Sunday, May 15, 2016

The rise of Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders and Jeremy Corbyn - Does it really mean people are dissatisfied?

The recent rise of 'outsider' politicians with radically different agendas to what we're used to has raised discussions in many quarters as to whether people have become very dissatisfied with the world we are living in.

I think the answer is 'yes'. People feel like their politicians are not reflecting their beliefs, that their democracy is 'broken', and that they don't have the true freedom to be who they want to be in life. They feel like the ability to get ahead in life is no longer there. People everywhere are feeling this, from twenty-somethings in quarter life crises to older adults who have been made redundant and yet cannot afford retirement. They also feel like the decisions about our future is not being made by them, that they are not being listened to by the political class. In other words, representative democracy has become unrepresentative.

Whilst I can understand why people are looking to the likes of Trump, Sanders and Corbyn, I also believe that they are not the answer. Not that any politician is, anyway.

I believe we need to fix our system, badly. For example, there should be more emphasis on liberty, and politicians on all sides should be focussing on the concept of liberty and 'living together' in a liberal society. Representative democracy should also be supplemented by an increased use of direct democracy in the form of regular plebiscites or referrenda, in my opinion. A decisive victory for climate action at the ballot box will stop any further protesting from corporate interests, for example.

Furthermore, it's dangerous to look to our politicians to solve everything. We need to remember that not everything needs to be done by the government, and that non-governmental solutions are often better. Inspiring people, lifting people up from a feeling of helplessness, is a collective responsibility, for example. Governments cannot do that. Speaking up against those forces which are making people feel oppressed, which is clearly not limited to our governments, is also a collective responsibility. Only broad-based discussion and consensus in society will push those forces back. Finally, changing the culture so that 'outsiders' are not excluded anymore, including but not limited to combating racism, sexism, homophobia and disability discrimination, is something we all need to do, together.