The Sorrows of a Disenchanted Voter

Exactly in a week time, new elections will be held here in Italy and I have to say that
maybe for the first time in my life I feel a kind of unwilling to perform my duty of
citizen going to vote. Almost I year ago I confessed all my doubts in a post
about the effectiveness of the democratic system of representation and still the same issue keeps troubling my mind. It is a fact that only on the occasion of elections we are really equal despite, census, education etc. : is this really one of the greatest modern conquests? In that post I asked Socrates’s help to make my point clear and particularly I liked a passage when he affirms that “ voting in an election is a skill rather than a random intuition. And like any other skill, it needs to be taught methodically to people. Letting citizens vote without an education is…. irresponsible“, only education may prove the best antidote to demagoguery (dēmos ‘the people’ + agōgos ‘leading).

However, what happens if those who do not possess that skill represent the majority of a country?  The percentage of those who have relapsed into illiteracy,
that is, those who may not completely understand meanings and concepts, is
increasing in any country and in Italy has reached the 80%, hence, who do you
think propaganda will be addressed to? Modern political speeches have lost their power of seduction, as their message doesn’t aim any longer at being thought-provoking , constructive, but rather, at being catchy, therefore: simple, short and quick. It must stick on you, avoiding the usage of reason if possible.

In my opinion, the most effective slogan I can remember belongs to Berlusconi’s era; as pioneer of Italian Private Television he was a champion of communication : “We won’t put our hands in the pockets of the Italians“. A simple image which doesn’t require to be decoded, as it is extremely effective but dangerous at the same time. In those few words the very first powerful message is that his party won’t levy taxes, which is ok, but the subtle one means that taxes are nothing but robbery, thus mining the faith in that system he would have ruled for almost 20 years ( a maybe more).

Propaganda addresses our fears – real or perceived -, impossible solutions, social envy. There is new-born party here, the so-called five-star party, which has based the entire political campaign on one word only: honesty. Effective and simple, isn’t it? However, 90% of the candidates who have been recruited are completely unexperienced in matters of political administration (and more). May I ask you a question? Would you still trust you doctor if he confessed you that he has never studied medicine, but, don’t worry : he is so honest. I guess you would immediately tear his prescription and find your way out as fast as possible. Well, you wouldn’t believe it , but it seems that one-fourth of the voters of this country is ready to rely on them only because they wave the flag of honesty. I can see Socrates turning in his grave.Rather than a political campaign we have been the witnesses here of a competition among those who rant the loudest and I fear that the winner we’ll be put in charge of the country with the consequences you may well imagine.

I have no other solution to offer than enhancing education, but I understand it is a slow process, very slow, considering the ways education policies are taking, that it seems to me more and more utopian day by day. Will I take to trouble to go to vote, then? I don’t know, yet. I’ve got a nice book to read.


36 thoughts on “The Sorrows of a Disenchanted Voter

    • Hmm . . . those are generalities . . . think specifics, like daily twits . . . er . . . tweets. I don’t think any other country has ever experienced anything even remotely like it. And, have you watched the speeches? I’m not referring to the content but the delivery. His method of speaking has no equal in any other world leader; never had, and my hope is that it never will.

      • I assure you, we know everything about his “twits” 😜and speeches. They are being dissected every day. However, one of those who is likely to be the next Prime Minister here, is a guy of 31, who has never had a real job in his entire life ( security at San Paolo football Stadium in Naples and webmaster). This is the Italian dream, from nobody to Prime Minister, an honest Prime Minister, by the way.

      • Trump’s never had a real job. But, then, neither did Clinton, Obama, Bush, the Kennedys (there’s an example that crime does in fact pay).

        The last election was the first time I didn’t bother to vote. For one, it didn’t matter. For another, after a while, it’s all a joke. It’s a bit of a catch-22 . . . voting has you participate in a farce. Not voting has you accept the farce is the way of the future.

        I didn’t make a specific comment regarding an informed population and the state of education not just here but in most places. That’s because I don’t have an answer.

