Building a Better Democracy

It’s always been important for me to have people in my life who challenge my views and ideas. I feel it helps me make better, more informed decisions. It motivates me to dig deeper into issues. It helps me find possible faults or weaknesses in my own positions.

In government, governance, and politics, whether at the local level or higher, I think we all realize the value of diversity. As long as people can be civil, it’s really valuable to have a mix of opinions and viewpoints.

You may be familiar with the parable of the blind people and the elephant. The illustration below conveys the basic message of the parable.

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Faith in Democracy is to trust that if we work together, intentionally bringing together representatives of diverse views and agendas, we can arrive at a better understanding and help build a better world. We can be united despite our differences.

As Pope Francis has stated:

“It sometimes happens that complete information is not put on the table; a selection is made on the basis of particular interests, be they politico-economic or ideological. This makes it difficult to reach a balanced and prudent judgement on different questions, one which takes into account all the pertinent variables. Discussions are needed in which all those directly or indirectly affected…can make known their problems and concerns, and have access to adequate and reliable information in order to make decisions for the common good, present and future.” ~ Pope Francis, quote from Laudato Si — On Care for Our Common Home (see on Google Books)*

We all need each other. We’re all responsible for one another. The video below illustrates this principle.

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This article is by Greg Johnson of Iowa City.

Efficiencies and Benefits of Dictatorships

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Best Possible Outcomes

Military dictatorships and fascist regimes are generally considered less than ideal for the citizens they control. Yet, they do offer some potential efficiencies. Assuming those in control are not overly hostile or oppressive, and if they selflessly have the people’s best interests in mind, then such a government could be quite efficient and beneficial.

Effective governance requires some expertise and specialized education to gather data, interpret the data, and make determinations based on what’s in the broadest and best interest of everyone.

If highly competent, well educated, and well informed leaders are running a government, their results may be better than a country run by an under educated, poorly informed, democracy of people.

Consider this example… An auto mechanic, as an experienced specialist with the right tools, can fix your car better than 100 people without the proper tools or experience. Even if the group of 100 were to be guided by democratic principles, they couldn’t achieve what the one skilled person can accomplish.

Worst Possible Outcomes

Unfortunately, dictatorships typically use force to control the masses, and there’s little tolerance for dissent. Dictators are often not the most intelligent or capable people, but among the most conniving, militaristic, and exploitative people who take control by force sometimes combined with a controlling charismatic leadership style. This style of leadership is also employed by cults that use persuasive and charismatic religious dogma or philosophical teachings to control their members.

When wealth, ownership, and government control is in the hands of a few, but delegated out in small quantities, it can create the illusion of a democracy. In the case of a corporate controlled imperialist military empire, a nation’s military may be used for creating the conditions needed for maximum profits rather than spreading democracy and freedom.

Requirements for Better Outcomes with Democracy

It’s important to acknowledge the potential benefits of non-democratic governing. This establishes a baseline for optimal outcomes from a democratic government.

For a democracy to produce better outcomes than the best case scenario of a dictatorship, all citizens must be well educated (for critical thinking), well informed (on history and current issues), and highly motivated to be engaged in the processes of citizenship and democracy.