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The operating principle in almost all democratic legislatures is based a system of party politics. Customarily, that system consists of a party that forms the government. Against this ruling party is an official opposition and the two must be in an adversarial relationship. In some countries the opposition party is a formality or non-existent. In Canada, usually, a third party, may team up with the government to enable them to hold on to power. Alternatively the third party and any others may independently choose to attack the government and opposition, as serves their purpose of enhancing their public image. It is the job of the Official Opposition however, to be a thorn in the flesh of the party that forms the Government. In other words, in our present system the Official Opposition has carte blanche to criticize actions or proposals of the Government without consideration of whether the public will benefit from any of these. The skill of the Opposition is demonstrated in how cleverly they condemn even the most obviously reasonable direction of the Government. This ability to denounce extends to finding a way to criticize policy even they themselves had implemented when they formed the previous Government.
Clearly conducting the business of politics in this manner is irrational, counter productive, even destructive to progress and unnecessary.
Based on the Rule of Law, Canada’s parliamentary system appears to reflect the courtroom adversarial process. Lawyers use knowledge of the law and of examples of previous court decisions, which support the case for the complainant or plaintiff they represent, against the presentation of lawyer(s) on the other side. In parliament all parties claim to present the “people’s case”. It is however the size of the Government’s majority that almost always determines legislative agenda. When they choose to champion any part or type of the “people’s case”, in all probability self-interest is the motivation. Moreover within the Government and other parties the power of the leader of the party determines the content of the political agenda or one in which usually the largest footprint is the leader’s.
A critical difference between parliamentary proceedings and a legal judiciary is the impartial and authoritative oversight of a Judge who decides on matters based on the pertinent information put forward. Whether a decision is to be enforced rests with the Judge(s) in that Court. No such overseer directs the parliamentary process and outcomes. The Speaker of the House presides over compliance with parliamentary procedures and other aspects of administrative and financial policy; but does not decide how to settle a matter on the government’s agenda. The party in power, the government, gets to implement its wishes by winning the vote in Parliament, based on its majority.
Gaining or losing sufficient supporters of the government or any other party depends on their ability to access a sufficient number of people, sometimes helped by behind-the-scenes negotiations before and after the election, in order to claim electoral victory. In the political context, at every election, the voters are supposed to act in the place of the Court Judge. They are however, not impartial and are usually manipulated at several levels, by each side, before the election to ensure the most votes go in their party’s favor. Of course, participants in political trickery and their supporters will deny engaging in manipulating potential voters; but we’ll agree to disagree.
The Present System Is Untrustworthy
Another essential difference in decision-making between the political process of voting in parliamentary and legal adjudication is that the information at election time or in parliament may or may not be fact. And as such the public does not have a reliable basis on which to decide on whom to put their trust. Election promises, the effects of the Government’s actions prior to the election and cleverly devised schemes are what generate allegiance, opposition or apathy from various groups or segments of society, till the next election when the manipulation starts over again. In this climate of political life, good decisions get blocked; bad policies are adopted to satisfy pressure groups or assert a power posture. In addition to these obstacles to progress, when some good plans that are realizable or have been achieved get laid out, heckling and baseless denunciation from the opposition often prevent or hinder recognition of the government’s successes. Undoubtedly there are times when the government’s actions need to be opposed or criticized. The continual use of obstructionism, negative twisting of facts and/or discounting tactics by the opposition, along with a persistent acrimonious attitude however, are ingredients for anything but productive decision-making! Moreover in most cases the party leaders are responsible for allocating official roles, which usually include a variety of benefits, to party members. In such a political atmosphere the leader’s agenda becomes the government’s and in turn is considered as representing the people’s “democratic” choice. To boot, the current practice of party politics would allow certain leaders to exercise dictatorial power, pushing parliamentary activity further from true democracy. It is difficult to see what is admirable or commendable about such a political process.
In addition to structural and functional weaknesses impeding its progress, the work of legislatures is also exposed to internal and external coercion. A major source of political pressure is Big Business, a sector of society that has huge potential with practiced tactics to shape the actions of government to their benefit. As a result influential politicians who have something to gain may avoid confronting or antagonizing that group for fear of losing their favors, which may come in many forms. To this end, the government tends to enthusiastically promote certain legislations, build in legal loopholes, stonewall and/or engage in foot-dragging to support or protect potential business benefactors, ignoring how these businesses exploit or even injure people. By such means wealthy businesses may get the political leadership of their target group to kowtow, withhold proper scrutiny of unethical and unjust practices and/or to just play blind. Big Business Money appears to be the source of their massive power to influence and intimidate. The goal of such actions is of course usually to be able to make more money. In the meantime the disadvantaged fall between the political cracks or get ignored. For these and other reasons, we need to improve or change this very faulty system.
