We have survived another important election season. And there are state elections in major states in India. We have witnessed savvy politicians further propelling religious and cultural divisions and emetically theorizing how they will expand executive power to control our lives.
There is little room of optimism that situation will improve. The mythical informed voter is once again susceptible to alphabet soup mouthfuls from politicians. Rivalrous sleaze and point-scoring continue to be the theme of elections.
After each election, voters find themselves under the same ineffective lot of the politico-bureaucratic lattice that they sought to replace by “power of democracy”. Their hopes that government action can positively impact markets and that living standards will improve are further dashed when it meets reality. The collective punt that voters take by voting for more government and market-interventionist policies of political parties clearly demonstrate that lessons have obviously not been learnt.
Not only politics, the most important part of trias politica – the Judiciary of India has fallen to the sanguinary charms of its own fervent idea of “culture” and “nationalism”. Judiciary in India has descended from a minority of Hegelians to a majority that propounds absolutism. Rationality and restraint are enthusiastically burnt at the altar of populism, ugly exihibitionary nationalism, and totalitarian ad libitum. The scary reality is that it is never impossible to not expect more of such insanity.
One fallacy of classical liberals / libertarians is the assumption that the behavior of a democratic system is based on “rational” self-interest. Self-interest drives groups of people to support or rescind support from a candidate of their choice, but is it rational? History suggests otherwise. Democracy works on the assumption of an “informed voter”. What makes a voter “informed”? What are the implications of ignorance or even misinformation? As social media allows reactionary elements to bequeath more and more info-ganda to “informed” voters – thus swaying “informed” voters to vote for venal politicians in power, democracy is deduced from the injunction of “rationality”. Any political group adhering to classical liberal ideals should reorient their political strategy to reflect this reality.
This class of “informed voters” can be spread over a political spectrum. It is possible, for instance, that a voter who believes in importance of “free speech” gets influenced by a passionate reaction that shades into an illiberal clamor for vengeance when his idea of “nationalism” and “culture” are debated and challenged. The average “informed” voter is too gentile to support any god of liberty that is different from his.
The paradigmatic use of “freebies” to appeal to “informed voters” contradicts the assumption that the assumed “informed voter” was rational to begin with, validated by reality wherein politicians promising most “freebies” getting huge chunk of votes from “informed voters”. It is puzzling that why the “informed voter” has this rivalrous affinity towards “freebies”. Rationality would suggest that nothing is free – it must be produced by someone, somewhere. Moreover the pattern that further decimates assumption of “rational voter” is that this voter never contests reality and hard facts. Is it that “informed voter” only fascinated by wooden language of politicians? The pathologies of assumption of “informed voter” lay bare in patterns of realpolitik. Voters routinely voting self-aggrandizing politicians impressed by the creative corral of “freebies” that politicians promised. Further, most of these promises are never fulfilled – most projects and “schemes” undone, and ostensible “freebies” never delivered. Is it that voters have a sympathetic knowledge of Parkinson’s law or is it that with each election season, the quintessential “informed voter” wears a non-judgmental consideration for more novel propositions of “freebies” from same politicians?
How can this susceptibility of a supposed “rational voter” to the lucre of “freebies” be explained? It is not necessary to agree with the exegetical interpretations of political pundits, but the catchphrase of “rational and informed voter” is presumptuous.
While democracy gives a cause for pessimism, one can still hope that same self-interest that drives voters to vote for extravagant promises of socialist politicians will one day force “informed voter” to wake up to reality that “more government” and “more regulations” is not the answer to ills that ail our economy and society. It is liberty.
In India, the government is literally and figuratively everywhere. It has become the hydra-headed monster that seeks to regulate every human action. The totalitarian state of India now issues diktats on what its disposable subjects can eat, how they should interpret history and what they can do online. The tectonic socialism of Indian state allows for government to adopt further self-aggrandizing idealism.
The average voter has little understanding of how markets work and seeks “protection” from government. He believes that we cannot regulate our actions ourselves and that government should regulate it for us. It is this irrational fear that allows state to grow and eke out an existence. The never-ending expansion of government has not solved any problem and it never will; On the other hand, it allows state to inconspicuously expand its empire and further its control over lives of citizens.
In democracies, irrationality is fraternal. It naturally follows from above, that social strata of “rational voters” is not homogenous. The average voter can be easily swayed by his own irrational exuberance. There is little hope that a sub-group of voters will vote rationally if a politician promises them special treatment, if that. To ask electorate and citizens to bear the consequences of such irrationality of a sub-group is immoral. Further, it follows, that only “manageable” solution to this “side-effect” of democracy is to severely limit the power of state to intervene in social and economic sphere of nation and its citizens.
The adage of “minimum government” gets trotted out once a month in contemporary political discourse but any demand of state restraint causes collective cyanosis of ruling elites of Indian political class. Actions of politicians should demonstrate that they are willing to walk the talk. It is unto us, the citizens of India, to demand a minimum government, a government so small small that it’s hardly visible, as Rand Paul put it.
Totalitarian state of India is accelerating towards self-destruction. More’s the pity.