Demystifying Politics in Democracy

Democracies are governance by the people, presumably for the people. They are also supposedly ‘of the people’ because to govern themselves, people elect some individuals out of themselves to represent them in government.

People elect representatives based upon their personal opinions and motivations, both of which are subjective. Voting someone to office is an emotional response of people.

While people carry on with their lives working as wagers or professionals or businesspersons, some choose to take up politics as their livelihood and put themselves up for being elected to office by the people.  Most democracies are federal structures, meaning thereby that there exist multiple tiers of governments. An individual citizen thus has a Member of Parliament, a Member of Legislative Assembly, and a member of Municipality or a Gram Panchayat to represent him at these tiers of Government. Then, people also elect representatives to self-help groups like worker-unions, student unions, charities, social groups, clubs, welfare groups, cooperative societies, religious bodies, and so on. Politicians have the choices of being elected to any of these tiers in the government as well as to these self-help groups. People get the opportunities to elect their representatives every five years or sooner.

Since the governance is itself a collective of the majority of the elected individuals, politicians are categorised into affiliate groups – chosen to govern or rejected to govern – for the time being. Depending upon the pro-incumbency voting or anti-incumbency voting by people, in the next round of elections, the politicians are able to keep or reverse the nature of their affiliate category.

Accordingly, the predominant policy of the politician from the group ‘chosen to govern’ is to garner pro-incumbent public opinion and inoculate the minds of people to protect them from any counter attacks of the politician from the group ‘rejected to govern.’ They trumpet their achievements and promises through events and seek amplification of their narrative through the media and press.

The predominant policy of the politician from the group ‘rejected to govern’ is to garner enough anti-incumbent public opinion before the next election, which would result into the incumbents being voted out and the group ‘rejected to govern’ would emerge as the group ‘chosen to govern’ after those elections.

Building up of anti-incumbent public opinion is achieved through developing a passive resistance to the policies of the group ‘chosen to govern’ and this requires continuing demonstration of active-resistance by the politicians from the group ‘rejected to govern’ to the policies and actions of the incumbents. Strikes, shutdowns, slowdowns, sit-ins, sloganeering are some of the tools used in such demonstrations. Resulting events create content for the media and the group ‘rejected to govern’ seeks amplification of their events and their narrative through the media.

Both the groups, group ‘rejected to govern’ and group ‘chosen to govern’ also indulge in comparative narrative involving disparaging each other and seek the help of media in their efforts. 

The fact is that the role, purpose and importance of newspapers and news broadcasts, as reporters and chroniclers of facts, which could count as proof, has diminished. Editorials and the opinions of experts in any media, print or television, which are objective, fail to catch the attention of people.

For their entertainment value, acrimonious debates between the biased and ignorant politicians and purposive shows catch the eyeballs, but the theatrical capabilities of the performers in such shows leave false impressions in the minds of the audience. The slant of the anchors towards a particular narrative works as subliminal messaging in shaping the impressions.

Media is becoming a peddler of the narrative of the politician belonging to either the group ‘rejected to govern’ or the group ‘chosen to govern.’ Social media noise and claims do not count as proof yet they strike the emotions of people and shape public opinion.

Width, depth and sustainability of favourable public opinion is the measure of success in politics. Maximising the width, depth and sustainability of favourable public opinion is therefore the real goal of any politician. Narratives, public discourse, public policy, bureaucracy, media, political workers, safety, security, justice, growth, welfare, progress, nationalism, equality, secularism, affirmative action, patriotism, peace and rule of law are just the means in achieving of these political goals.

One can fault a politician for any of the means that they use, but none can fault them for their unwavering commitment to their goals.

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First published 04 May 2021

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Published by

Mukul Gupta

*Educator, researcher, author and a friendly contrarian* Professor@MDIGurgaon

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