The Solution: Elect Ideas not People – A “New Democracy” Theory
In this proposed system, what used to be “political parties” are now formed by like-minded people coming together to align with a group of ideas, prior to an electoral cycle (or general election). The ideas to be put forward will be known as Propositions, on which basis Proposition Groups (PG) will form. The Propositions will be aimed at producing:
(1) The best all-round progress that can be achieved in the period between two electoral cycles (presently known as general elections).
(2) The most peace of mind or inner peace (PoM/IP) for the citizens.
- Each PG will choose members to a General Appointment Committee (GAC) who will appoint a Propositions Analysis Group (PAG).
- The PAG panel formed from each PG (by a proportional process based on the total number of parliamentarians) will select a certain number of ideas contributed by the public, to be organized and provided with operational plans for each group of propositions. Teaching the skills for obtaining and maintaining joy in life however will always be an integral part of the governmental operational plans
- The PAG will categorize according to themes and analyze ideas from Proposition Groups for Parliamentary discussion and implementation. The work of PAGs will include canvassing the public and the Propositions Groups for more information, ascertain authenticity of propositions from PGs, make announcements relating to timelines.
- Propositions brought forward by PAGs will be grouped by similarity or other workable quality by a panel of mixed jury of experts and ordinary citizens. The Propositions Grouping Panel (PGP) will be headed by a PAG member after every electoral cycle
- All PGs are eligible to present ideas
- The PGs choose their best candidates (limited number of people per group) who will grapple with the grouped and analyzed ideas from PAGs. This group will form Parliament. Everyone looks after everybody’s needs that the ideas may present.
- Parliament will deliberate ideas from the PAG and the Executive Propositions Distillation Council (EPDC). The EPDC are Deputies and Lieutenant Governors who assist the Governor General (explained below).
- A Parliamentary Propositions Liaison Representative (PPLR) will be chosen from among the parliamentarians (from each PG) to coordinate Parliamentary decisions to be publicized or sent back to the EPDC and PAG as identified in parliament, for further analysis or that may call for more canvassing. The PPLR must give up allegiance to any PG during the election cycle.
- A PPLR may be replaced through a system to be set up by EPDC for the PGs. Those removed cannot return till the next electoral cycle.
- The voters decide on which plans are acceptable, by voting on the set of plans and set of ideas separately and the entire Parliament will deliberate the “elected” and “processed” propositions.
Governor General (GG)
- The GAC will send “processed” names to Parliament as nominations for appointing a GG who will act as the Speaker now does and is responsible to move governmental process along.
- The GG will deploy deputies (Lieutenant Gs) to various groups temporarily or permanently meeting in Parliament so all deliberation groups are covered by an administrative overseer within each electoral cycle.
- The GG and deputies will investigate election and “process” fraud for forwarding to the police.
- Attendance in Parliament is compulsory and both absenteeism and disruptive behavior incur heavy fines. Parliamentarians vote to punish or expel offenders; definitions, options and procedures will be written in law.
- The administrative structure of the parliamentary system, budget and writing the laws for this system is the responsibility of the GG, with the Lieutenant Gs forming the EPDC and acting as assistants to the GG.
- The compensation package for parliamentarians and GG must be hefty. Deputies are always one level below the GG
- Professional groups will continue to exist, as now or differently, and from one such will go the responsibility to write up laws, make budget etc as members of the Civil Service, with heads being EPDC members.
- A Parliamentary Spokesperson (PS) will be appointed each time to head delegations of experts who are selected to attend international meetings and negotiations on behalf of the government.
Examine and Share
To prove the EP theory, the ideas and component parts this New System of governing need to be discussed, fleshed out and role-played in simulations in schools, universities, think tanks, an assortment of secular and religious groups and families etc., in consideration of its practicality. As usual with the exception of people with a specific psychological condition that actually impairs objectivity, those who find no room in these ideas to advantage themselves or the faction(s) they represent will oppose or vilify this approach as well as try to nullify the method. Well-meaning others will find ways to improve on them and facilitate its materialization for the benefit of all.
