Allan Takes Aim Blog

Destroyers of Democracy

Posted on: 2 August 2013

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Destroyers of Democracy:

Group Think politics plus Facebook and Twitter

The date of Australia’s federal election has a Christmas feel about it: it’s still coming, which has nothing to do with this blog.  Incidentally, I think the title of the blog title would make for a good political debate. The only problem is that while the idea of the debate might be good, the debate’s promoter would not be able to guarantee its quality as the quality would depend on the calibre of the politicians agreeing to participate.

It is said the age of miracles has not yet passed but after hearing many would be and current politicians speak recently, I am not too sure the quality of the debate would be such that apart from a few masochists that it would attract much of an audience. It might also be equally difficult to get a promoter to stage the debate.

But being an optimist, I think the election date will be announced soon at which time the wannabes politicians whether new, or making another attempt at re-election, will be out on the hustings even if the hustings are all inside these days, expounding on policy.

However if they follow the same path on the hustings I wonder if any of them will have anything new to say or will it be the same as pre the start of the election campaign where their performance suggested they had undergone hypnosis and been programmed with sets of words, triggered by a question, that are identical with words uttered by party colleagues elsewhere. In fact I felt they knew little about many of the issues they were talking about. .

The suggestion of being controlled by hypnosis, the equivalent of group think, would avoid candidates making speeches that could have a catastrophic effect on a party’s chances at the ballot box. But even if some candidates do care, often they bow to the might of the party executive to avoid being cast in the role of political leper.

The sad effect of this is, that many voters never get to know the qualities of candidates at State, Territory and Federal elections and what they think the most important issues facing local communities or the nation. In reality what is happening is that the principle of real Democracy is being replaced by what party executives call democracy.

Helping this process is the increasing emphasis political parties and candidates put on those so called social communication tools called Facebook and Twitter. Coming face to face and having a discussion about policy or new ideas with a candidate is rapidly becoming something obsolete. This suits many putative politicians because anything that limits their conversation to 140 words or not many more, is welcome.

Facebook and Twitter are welcome for another reason. If the number of people who click on ‘follow’ in a Party or candidate’s Facebook or Twitter website is big they can legitimately claim they have a big audience for their ideas. This is nonsense of course: while many people will follow once out of curiosity and never visit the site again ,the number of registered followers will not decrease.

Some people will disagree with what I’ve written. If you are one of them and wish to make your disagreement known you can write up to 700 words in rebuttal.

Comment welcome.

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