How does the voice of the independent thinker get heard in politics these days?
It seems, in so many places in the world, all we are successfully creating are more polarized societies, with the voices of reason often drowned out by the radical voices on the extremities. Which means, at least from this author’s perspective, that people get forced by the system into voting for what they believe is the lesser of two evils rather than a thought through, balanced and consensus based decision that can be supported by the vast majority of the population; a decision, a plan and an agreement that can be taken back to constituencies and sold to them on the basis that it makes the best sense for us. A plan that makes sense in terms of our shared values, the limited resources the country may have and for building long term value.
If we look at the example of a company, a well-run company, when there is division amongst the executive, they get as much information as they can about the issue, they table as many as possible solutions –without criticism , and then work it out until a good decision can be made. And once that is done, Supply Chain doesn’t hammer Marketing, and Marketing doesn’t hammer Finance just because there are functional priorities that may have had to slip because of the trade-off’s needed to ensure that overall the company does better than its competitors. No, they agree to the plan, they commit, they establish the standards and controls and then go all out to make it work within the context of the plan established. Because if they don’t every section suffers and everyone fails.
Unfortunately when it comes to Country Pty Ltd and politics, it seems that political parties negotiate almost exclusively on a win-lose basis, often forgetting that solutions to a problem don’t always come from a single political guise but from the many parts of society. And that the right solution, might actually come from a minority view. So it seems that when the “other side” has meaningful solutions, these solutions are almost immediately discounted as “coming from them” and so over time individuals and organizations get discredited in public to such an extent that even the good that they have gets lost in the haze of shouting and opinion driven comments. The thing about a shouting match is that neither side walks away with any real credibility, even though they will claim it far and wide.
It should therefore come as no surprise then, in this to and fro confrontational process, that all we do is create fertile space for astute and manipulative individuals, that are only looking out for themselves, to step to the fore and manipulate the system. And because they don’t have the best interest of the country at heart, they end up destroying the hard work many generations before them had done- all in the pursuit of short term gains. I have personally experienced this process as it unfolded in a good organization, a good organization that no longer exists today. And now it seems that this very process is unfolding before our eyes in many countries around the globe.
Doesn’t this mean that it’s time we relook the concept of "Democracy"? That we need to re-agree on how participation and decision making is supposed to work within it? Especially now when in many instances so called democracy ends up being nothing more than a Duopoly at best, or at worst a dysfunctional monopoly, rather than a true and meaningful broad based representation and participation process?
Though we all have responsibilities in terms of participating in our democracy, it is this author’s opinion, that ultimately it is up to leadership, sound leadership, to create the context within which participative democracy can thrive. For without it, democracy simply cannot deliver what is needed by this country to succeed in a dynamic and changing world.