A serious flaw in the current adversarial party politics is the apparent opportunity it gives for individuals who are so inclined to be oppositional for show and/or personally enrich themselves. Initially, the loss of old-style ideological stance will be threatening. Eventually, the blocking of previously available ways of acquiring wealth or of gaining public profile will undoubtedly become a nuisance. Such unethical motives appear to be very rampant in the morass that is presently disguised as party politics. On account of this, the honest intention of the very few who participate in politics genuinely, to improve the lives of people, becomes lost. Up until now, Government for the good of the people tends to be secondary, unachievable, or else a frustrating uphill battle. The solution to phony politics cannot be to just throw up our hands in the air believing there’s none. We can propose alternatives for discussion and refinement or rejection; and some solutions may be radical and out-of-the-box as the one presented here. The goal is to ensure good government.
Because of our desire to be rich we support anyone, group or scheme that promises us material prosperity. Most people do not know or think that we can learn to be satisfied and happy with just a little more than what is needed to live. The vast majority has come to believe in amassing extras, to be like others. If we have a system however, which guarantees everyone self-satisfaction and joy in life we will not go after material wealth quite so hard. I guess this is what Communism tried to institute (minus the built-in inner peace component) but became bogged down with corruption in its own way such that some leaders schemed to put themselves permanently in charge and then focused on empire-building as did the rest of the world. Incidentally the common cankerworm in our and their political systems is greed. Dressed up or rationalized overindulgence is destructive. So then any proposal for a greed-resistant yet productive political system must include a way of putting the opportunity for personal gain out of reach.
The EP approach does not allow for greed to have a place. Moreover, that system will rely on each person learning to be happy, which brings personal contentment. And because the Government’s two-fold raison d’être is to ensure the best all-round progress and the widest achievement of PoM/IP among the citizens, people will be successful in their efforts. Economic and territorial security for the people would no longer be trump cards by which politicians may promote their partisan agenda. Indeed, the EP system will demonstrate that: When we ensure the happiness of all, the safety of all is guaranteed. So let’s all get behind the EP solution to make it a reality, thereby making our country a great place to live.
It would be monumentally naïve to see this idea as a simple process to implement. No doubt we have international agreements and other legal obligations that bind us at present. All of these are likely to become difficult tasks to be tackled in relation to how best to fit them into the EP package to the EP theory. More work is required with respect to preventing self-interest groups from introducing and/or backing selected propositions and especially ensuring Big Business does not control or corrupt the process of electing proposals. Apart from these upfront matters, structures and protocols may need to be decided on for managing unforeseen international and foreign policy issues for which public input may be required.
To begin to embrace this proposed change however, we need new thinking: outside the box! The new thinking that EP theory requires is to switch from whatever way of thinking we’ve followed till now to seriously consider adopting EP. In anticipation of the proof of its practicality, each person needs to start with intentionally affirming: I want to learn to be happy and content.
That’s all a person has to do, for now; but this purpose-driven declaration will change everything for you because it is a first step. The next step is to confirm this desire with action. There is abundant scientific evidence showing that happiness and contentment produce lasting social adaptation and advancement. And this mental-emotional pillar of EP can be taught! The goal may also be stated as learning Peace of Mind or Inner Peace (PoM/IP). As the foundation of politics everywhere, decision-making at the highest level of governance is guaranteed to be reliable, productive and progressive without the current negative distractions characteristic of traditional party politics.
An unmistaken value of this transforming system is that PoM/IP changes people deeply and can result in a favourable transformation in many different situations other than politics. Just as it can turn a person’s mind or a country into a great place to live, equally so, it can make the whole world a great place for everyone. With peaceful intent, together we can achieve so much more than we do now with the status quo system of party politics! Such a life is far more preferable than living in a world in which party politics can allow corruption, manipulation, ideology and/or orchestrated populism to overrun and/or oppress by installing a dictator or oligarchy.
For influencers, major and minor philanthropists, professional experts and advisors, the challenge is to give enough consideration to the EP plan, undergirded by PoM/IP. Thereby right-thinking people will appreciate its powerful potential and recognize that its adoption, dissemination and implementation will remedy the current intrinsically defective political system. Electing Proposals is a win-win-win alternative process by means of which a new and more ethical climate and ways of behaving will pervade politics, business and democracy now and in the future. If this system is adopted worldwide, world peace can be guaranteed.