to "reaffirm" the right of doctors and pharmacists to deny MAiD (Medical Assistance in Dying) for reasons of religious belief.

    The debate was cut short when the MLAs were informed that someone had just committed suicide out on the front steps, but did that make an impression on the government? Of course not. What an inconvenience (and what an unnecessary debate in the first place, since the medical professionals and pharmacists already had the right to refuse services on grounds of conscience; the debate was actually over whether or not they should be required to refer the patient to another doctor/pharmacist who would provide the service the patient was seeking).

    You'd get chaos. And if the government words the question in a sneaky or ambiguous way, they can easily manipulate the result to be what they wanted.

    That's how my province's government operates. They claim they "consult" the public by posting surveys, but the survey questions are so obviously biased that it's just insulting to anyone who isn't one of their kool-aid-drinking sycophants.

    Wanna get the result you want on whether to change to permanent Daylight Saving Time or keep changing twice a year? Just don't include an option for permanent Standard Time on the survey and don't allow anywhere for write-in comments. And then claim that "the people have spoken."

    The situation is the same for questions of much greater importance. Everything is slanted, and the premier keeps blathering on about referenda, and mocks the Opposition Leader for calling this undemocratic. It's not the idea of a referendum that's the problem. The problem is that the referendum question(s) will be heavily slanted in favor of the result the government wants, so they can claim that "we're doing what the people voted for us to do."
     
    REDY likes this.
  5. Synsensa

    Synsensa Deity Retired Moderator

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2006
    Messages:
    21,022
    Relativism applies. The power of an unpopular decision should not be discounted, for better or worse. An undeveloped nation familiar with warlords and corruption who gains a progressive leader may face the "unpopular decision" of, say, banning female genital mutilation, or slavery, or raids, or segregation, or what-have-you. Were they wrong to make that decision because it was unpopular? By my ear, it's a good choice, but it still goes against the premise of following the will of the people.

    But this also goes the opposite way.

    An authority making unpopular policy can normalize taboo or resisted behaviour. You can't make it so only "good" unpopular decisions are made. To allow the good, you risk the bad.

    If the next US president forces through universal healthcare or a universal basic income, or major defunding and reform of law enforcement and military, there will be extreme backlash. Millions of people will shout from the rooftops about the destruction of all that is good. Other politicians will do all they can to impede and prevent. We can see that these choices would be good, but they'd be unpopular despite the good sense of it all. Should a leader not be allowed to force those policies through because there's so much resistance? Surely, if it were the will of the people, it wouldn't need to be forced to happen, and thus it should not be given to the people. Except that's not how it works.

    Humans are stubborn. Groups are bad at employing individual strengths. Having a say is important, but we have thousands of years of history to demonstrate that we are not good at moving forward without something forcing it to happen.
     
    amadeus and The_J like this.
  6. Hygro

    Hygro soundcloud.com/hygro/

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2002
    Messages:
    23,133
    Location:
    Montana
    I guess there's a compromise like have executive representation with term limits and a few years between elections.
     
  7. AdamCrock

    AdamCrock Polish Pudding

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2012
    Messages:
    4,742
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Infected zone - Rzeszów
    General statement first : What is democracy :

    General statement two :
    What is democracy ???


    .... fudge
     
    Socrates99 likes this.
  8. AdamCrock

    AdamCrock Polish Pudding

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2012
    Messages:
    4,742
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Infected zone - Rzeszów
    Polish democracy - outnumbered by far ! The orders from high command : stand firm , (we're not gonna help you : Britain and France - cowards ! so called allies ! )

     
  9. Hrothbern

    Hrothbern Deity

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2017
    Messages:
    6,673
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Amsterdam
    For at least a multi party country

    The less people vote for a "leader" and the more people vote for a political party with a political program (with ofc also a leader)... the easier it is to take decisions that do not please everyone of that party (or of the coalition parties) but do fit as best compromise the "overall" political program.

    The more a leader is voted for based on personal likeability from populist sentiments... the more erratic and unpredictable the governing period will be... with less likelyhood to implement longer term goals and policies.
    You basically end up with lots of ad hoc decisions and kicking the can down the road.
     
  10. yung.carl.jung

    yung.carl.jung Hey Bird! I'm Morose & Lugubrious

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2015
    Messages:
    4,813
    Location:
    The Twilight Zone
    One could say that this would not lead to a society controlled by the will of the people, but controlled by technology. Since we humans are so apt at abusing phenomena like nudging, I think this scenario would very quickly devolve into a dystopia. I am generally not opposed to collective mass voting, like they do in Switzerland, but at the same time I am not convinced it has led to much positive outcome. I mean just consider the Brexit and the amount of voter manipulation that was going on via Facebook and other social networks. It's a total cluster****.

    In the end, the more I think about it, the more I come to the conclusion that majority rule is simply a rather bad and ineffective way to govern people. It's inherently disadvantageous to anyone who is not represented as the majority. Most voters could not give less of a **** about trans issues or the environment as long as their portfolios keep rising and as long as their priviledges are protected.

    The more majority rule-focussed a democracy gets, the more polarized the political landscape becomes, the less individual votes and voices count, it all becomes team sports. First past the post was a mistake. The US voting system, obviously, was a mistake. Two-party countries were a mistake.

    I have never agreed more with you, precisely this. Also, just think about the myriad of ways that a person could be soemhow excluded from this voting system. It seems clean and democratic on the surface, and only reveals its draconic and anti-human nature in its crevices.