        It would be easy to point out current trends in education (at least here in the US) seem to promote mediocrity and put less emphasis on understanding the social contract, understanding civic matters, laws, philosophy, different theories of governance. Everything one would need to make an informed choice.

        Then again, even as we learn how brains develop, we allow 18-year-olds to vote. Still, often, age doesn’t matter. I know 60-year-olds who don’t have a firm grasp on reality. Heck, for all I know, I may be one of them.

        I’ve debated people in favor of compulsory voting before (see below) . . . they seem to miss the point of the post. Also, suggesting one goes there and turn in an empty ballot seems, I don’t know, proving the point that compulsory voting doesn’t work?

      • Your doubts are my doubts, Emilio and I cannot see any way out. As I said before, education could do, but it is a slow process and as you well pointed out modern trends in education promote mediocrity worldwide. After all if this is what we have become, why our rulers should be any better?
        It seems George Clooney will be the next democratic canditate, he was a doctor after all! 😜

  1. Strange that our best advice comes from Socrates over 2000 years ago – but he is absolutely right. My sympathies from the land of Brexit, not that they are much use. As I’ve grown older I have come to the conclusion that intelligent people no longer go into politics, sadly. Plenty of clever ones do, and there’s the difference…

  2. Hard not to feel disenchanted, Stefy, with the anomalies that modern liberal democracy has thrown up in recent years. Maybe a lot to do with social media, those echo chambers where contrasting views are distorted and deadened, and with traditional media increasingly in the hands of a few obscenely rich concerns? Also perhaps with too many people feeling emboldened, liberated from they see as the shackles of political correctness and thus free to express old prejudices against the ‘other’ — liberals, Jews, women (! 50+% of the population!), immigrants, the LGBT community, intellectuals, blacks, snowflakes, anybody in fact who disagrees with their ‘commonsense’ views of personal entitlement.

    • Social media play their part in this game, but at least reality should make you think, that is, the difference between words and facts. An example: last night it snowed heavily in Rome, which is a rare event. Everybody knew it might happen and school are closed today. Well, the city is completely paralyzed, the roads haven’t been cleaned, no buses, we are entrapped, there is no emergency plan. The city administrators belong to that party with so many stars, which is likely to win the elections. 🌨🌨🌨

  3. Oh Stefy, it is as if you are reading my mind about the state of politics here in the US. You said a mouthful with the statement about political speeches “…avoiding the usage of reason if possible.”

    I firmly believe this is what got Trump elected…the lack of reason, and education, as well. So sad. But please do vote, we need every educated person on the planet to attempt to turn the tide!

  4. Oh please, please vote! I’m with curvyroads. If you care about your society you have to show up. Here in Aus voting is compulsory – at least, you get fined if you don’t turn up, though you can still put in a blank ballot paper or one with insults scrawled all over it.

  5. I know exactly what you mean – I spent the first fifty years of my life trying to get people to vote, and now, after the Brexit vote, I’m wondering what is the point? Education is indeed the answer, but people must be willing to be educated and more and more it seems as if they’d rather just believe whatever conspiracy theory or lie they read on Facebook or Twitter. I despair sometimes. As Churchill said “democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time…” I suppose all we can do is keep voting, keep hoping and keep trying to look past the catchy soundbites…

  6. I am sorry it seems there are people on here who have suggested that those in England who voted to Leave Europe are uneducated. Quite frankly how dare you, those that assume its all the old ones, those that have had little education voted to leave and did not understand fully what they were voting for. Well I live in England, and I voted to Leave Europe, and I understood. I resent the complete waste of money that we have had to pay, the ridiculous rules that we have had to adhere to, and all the immigrants and migrants we have had to take. If you choose to slur me with “Racist” then go ahead. I have had to watch my Country change not for the better and the prospect of a Communist loving Extreme Left Wing PM ie Corbyn is a frightening prospect. I always voted Labour until Tony Blair and he started to dismantle all that was good about the UK. We are obsessed with PC to the point of ludicrousy. There are dangerous Left Wing Loonies doing all they can to bully (Momentum) and force their way into power. This Country faces its biggest challenge yet and that is to ensure Corbyn and McDonnell booth still IRA supporters, do not get into Downing Street.

