Arrogant writer thinks he can save the world…part 1

January 30, 2007

Ideas for a more representative political process.

The increasing worldwide trend of branding and labeling in politics has decreased true representation of joe public (you, not the clothing store) in democratic politics. How, in fact, can any system where people are unaware what they are voting for be considered properly democratic? As I have mentioned in a previous post, marketing and advertising companies spend around $450 billion ($450 trillion if you’re an American- I use European billions) on learning how to manipulate you.

That means, on average, they spend 450,000,000,000 times more than your girlfriend/ parents/ kids on getting you to do what they want and I know how good my girlfriend was at that stuff. So you can take it, even if you think you’re a genius, that these folks know how to tap right into the lizard/ mammalian/ orang-outang part of your brain, which isn’t quite so smart, to get you to do what they want. usually this involves buying Pepsi or a burger made from flavoured styrofoam. In politics it means Americans call themselves Republicans or Democrats, South Africans (for all our progress) vote mostly along the old race divide, the English vote along old class lines for Tories or Labour.

In South Africa we used to have Ward Councillors elected directly by the ward of (white) constituents. His or her face was on the poster and they lived in your constituency so if the garbage men didn’t pitch or your house got burgled and the police were lacklustre you could accost them in the supermarket and make their lives miserable. Such are the joys of public service. These councillors, though, were still members of a political party and you tended to vote for the councillor who had the right badge. Parties did, however, tend to replace defective ward councillors rather quickly come the next election.

So, what if you had ward councillors who were not allowed to be official members of parties or funded by them? Who had to come up with their own manifesto aimed specifically at their ward? You would still vote along party lines, with a national and international agenda, in a national election but with indedpendent local elections I think you would see two changes for the better, three if you count panicky, nervous politicians.

First, local ward councillors would be more efficient at delivering to their population what they needed and councillors who did not would find themselves easily turned over. This would be because they, at that level, would be able to afford little marketing and branding and would be individually recognisable and approachable in the community. Everything would be down to the communication skills and credible performances of the councillor in question.

Second, local councillors who were reliable and did serve their constituents well would start to have a strong influence over how people voted nationally. They would be able to feed back to their constituents if they felt hounded, blocked or helped by a particular party in providing what their constituents needed. This would remove some of the power of the branding machine and place it back in the hands of someone trusted by the people of the constituency.

Comments?

Promise not to do anything dull and political for a while after these two.

political posts all at http://midnightjester.newsvine.com

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