"An election is nothing more than an advance auction of stolen goods." -- H. L. Mencken
We really need to take a new approach as we are getting nowhere with our present approach. And it really is a serious matter. Humanity has suffered greatly and is likely to continue to suffer if we do not come up with a better approach.
Of course, I am not so vain as to think I have the answers. No, I don't have the solutions, but I can make suggestions on a new approach to politics in which some answers might be found. And secondarily, I hope to show why the current approaches are absolutely futile. If you think (or know) I am wrong, then please show me my errors. Maybe together we can come up with something useful.
The most fundamental rules for understanding human social behavior are the following:
#1: People tend to do that for which they are rewarded and tend to avoid that for which they are punished!Wait a minute, you say, 'Those platitudes are so ridiculously simple and obvious as to be useless'. I think not -- but if you do then my challenge to you is to try them the next time you are puzzled by some political activity. For, if you accept these rules as useful interpretations of political and group behavior, then your understanding of why politicians do what they do will be vastly different from what the press and folk wisdom would have us believe.
#2: What a group does is determined by what the individuals in the group do!
(A friend pointed out that there is a classic paper on this concept: "On the folly of rewarding A, while hoping for B", by Steven Kerr, originally written in 1975)
Consider this simple example: Why do government agencies not go away when they have reached the end of their usefulness? For example, the Rural Electrification Association (REA), which did a great service to our country by assisting in the electrification of our rural areas several decades ago, is still in business even though everyone has electrical power that wants it! Why?
Applying Rule #1, we can easily understand. They are in business because they are well rewarded for staying in business. They have cush jobs with good pay and little to do. It should be easy to solve this problem now that we understand it.
For more on the subject of group behavior, follow the link to my essay titled, Social Behavior.
Kicking politicians is about like smashing your car because it doesn't run worth a hoot after you rebuilt the engine! This gem of human behavior we apparently learned from the Christian religion that tells us that God is beating the hell out of us because he became very annoyed at our behavior very shortly after he put us together!
For the most part, the politicians in Washington wouldn't be there if they were not doing the bidding of their constituents. In my particular area of the country, while we hope that others are cut back, we will fire our Representatives unless they bring home the Bacon (Pork?)!
I have a short essay here on Political Realities that you may want to take a look at. It is not a pretty site!
Is there, in all republics, this inherent and fatal weakness? Must a government, of necessity, be too strong for the liberties of its own people, or too weak to maintain its own existence?The idea that a government is necessary to keep peace among the members of society is an old one. In Hobbes' famous Leviathan, written in 1651, he expounds on the nasty nature of human beings and the necessity of having a government to keep peace. Garrett Hardin in his famous essay, "The Tragedy of the Commons" expresses the need for "mutual coercion, mutually agreed upon".
— Abraham Lincoln, July 4, 1861
In other words we need a pack of referees such as the football players have agreed to. The idea seems to work quite successful for them. The football players hire the referees, pay them, respect their decisions, etc., all because they realize that they could not play the game without them. Why not? Of course, part of the need is for someone to act as a judge on close calls. But a bigger part is to keep down cheating. It is accepted by the football players that, left to their own devices, they will cheat. Hardin and Hobbes are saying that the rest of us also need a referee -- which is commonly called "a government".
Note that the football players pay the referees and they also control the books. The mistake we have made with government is that we have agreed to pay them but we also stupidly said, "We will let you keep the books". When we did that, we lost control!
In this section, I will post links to anything I can find on this concept. Maybe if we put our heads tougher, we can figure out a way to take back the "books". I promised at the beginning of this essay that I would make a suggestion of two on what we might do to take back the control of our country. Well, there you have it: take the books away from the politicians and give them to a professional account firm! If it works for General Motors, it ought to work for the government!
An argument that government coercion is not necessary is presented by Don L. Tiggre in his essay, "Hard Questions on Freedom".
Here is a short essay, "Political Philosophy Discovers Common Sense", one of Dr. Clancey's lectures, that discusses government's obsessive desire to redistribute the private wealth and goods that their citizens may acquire -- by hook or crook.