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Byron Shire
July 6, 2022

The Democratic Meritocracy

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Does the prospect of another federal election leave you completely underwhelmed? Will the next stage-managed seven-second media grab featuring a politician in hi-vis wielding a shovel send you grasping in desperation for the sedatives, or worse still, the gun locker?

Ask yourself when, if ever, you have felt that our political system has made you feel truly represented as a franchised voter. Nope, nope… nope.

Changing the politicians on the menu seems to only offer us choices between shades of grey. Surmising the words of the creators of Southpark, is the choice between a douche bag and a turd really a choice at all? Perhaps the time has come when we should be seriously examining the system that produces the politicians rather than the litany of mediocrities thus produced.

Divorce and taxes

Our Westminster democracy was largely conceived and designed in the mid 17th century as an expedient for the then King of England, Henry VIII to obtain himself a divorce and raise a few taxes. At the time heretics and witches were being enthusiastically burned at the stake. The adversarial nature of the system assumed that there was an invisible man in the sky who would keep track of what was proposed and come down on the side of the argument that had the greatest merit, and this would ensure the best possible outcomes. This is medieval thinking, which will usually produce medieval outcomes.

Isn’t it time we began to rethink some of these concepts? Perhaps what is needed is a change of perception. If politics is based on an argument, how much attention, time and energy is spent on undermining the opposing ideology rather than working towards a better outcome? We deserve better, but we will have to change the way we think about our system of government to achieve this.

Indulge me while I have a political fantasy: The Democratic Meritocracy.

Elections are the same, except for the head of state, but you are not running on behalf of any party, you are there to represent your constituents, and what we shall call ‘Team Australia’. When you make the team, you are also there to represent the whole country. Party politics must die and the argument taken out of the equation.

The main jobs are given out by a team committee. Membership of this group is determined by incumbency. If you have been re-elected you will have more weight, but incumbency is measured by the number of constituents as well as consecutive election wins, in order to avoid having people like Bob Katter or Barnaby Joyce who only represent a small portion of the population to run the show.

If you are a business representative you will put yourself forward as a business representative, if you are an educator, or a worker made good, or an economist, a doctor, or a diplomat, then that is what you are there to do/ who you will represent. There will of course be room for vigorous debate, but the focus would be on the outcome, not the argument.

The head of state is elected simultaneously with the government and any candidate can put themselves forward, and the head of state gains more incumbency. Apart from that it’s just a matter of let’s get on and do what’s best for the team.

Endlessly cynical as I may be about politics in general, I do have one more political fantasy to offer, as a panacea to the hopeful…

Can you imagine Mandy Nolan’s Maiden Speech in parliament?


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8 COMMENTS

  1. Sad to see you putting such a downer on our democracy and effectively being a mouthpiece for Palmer’s self serving rhetoric. People need encouragement to learn what political parties are really offering, and to vote thoughtfully.
    Our system might not be perfect, but so much better than much of the world. How are all these ‘independents’ going to develop and implement policies for the community of Australia? We’ll end up like Italy with perpetual infighting and elections that lead to even less cohesion. Not smart.

  2. A bit nervous about your views on democracy when mentioning “ going to the gun locker” . Fortunately we have very little gun violence in our politics except for the politics of those sovereign citizens and so called freedom fighters on the far right.
    Seems all fantasy with no real solutions. Is our system that bad compared to what you describe as an alternative.

    • Rod is still running on the “Divine Right of Kings” doctrine.
      Queen Victoria didn’t CC him her declaration putting all authority in the individual hands of the people in Australia.
      Let’s go disarm those civilians in Ukraine. Too much gun violence.

  3. I usually reach for the sedatives & team O.Z. gets a tick but this time’s
    a little different. Mandy’s speech? “Lets sack the B.S. looters & power
    junkies. First drink’s ‘on the house’ & that, gentlemen, is that.”

  4. “conceived and designed in the mid 17th century as an expedient for the then King of England, Henry VIII to obtain himself a divorce and raise a few taxes ‘

    Early 16th Century , actually .

    Close enough is good enough for the Echo !.

  5. This article shows a complete lack of understanding of the corruption that is stopping the existing system from working.
    The corruption wouldn’t even have to restructure much to fit your republic model.

    If the media tells people a candidate is an expert, they would believe it and vote them in.

    Your system requires a diligent, informed, moral and just population to work. If that was the nature of people, any system would work, even communism.

    Your system requires a mechanism for “Proof of merit” that can’t be rigged, which means it has to be tested by the Universe. For example, back when gold was money, you couldn’t pretend your leadership was bringing prosperity by printing a bunch of cash and handing it out while hiding the inflation as has been happening. The rulers had to make something physical actually happen in the real world and it had to provide actual wealth, not just value.

    You also have to deal with the subjectivity of the quantitative property of merit. You don’t know that the incumbent has the greatest merit because all candidates would have to be given identical countries to run to see how they do then choose who should have been voted for after their careers ended.

    I would suggest reading some Machiavelli to get the flavour of the problems. Athens tried everything from communism to direct democracy, the results are depressing reading.

    Also keep in mind there is a difference between the appearance of good and actual good. People are only happy when everything looks ok, doing the objectively correct action usually looks really bad to the population because they aren’t educated in geopolitics, history, economics, etc. That is why we are about to have a selection for which puppet is going to colour the actions that would have been taken anyway. Makes the peasants happy to think they have some influence even if “their guy” is not “in charge”. When they figure it out, you get riotous protests in your capitals as we saw over mandates, and in 2019, all around the world. They don’t exactly know why they are angry, they just know somethings really wrong. It’s actually the rulers moving to fast allowing the peasants to catch a glimpse behind the curtain to notice how things have always worked. Very sloppy.

    Also, don’t fall into this idea to track and trace every human action to make sure they do what they are told. This is just a rehash of “God is always watching you”. There are always an increasing number of people exempted until the system becomes corrupt and falls apart.

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