I am no fan of democracy as it violates individual freedom, but it is also a very poor mechanism for making complicated decisions about running the country.
One of the problems with democracy is that most of the voters don’t understand the issues that they are voting on. They are either intellectually incapable or simply not interested enough to find out and analyse the facts before making a decision.
A lot of voting is simply tribal, “My father and his father and everyone in my family votes labour, I am therefore labour and I will always vote labour” (Or just as often conservative).
A lot of voting replaces the complicated reasoning required to evaluate all the options with simple “rules of thumb”.
I am poor, the poor vote for labour, I will vote labour.
I am rich, the rich vote conservative, I will vote conservative.
I want to save the environment, the greens want to save the environment, I will vote green.
This is of course quite rational behaviour. To make a truly informed choice you would need a deep understanding of economics, philosophy and politics. Even then there are different schools of thought in each discipline, even amongst the “experts”:
Austrian economists v Keynesian economists, Libertarians v Socialists, etc, etc. You would need to examine the policies of both sides and evaluate the impact they would have on you and those you care about. Consider the negative consequences to other groups and after much deliberation select your preferred option.
After expending all this effort your vote will only actually make any difference to the outcome if there is a dead heat between all the other people who generally have no idea what they are voting for!
So a rational person would simply not expend the amount of effort required, given the near certainty that their individual vote will make no difference at all to the outcome.
Democratic politics is not about winning a reasoned argument, it’s not about the collective will of the people making informed decisions about their lives, it’s all about marketing, spin and deception.
If any party tried to win a campaign on the issues, particularly with arguments that are more complicated than their opponents (The truth is usually more complicated than error) they would surely lose.
Campaigns are won by the side that can generate the most fear about their opponents or promise to give the most to the voters.
“A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations has been 200 years.” – Alexander Tytler (Attributed)
Given all this, here is my sure-fire strategy for winning any democratic election:
1) Ignore all the economic and philosophical issues, they will just confuse people.
2) Use as many popular celebrities as possible in all the propaganda material, “If its good enough for Simon Cowell (or Cheryl Cole), (or Coleen Nolan), (or Peter Andre) (or any big brother winner) then its good enough for me” is a powerful rule of thumb, used by advertising agencies to sell all sorts of products to the masses.
3) Accuse your opponent of being evil and give them a destructive “hidden” agenda. The beauty of giving them a hidden agenda is that when they deny it, you can say well of course they won’t admit to their “hidden” agenda. Throw enough muck and some will stick. “There’s no smoke without fire you know”
4) Promise to give everyone free christmas hampers, containing lots of alcohol, every year.
Adopt this strategy and the election is in the bag.
(Unless of course the other side offers a larger hamper)