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Mediocrity of leaders

Day 1,957, 19:04 Published in Ireland Ireland by Damhnaic

Dear beings (not only humans),

Yet another article by myself on a political philosophy subject. After the success on my first article in this domain of thought, I thought myself that another would be appreciated. This time, I chose to expose you Alexis de Tocqueville vision of how leaders in democracies were often mediocre. This ambitious theory will be explained bellow, with my own thoughts on how to avoid such consequences in our political system.

Alexis-Henri-Charles Clérel, vicomte de Tocqueville (1805-1859)

In his book De la démocratie en Amérique (On Democracy in America), Tocqueville exposes his vision of the newly born democracy in United-States while France is under a restored monarchy after the Napoleonic Wars. Tocqueville, an aristocrat from France, decides to tour North America and write a book on his observations and theories in a somewhat well established democratic system with “universal” suffrage (which excludes women and ethnicities).

In the fifth chapter of the first tome of his book (which strangely is chapter XIII in the English edition I found for the sake of this article), Du governement de la démocratie (Of the government of democracy), he briefly exposes his views on the choices of the people and instincts of the American democracy in its choices. The following few pages describe how, to his eyes, democracy leads to the choice of mediocre leaders. There are three main reasons that I’ll try to vulgarize bellow.

According to him, even if the people sincerely want the best for the state, he surprisingly states: “On my arrival in the United States I was surprised to find so much distinguished talent among the subjects, and so little among the heads of the Government. […] the most able men in the United States are very rarely placed at the head of affairs; […]” Subsequently, he explains three reasons explaining this phenomenon:

Firstly, “Long and patient observation, joined to a multitude of different notions, is required to form a just estimate of the character of a single individual; and can it be supposed that the vulgar have the power of succeeding in an inquiry which misleads the penetration of genius itself? The people has neither the time nor the means which are essential to the prosecution of an investigation of this kind: its conclusions are hastily formed from a superficial inspection of the more prominent features of a question. ” In a few word, the people don’t have time to make thoughtful choices because he is occupied to work and do anything he must do to survive (in opposition to aristocrats who don’t have to work to live).

Secondly, he postulates that in the democratic society, people has a great taste for success, the feeling of envy comes with it. “Whatever transcends their own limits appears to be an obstacle to their desires, and there is no kind of superiority, however legitimate it may be, which is not irksome in their sight.” Thus, they have no desire to vote or choose better people then they are because they envy them and see them as obstacles or their own success. If it is he, that is elected, it won’t be me. In this way, the people they choose are often considered, or show themselves, as “candidates of the people”, as very ordinary people, so the voters identify themselves to the candidate and don’t see him/her as a threat. This could explain, in a way, the rising number of demagogues raised to power (in real life and in eRepublik).

In the United States the people is not disposed to hate the superior classes of society; but it is not very favorably inclined towards them, and it carefully excludes them from the exercise of authority. It does not entertain any dread of distinguished talents, but it is rarely captivated by them; and it awards its approbation very sparingly to such as have risen without the popular support.
(We must also remember that Tocqueville himself is an aristocrat)

Thirdly, those who are true to their values and are against populism and demagogy refuse to present themselves: “Whilst the natural propensities of democracy induce the people to reject the most distinguished citizens as its rulers, these individuals are no less apt to retire from a political career in which it is almost impossible to retain their independence, or to advance without degrading themselves.

As with my previous article, I think these reflections must be considered in our in game experience of politics. Who in my readers can’t think of someone very capable to run this country, but yet refuses to present themselves, or wouldn’t be elected.

Hopefully, this isn’t fixed. A few solutions or incitations can be made to improve our politicians or motivate our most capable citizen to go into power:

Firstly, each and every one of us must be attentive ; pay attention to the candidates, try to see through their messages of demagogy and populism and see their real ideas (if they have some). Sadly, sometime very good candidates play the game of demagogy only to be elected. The first solution to mediocrity in our political systems is to inform ourselves before voting, the first solution is to be responsible of our political sovereignty we are expressing by voting.

Secondly, try to encourage the participation of citizens in the government. The more the people can see how it works from inside, by participating to the state early in the eYouth, the more they will be interest to candidate themselves later. By getting them involved, we can assure a new generation of good politicians, but we must give them good habits, and not be expressively pessimist of cynic in such a way to discourage them. Also, the more the citizens are participating, the less errors can be made (one man can be wrong, when many people are working together, errors are less frequent.) also, good old citizens who don’t want to do much could still be involved by doing a small job but not having all the responsibilities they despite.

In short, we must both ourselves be better and more informed/enlightened voters (as it is our responsibility in the well being of our state as a democratic society), and we must also show our fellow citizens that involvement in politics can be done without having to be demagogic populists.


P.S. This is a general article about in game ePolitics and RL politics, no reference is made to any specific government or politician. If the shoe fits.

Previously published: Liberty of Discussion in Democracy (John-Stuart Mill), day 1955.



orangejuicemmm Day 1,957, 19:16

mmm waffles

ChewChewShoe Day 1,957, 20:11

Another great article. Good work Damhnaic, keep it up!

