Tag Archives: Principles

Democracy as a political objective

French Women's Suffrage poster

Democracy – a political end in itself.

In my last couple of posts, I’ve summed up what I think is a reasonably logical argument in favour of the politics of compromise, and limited expectations, at least when it applies to citizens who are dealing with political parties or politicians.

To add an important caveat, this is not the same thing as having limited expectations or a lack of radical political ambition. I would argue that it is the opposite.

I’ve argued that limiting our expectations when dealing politicians achieves a great deal more than standing on principle and being reluctant to compromise, and that people who may not be inclined to compromise (because they see themselves as being very principled) are actually being very self-defeating in doing so.

I can think of one very obvious objection to my position. It’s one that I’d call a political, rather than a democratic objection. Politically, there’s an obvious case to make: Other parties win elections and then impose their programmes on us. Why shouldn’t we?

It’s an argument for soft-pedaling your principles before an election and then implementing your programme in the hope that the voters will realise your wisdom, or that you will get away with it and avoid any kind of repeal (or worse, a backlash). Continue reading

Principled politics: a paradox

If you are voting out of principle, you may, paradoxically, find that you have a greater duty to be pragmatic.

Let’s imagine (for the sake of argument) that all voters only voted out of self-interest. If that were the case, the government they elect should end up offering a compromise package that does enough to offer the largest electoral minority (depending on the electoral system) the least-worst electoral option.

It should be a much bigger deal, though, if you say that your personal views are largely driven by altruism and you (and lots of other voters that share your views) believe that your votes are being cast in the interests of the less-fortunate-than-you. In that case, you also have quite a strong moral duty to accept something instead of nothing.

A lot more of a moral duty than the purely self-interested voter. Continue reading