Tuesday, November 30, 2010

By-Elections by the book. . . . .

People like to analys elections. They like to put various kinds of spin on the events that have to do with the perceived context of the events, the strengths or weaknesses of various leaders and/or candidates, the particular moment in the economic picture, these are the kinds of things that people talk about on the day after an election. But sometimes I just like to remember a basic principle; voters are simply wrong a lot of the time. We can recall countless occasions when voters have just elected the wrong people, period. From one extreme to another, bad, dishonest, cruel, self-interested, even evil people have sometimes been intensely popular and often they've been elected with landslide support. The reasons for this phenomenon are sometimes complex at the local and contextual level, and sometime painfully simple at the wider distal level. Many people are habitually misinformed about specific issues and an even higher number of people simply don't understand the basic economic and social relations of the society in which they live. In many cases people are simply duped by a socio-economic ideology that they think favours their interests but really favours the interests of a small elite. In other cases people are just bad themselves; they lack basic compassion and concern for others so they elect people that they think reflect their own harsh world-view.

People like Mussolini and Hitler are electable because negative, destructive policies always have an advantage. Just as it is easier to destroy than to create, it is often a simpler matter to sell fear and anger, to scapegoat the poor and the vulnerable, than it is to promote a positive long-term approach to building a better society. Moreover, people are so indoctrinated by basic elements of capitalist hegemony that they have trouble imagining a different kind of society. They have been told so often from early childhood that poor people are shiftless and lazy that these idea are steeped into their subconscious mind and they cannot think in a different paradigm.

And so it will continue for the foreseeable future. People will vote for bad people because many of them are bad and profoundly ignorant. And until circumstances change drastically or people decide that they want a more compassionate, more educated, and more widely prosperous world, they will only face the future kicking and screaming.

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