Charles Bukowski wrote a great short story explaining why he doesn’t write about politics. In the story, he noted that:
the difference between a Democracy and a Dictatorship is that in a Democracy you vote first and take orders later; in a Dictatorship you don’t have to waste your time voting.
Robin Hanson has suggested that people prefer voting for their rulers, in part, because it’s higher status:
I’ve been saying for years that people prefer democracy mainly because they think it raises their social status – being ruled by a king makes you lower status relative to people who “rule themselves.” We can’t quite fool ourselves into thinking a king is just a “steward”, but we apparently can think we really rule because we elect our rulers.
In this country, I don’t think we are really even ruled by the people we elect. Sure, the President and congress do have some power. I believe that we are better off with Obama than we would have been with McCain. However, I think for the most part these people are figureheads. Or maybe puppets is a better metaphor. They do have some power, but they’re not really the ones calling the shots. The people who write policy, the people who have real influence, the people who help decide who can get elected, they’re not voted on. We didn’t vote to have Pharmaceutical companies shape the prescription drug program. We didn’t vote to give AIPAC power. We didn’t vote to give Sandy Weill enough influence over congress to repeal Glass-Steagall.
Do we even want direct democracy? It appears to me that we are okay with being ruled, as long as we call it Democracy.
Bukowski also said:
are there good guys and bad guys? some that always lie, some that never lie? are there good governments and bad governments? no, there are only bad governments and worse governments.
He spends some time pointing out examples of how easily citizens of any country can become convinced that their country is killing for freedom, democracy and/or humanity (take your pick!). And you are probably thinking “but our country does only kill for those reasons.” And people in other countries think the same thing about their governments. In any case, the people we are killing are just like us, but we don’t see them that way. We see them as evil. The Iraqi’s were killing babies in incubators! They’re not like us! Or we see them as victims of their government. We defended South Vietnam by invading South Vietnam. The Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in self-defense. We invaded Panama because Noriega wanted to get our kids high on drugs, instead of high on life. And so on through a million excuses that should be transparent. But if there is one industry that is more advanced than any other, it’s P.R.