Every four year, Norwegian citizens elect a new Norwegian government, although we statistically end up electing the same more often than we elect a new one. Every time, there are massive election campaigns, similar to the campaigns we see in other democracies around the world, with parties touring the country and bashing other parties, debating each other and occasionally trying to bribe voters. So are elections truly a representation of the people, or is the government hijacked by PR agencies?
In an actual democracy, people should at least be aware of what they think about an issue for the entirety of the four years the government sits. If a new political issue comes up now, right after the election, you have an entire four years to get your facts straight. Use that chance, or your vote will be hijacked by people who will not give you time to even think if their argument hold or not.
In addition to having a well thought out opinion, you also have the possibility and right to influence politicians directly by writing them. If you found a documentable flaw in an argument, make sure it gets documented and well known.
It gets ugly. My first idea was to start up an NGO that keeps track of party karma. Every time a party presents something negative about another party, karma goes down. If they advertise their own programme, karma goes up. If they lie, karma goes down.
Better yet, this should go into legislation. To protect democracy, parties should not be allowed to slander each other. Three strikes and you're out of politics. Three out of the party, and the party is out of the election. Campaign about your own platform, not about how ridiculous you think other people's platforms are.
One of the parties in the winning coalition of last week's election in Norway defended their platform with arguments that didn't hold up to fact checks or even logic check. Somehow, they were exempted from media scrutiny. I want to bring forth an abstraction of at least two issues known to me:
1) Moving the threshold the wrong way
A group of people A get divided into group B and group C. As it turns out, a very unpopular group D is made up ONLY of people from group B and E. Group C, on the other hand, are just fine. So to reduce the number of people in group D, they want to move the division threshold, so that more people from group A go into group B and fewer into group C, thus increasing the number of people who will end up in group D.
2) Restricting the wrong group
Two groups of people are under different legislation. There are great restrictions on who can apply to be part of group A, and you have no rights to benefit C. Due to international agreements, it is very easy to get into group B, where you do get and abuse benefit C. In order to reduce the abuse of benefit C, they wish to put heavier restrictions on people who want to join group A. To be able to hide that this is a flawed argument, they lied about group A's rights to benefit C. A fact check would have revealed this.
Even in a political climate where parties DO criticize each other, there was never a protest against this flawed logic. Even the state run "politically neutral" national TV station NRK did not confront or reveal the party about their lie in example 2.
New rule about politics: Three lies and you're out!
...and every year, we hear some parties saying that they "lost" and will look into what they did wrong in this campaign, while other parties cheer and celebrate that they won over the other parties. However, parties are not supposed to win a democratic election. The people are. And the people win the election only if the parliament accurately represents the diverse opinions of the people.
I am looking forward to the day when all elected representatives celebrate that "yes, we have put together a good representation of the population, and are happy to work with each other."
After the election is over and coalitions are formed, parties negotiate about core issues and ministers. Since ministers carry the power to implement politics, the resulting politics will come from these negotiations. This means that if everyone who elected party A did so because of issue B, are at risk of getting party C take that post, and party A gets post D instead, even though that's the one topic where the voters disagreed with party A.
Therefore, it would be more appropriate if we could elect which party each minister should come from. During the election, I could elect one party for minister of environmental protection, and another party for minister of education, because that would more accurately represent what I think in a holistic manner.
So here's the action plan:
- Make use of all four years to find out what you mean in every political issue. Do it systematically.
- Write to politicians about your findings. Get heard.
- Document and publicize lies and flaws of logic.
- Fact check the arguments.
- During elections, parties should advertise their programmes, not what they think of other parties' programmes.
- Campaign rule: Trash opposing party three times, and you're out of politics. A party losing three candidates this way, and the party is out of the election.
- At any time: Three lies and you're out of politics.
- Celebrate everyone who got elected, not just your own coalition. You are all there to represent the people.
- Allow people vote on which party should take which ministry post for "holistic voting"
So who wants to fund my politically independent political think tank?