    Also, I have loved your posts lately.

    This proposition is rather nonsensical unless one is talking about a dictatorship, which likely you weren't. Most civilized countries luckily do not have a "leader" with absolute decision power anymore. New legislation is usually thought up by one organ, voted on by another one, and then ratified by a third one, all of which are (supposed to be) a representation of the populace, since the populace voted them in to exert their will. Also, clearly politicians are still people, still citiziens, and insofar they do also represent the will of the people, albeit only a select few people. I do not think representative democracy is perfect, I critisize it in this very post, but you seem to paint a very simplistic picture of the decisionmaking process.
     
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2020
    Valka D'Ur likes this.
  11. amadeus

    amadeus As seen on OT

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2001
    Messages:
    34,078
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Osaka (大阪)
    Minus the technological aspects of it, the Swiss system of federal referendums seems to put issues directly into the hands of many voters rather than its legislature. I don't know the details of the Swiss system, but I don't think they have to grind down the minutiae of laws like representatives typically do. (Or at least the poor staffers charged with reading and regurgitating summaries to them.)

    If a cabinet minister may make a decision in Australia, can the PM override it or sack the minister? Or is that decision left to Parliament or the parties themselves?

    Would you be willing to summarize one or two of the major ones? When I had initially started the topic, I was thinking more along the lines of some kind of war or national emergency. I'm going to assume in Alberta it's some kind of accelerated depreciation schedule for oil extraction equipment or something that wouldn't be really critical at any time.

    I suppose there are some cases where the will of the majority should be overridden. It also just so happens that those unpopular decisions, like the one you mentioned, should align with my beliefs 100% of the time. :mischief:

    @yung.carl.jung, this would also apply to you: I suppose I could broaden the term "leader" to include the judiciary. When the Supreme Court of the United States declared laws prohibiting interracial marriage unconstitutional, 73% of Americans were still in opposition to mixed white-black marriages.

    I could see this, but would you say there are many countries where candidates within parties don't draw voters? Do people in the Netherlands vote on platforms, or personalities of the party leadership? Not meant to be accusatory questions! :)
     
    Synsensa likes this.
  12. west india man

    west india man Immortal

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2008
    Messages:
    9,237
    Location:
    Brazil
    both general statements are wrong: leaders can't be unambiguously good, and electoral systems can't reflect even majority rule, let alone the ''will of the people'', however much they try
     
  13. amadeus

    amadeus As seen on OT

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2001
    Messages:
    34,078
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Osaka (大阪)
    When has being wrong ever stopped people?
     
  14. EnglishEdward

    EnglishEdward Deity

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2008
    Messages:
    4,391
    Location:
    England
    In general, I agree with these postulates.

    When important decisions need to be made urgently e.g. supporting an
    ally that has been sneak attacked or imposing a medical quarantine.

    Problem is that many decisions leaders decide to make without properly consulting
    the electorate are unpopular for the very simple reason that the decisions are wrong.
     
  15. yung.carl.jung

    yung.carl.jung Hey Bird! I'm Morose & Lugubrious

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2015
    Messages:
    4,813
    Location:
    The Twilight Zone
    I think another problem with "majority opinion" is that a lot of people uncritically think that public polls actually represent the will of the people. they do not. if the polls are conducted via telephone, then inmates, homeless people and people without landline are out (which, considering America, is like a significant part of the population). If it is conducted via internet, it might be even more people that aren't heard. we may never have a proper way to numerically represent the will of the people, and indeed we may not even know if people answer a survey truthfully or not. obviously I think public polling is probably still the best alternative we have, but one should not view every poll done by Pew research center is infallible (I hope this is a word).

    This is a pretty good example. I am sure structural issues can explain participation levels in this specific poll, and therefore invalidate some of its results.

    But in the end I still agree with your premise (if that is what you're saying): Sometimes it is definitely just to ignore the majority opinion. it definitely was correct in this specific scenario, I think we all agree.
     
  16. AdamCrock

    AdamCrock Polish Pudding

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2012
    Messages:
    4,742
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Infected zone - Rzeszów
    Two thirds majority ? (in most cases) of the parliament. Democracy is never a single ruling body (unlike a king / dictator / emperor) The president however holds a "veto" on a ruling so he can "block" but that's about it. It all depends on our "unconscious" consent. We give leave to those elected by us - that's "social contract". Is it good ? No , but no one ever invented a better system.
     
  17. EnglishEdward

    EnglishEdward Deity

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2008
    Messages:
    4,391
    Location:
    England
    A lot of people may not have approved of interracial marriages for a variety of reasons,
    but that does not necessarily mean that they wanted interracial marriage to be illegal.
     
    yung.carl.jung likes this.
  18. amadeus

    amadeus As seen on OT

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2001
    Messages:
    34,078
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Osaka (大阪)
    That is true but I stopped short of saying it because it illustrated my point even if the figures weren't correct.
     
  19. AdamCrock

    AdamCrock Polish Pudding

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2012
    Messages:
    4,742
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Infected zone - Rzeszów
    I would also like to point out that United States are not a Democracy (speaking of practicing of what You preach) , They are a Federation ;) (It's like a bunch of states working together under one flag) Russia is too a Federation , but Russia ... "is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma."
     
  20. amadeus

    amadeus As seen on OT

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2001
    Messages:
    34,078
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Osaka (大阪)
    It holds elections that are free, fair, and regular. The technical definition of a democracy in this context seems like a triviality.
     

Share This Page