FRITZHILL Day 1,957, 20:27

wadafuk get popcorn

Bigmike727 Day 1,957, 21:23

This is a great article, very interesting opinion.

Releasethe Krakken
Releasethe Krakken Day 1,957, 23:47

I dont think leadership positions in this game poses such a big challenge that more players shouldnt be exposed to it. Always the same old faces though!

Releasethe Krakken
Releasethe Krakken Day 1,957, 23:52

And stop mocking dumsy its not his fault he is dumb. Reason is years and years of inbreeding.

Viktor Kurgan
Viktor Kurgan Day 1,958, 02:41

All american leaders regardless what party they belong are illuminati puppets.
"Democratic elections" are just an illusion to trick humaans they have a choice.
And not only american....

And when did you see a puppets being truly patriotic or intelligent...they have to be selfish and obeying morons.

I hate illuminati....those stingy bastards never refund me for that cheese cake....and i will have my revenge!

Viktor Kurgan
Viktor Kurgan Day 1,958, 02:47

When it comes to this be a CP only demands free time and wise delegation of duties.
And if you doubt that look what challenged humaans were CP in the past.

If they could do it everyone can.

Anyone who tells you it's soooo hard to be a CP is a full of crap and only trying to minimize competition...

Damhnaic Day 1,958, 07:47

I was not referring solely to CPs when I was talking of "leaders", i think every ministry/cabinet position can fit the description of Tocqueville.

MUFC992 Day 1,958, 03:23

No waffles no vote.
And you promised them!

Marinko Margarin
Marinko Margarin Day 1,958, 03:32

I saw that on IRC when he said there will be waffles 🙂

Damhnaic Day 1,958, 07:13

They've been there all along, look more closely.

Damhnaic Day 1,958, 07:14

hint: look at the very bottom.

Grainne Ni Mhaille
Grainne Ni Mhaille Day 1,958, 07:14

Are you sure you've checked all of your accounts?

Liam Tatlock
Liam Tatlock Day 1,958, 05:06

Thankfully no waffles, so I can comment. In real life, political leaders are rarely the ones best suited to the job, just with the best connections/financial backing to get elected. I've stuck to the rule that anyone who wants to be a politician should automatically be barred from being one. Of course, that would mean David Beckham would be PM.

Grainne Ni Mhaille
Grainne Ni Mhaille Day 1,958, 07:13

I am glad you included the non-humans. It'll expand your audience for sure.

Ian E CoIeman
Ian E CoIeman Day 1,958, 07:42

de Tocqueville definitely has a point. When I was younger I used to hate the fact that in Canada we don't directly elect our leader (the queen aside I'm talking about the prime minister). At this point in my life I actually appreciate the fact that our prime minister is only a "bi-product" of the voting process. Compare our system to the American system and you'll see why (one is a government the other is an episode of american idol).

Ultimately an element of democracy is extremely important though, as another check and balance. It allows us to pressure and shuffle our government without smothering it. The ultimate goal of a government should be the socialist interests of it's constituents, democracy still does that better than any other system. Democracy is a system that schedules regular peaceful revolutions.

In terms of eR... with such a small community I'm not sure that the reasoning of de Tocqueville works as well. Some months we have the great leaders, other months we have average ones. The pressures placed on real governments just aren't here to the same degree, so that a leader doesn't really have to "degrade" them self as they would in real life (maybe just a little).

Great article with a lot to think about.

Damhnaic Day 1,958, 07:51

Agreed that the pressure isn't the same, but I still think there is a distinguishable trace of it in our politics.

As for Canadian "democracy", first getting rid of the General Governor that can prorogue the parliament when the PM is angry would be great and simple (if we stop the queen fanboyism). And I think a proportional voting system would also improve the representativeness of the parliament.

Or abolish the state. : )

lancer450 Day 1,958, 18:47

Continuing on with Canadian "democracy", we should reform or abolish the Senate as well. Just felt like adding that bit. ; )

Shadowfang Day 1,958, 08:46

Fantastic article. Gave me a lot to think and reflect on. Enjoyed it all, especially the bit about the dislike of someone who the citizens perceive as higher.

Great work Damhnaic

mirek12345 Day 1,958, 08:50

I love how this article is just below an article called ''Leading the country'' in the media space on the front page xD

Winston Hope Smith
Winston Hope Smith Day 1,958, 09:57

Reminds me of this quote by my namesake...

"It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried." - Winston Churchill

Voted 😛

Grainne Ni Mhaille
Grainne Ni Mhaille Day 1,959, 05:50

Your namesake? Wut? I always call you "doubleyoo-aitch-smith" like the English bookshop 😛

Liam Tatlock
Liam Tatlock Day 1,959, 11:12

I call him Winnie after Winnie the Pooh.

Hitoyoshi Day 1,958, 12:46

Tocqueville \o/

Blue And Evil
Blue And Evil Day 1,958, 14:49

Speaking as a mediocre democratic leader, you raise a good point.

The Irish William Wallace
The Irish William Wallace Day 1,959, 01:36

Bra-f'ing-vo, great piece of writing right here! Look forward to reading the next!!

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