    Perhaps all the OLD ONES in this Country better get out at the time of the next Election and vote. Those votes will be legitimate just as they were for the great win of Brexit. The spoilt brats that voted to leave are like naughty children throwing their toys out of the pram because they did not get their way.

    One point on America and President Trump, those above who insulted all those that voted for President Trump suggesting that the voters were uneducated, perhaps they better take a look at all those that held powerful position, all those that had money, not just those that were working class and worried for their families future. As for Clooney running as the next Democrat for President, what exactly has he got going for him, except a loud mouth full of hypocrisy, and an educated wife. Now Clint Eastwood not only a very nice and clever man who has voted Republican, well he could stand and I daresay win, but he has no “celeb ambitions” like clooney. President Trump has done more in the year he has been in power than Obama done in eight too long years. Yes I dislike Obama intensely, in case you ask he insulted my Country, he has said he hates the “White Brits”, we are not Brits we are British. He intervened politically in the runup to the Vote of IN/OUT of Europe, none of his damn business we did not need or want his advice.

    Good luck with your vote, you should vote you may regret it if you don’t. Take care.

    • My Dear Anne, I have always thought that a united Europe was the greatest of achievements, a great dream, really. Of course, when there are many countries sitting around a table and decisions have to be taken it is very likely that their impact will be different and perceived as a profanation of the national identity, but, as in any relationship, you lose somenthing and you get something in return. This is how it works and you have to accept it to make it work.
      In my opinion, as I know and love your country dearly, you should have been the leaders of that dream, rather that leaving all in the hands of Germany. But rather you decided to sit at that table when you thought there might have been some advantage in it, bringing your own pottery and cutlery of course, to quit it when you didn’t like the main course.
      How do you think we may solve the problems of migrants/ immigrants if we do not co-operate? Will you be able to face the consequences of globalization all alone?
      Of course, time will tell us who is right.
      Best of luck. Stefy.

  7. I hope that you vote as by not casting a ballot you lay the road open to Fascists and Communists. Fascists and Communists are fanatics so their supporters wil, almost certainly turn out to vote. Its important that those on the moderate (centre left and centre right, together with liberals) do their democratic duty. I think that it was Churchill who remarked that “democracy is the worst possible system, apart from the alternatives”. He did, I believe have a point. More generally, I would rather have a politician who has a string of mistresses (but governs wisely) than a man (or woman) who is loyal to their spouse but possesses no idea how to govern a country. We are imperfect human beings so, inevitably our politicians will also be imperfect. Kevin

    • Italy is not a Puritan country and we do not care much about the sexual life of leaders ( this is the country of mucho men) unless that string of mistresses, I guess you refer to Berlusconi, ends up in Parliament or local administrations paid with public money. If this is the case, we do care. Furthemore, a leader cannot be under threat for his misbehaviour, and make his country and himself the object of ridicule. Being imperfect should never mean being stupid. Stefy.

      • I agree with you that corruption is wholly wrong. However if the lovers are not being paid for out of government funds and they are not interfering with the politician’s ability to do his job, then there is no issue so far as the electorate are concerned. I think you and I are in agreement on this. Best, Kevin

      • Oh, I don’t know . . . there is the matter of loyalty (mistress implies cheating on one’s spouse), willingness to lie (politicians usually try to keep that from the public and the press), self-serving dishonesty (if one is tired of one’s spouse, get a divorce, already; they usually don’t for selfish reasons), and all that goes along with someone who gives in to their impulses and thinks with their little head and the tremendous amount of self-control that implies.

        But yes, ability to do a good job . . . but now we get into what good job means.

        I suppose if being a politician means being disloyal, a liar, selfish, and dishonest with themselves and their constituents, then, well, yes, having a mistress (or paramour as the case may be) is a decent indicator of someone who might do a good job leading a country.

  8. seems we have some things in common across countries…

    and this line – was sooo good:

    “Propaganda addresses our fears – real or perceived -, impossible solutions, social envy. “

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