My representative democracy metaphor

In a representative democracy we’re able to go vote on who’s gonna be deciding for us. That’s like,  if you went to the grocery store, and you were able to decide who’s gonna do the shopping for you, but you’re not allowed to walk in and make the purchases yourself. Even though it’s your money! Basically you’re given the choice between a guy in a plaid shirt who says he’s a good shopper, and some dude in a polka dot shirt who says he’s good at spotting items that are on sale.

So, you try to explain to them your family’s dietary needs. But the best you get out of them is a shrug. So you take a leap of faith,  and decide to hand over your wallet, with all your food budget for the week inside it, to the guy in the plaid shirt.

And, an hour later, the guy in the plaid shirt comes out with a shopping cart full of candy, soda pop, and sugary treats. You explain to him that someone in your family has diabetes and you ask him to go back in and follow your grocery list. But the only answer you get is: ” If you don’t like my choices, go ahead and choose somebody else to do your shopping for you!”

So a week goes by, and without any other alternatives, you end up going back to the only grocery store  available in your area. You think about it for a long time, and you decide to give your wallet, with all your food budget for the week, to the dude in the polka dot shirt. But this time, you make sure he sees the grocery list in your wallet.  All you get is a shrug. But you have hope. You’re hoping it’s an affirmative shrug.

And an hour later,  the dude with the polka dot shirt comes out with a shopping cart full of beer, bacon and beef jerky. You explain to him why that’s unacceptable, considering the dietary needs of your family. But you end with the same reply: “If you don’t like my choices, go ahead and choose somebody else to do your shopping for you!”

So you ask for the manager. He comes out wearing clothing with no distinctive pattern, pretending to be neutral.  You explain your situation, and ask if you could go in and do the shopping yourself, like they used to do in the olden days. To that, the manager replies: ” Sure, in ancient Greece people used to be able to walk into their grocery stores and do the shopping themselves. But that was a long time ago. Now-a-days, people are too lazy to care or get involved. So they eat whatever we decide they should eat. If you don’t like it, feel free to try and start your own grocery store. That is if you can get the required permits!” and with that, the manager walks off,  laughing.

So yeah! Basically,  I think we should all be out there, trying to start our own metaphorical grocery stores, where we’re able to decide how our money is spent. In ancient Greece, they used to have real democracies where all the citizens of one town would get together once a week, and vote, debate and legislate all through the day. Unlike us, they were able to vote for themselves on actual law projects. They didn’t have to decide on who’s gonna be doing the voting for them.

I think one day, eventually, a new modern  system of governance will arise. One that will actually give the electorate the option to speak for itself, instead of being required to put up with people pretending to be speaking on our behalf.

But maybe that’s just me. I could be wrong. I got a feeling that there’s also a lot of people out there that are completely happy to be consuming bacon, beer and sugary treats, week after week, without having any choice in the matter.


20 responses to “My representative democracy metaphor

  1. Bonne réflexion.
    Il serait facile de voter sur différents projets via l’internet de nos jours ce qui équivaudrait aux ancients Grecs (non ceux d’aujourd’hui )dans leur village. Ben

  2. I have high hopes that, eventually, we will be able to be much more directly involved with legislation and the general decision-making process. The biggest stumbling block right now is most certainly not technology, but fat-cat politians and a very real fear of change from the “people in charge”. But like everything else, change is inevitable (a good thing in this particular case). At some point, maybe in 10 years, or maybe in 100 years, the political system will likely have changed. But right now, I find it so very hard to get interested in politics because, as your post explains, my choices are more illusion than reality. Liberals, Conservatives, NDP, etc. I vote for a person that might get a seat, and who may or may not help me or my region down the road, and also for a political party that may or may not keep their promises, keep their noses clean, or whatever. Half of what goes on in Parliement we don’t really know about, or have a say, as individuals. You just sort of cross you fingers and hope your chosen party votes according to their platform and beliefs, but this is not nearly “representative” enough for my tastes. Also, since the power is more or less concentrated within a small elite group, the effects of corruption and incompetence are multiplied by an order of magnitude. It’s a system that serves the political caste, and that’s about it. It’s still unfortunately all about the rich and powerful. The average man (or woman) plods along, hoping to get thrown a bone once in a while by our well-dressed masters…

  3. Whats wrong with beer and Bacon? But in all seriousness i think that the current system is mostly benificial to either: people of more considerable wealth because they have more direct influence on legislation, and people that are dependant upon social services and government establishment because whenever a government project is inplemented it is the impact on this social class that is the most considered and from which the most feedback is drawn. The middle class therefore has less say in the matter. A more direct aproach to elections and legislations would be benificial to the middle class, but there could never be a complete removal of the reprasentative system because once the legislations are voted on it takes someone to impliment the project and to sift through the multiple counter-proposals that are likely to arise from opposing parties.

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