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Eroding trust from within
Are special interests undermining the effectiveness of democracies?
Public webinar this Thursday, January 6th 3:00pm MST
"Justa Chat" - Join us
Special interests are an important feature of democracies - protected through the Freedom of Speech that serves to protect people from tyranny by the majority. Special interests do contribute to governance by challenging the status quo, serving as a source of innovation and change, often gaining power by tempering or merging with a related interest(s). As special interests grow in number and in influence they complicate governance - a source of fragmentation. In Alberta, for example, there are over 23,000 non-profits each representing a special interest. In addition to complicating governance, special interests today are less prone than ever to be temperate.
Special interests seeking change through power are interested in more than "influence"; they are prepared to go "existential" - never wavering, prepared to "take down" the majority to execute their special interest. Why? One, because protesting enmasse has been working and as such attracting funding. And two, enmasse can now be simulated by social media and public polling both serving to reinforce victim expectations and promises of immediate gratification.
The influence of liberal relativism and post-modernism are forcing a rewrite of history. They portray special interests - namely minorities, as helpless, hopeless "victims" attributable to careless majorities, institutions, governments. No amount of money, promises, legislation, appear however to be fixing these social and financial inequities. Trust has been eroded. The status quo for some is intolerable.
Has the adoption of "consultation" been carried too far? The process is intended to convey sensitivity to special interests by the forces in power. But when is enough is enough? Consider, winning an election "should be" enough to grant those in power sufficient confidence to act. BUT if 50% isn't sufficient, what about 33%?
In the last Canadian federal election the Liberals garnered 33% of the popular vote necessitating a loose coalition with the NDP and a further swing to the left: more spending, more government, more for "victims". The Canadian democratic ship is adrift. The drift is exacerbated by the apparent east/west schism reflecting vastly different interests in social and economic issues among consumers and producers. The schism is also reflected in vastly differing approaches to climate change and interpretations of their respective histories. Other inequities are in ageism and an intergenerational conflict, urban/rural and wealth inequities, and the growth of ESG activism.
How can effective government be restored without resorting to a totalitarian, autocratic, ramrod regime? One is to just split horizontally into separate nations - as Quebec and the Indigenous advocate and Wexit too. Splitting vertically is what the US went through during the "states rights", decentralization movement, transferring power from the federal to the state level. Further splitting transferred power to counties and municipalities. The result - "layered democracy" and the extraordinary growth of government, programs, administration, cost and confusion. Can decentralization and the resulting fragmentation be reversed?
Centralization including the consolidation of power is never evolutionary, and it is not subtle - witness the 20th century revolutions in China, Russia, and Iran. In a democracy centralization requires applying brute force while ignoring special pleas until the opposition either relents, dies off, or is displaced by a failed election. It rarely ends well; once in power, the taste is so good as to want even more.
Centralization in a democracy is a simulation of totalitarianism, creating more victims than it serves causing resentment and resistance. The resistance becomes the rationale for even more power.
Welcome 2022 as we watch which these forces swing; "we" being those for example in the west watching Canada formulate it's Net-Zero Pathway, innovators constrained by an ineffective ecosystem, youth troubled by automation, victims of wealth inequity and the rural/urban divide, and those living through another Covid lockdown. Is more consultation the answer. Should governments just assume their authority and govern or is dithering in the face of uncertainty the answer? Let me know you thoughts. - Editor@KEInetwork.net
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