Democracy’s Missing Business Case

There are overall proponents and opponents to any system of social representation in national governance. I am not getting into that.

Over many years I have come across many arguments, all good ones, in support of voting. I also agree, if you are in a democratic environment, then you should vote to select a candidate for an office.

Here’s my drill-down on the problem as I see it.

  1. There are candidates for an office.
  2. The candidates have an agenda, a manifesto.
  3. They reach out and try to convince the people on why they are the right choice.
  4. On voting day, the people go out to their designated centers and submit a secret ballot. (Yes for their favorite Candidate)
  5. The ballot is counted and the winner declared.

We all know how this works. It’s wonderfully simple, but a nightmare to organize and maintain a high quality of vote.

Generally the voting is structured to allow for selecting one of the given candidates. I strongly believe that there should also be an abstain option (non-of-the-above). This option is a direct reflection on the confidence in the candidates.

Sometime ago in Pakistan, we had our Prime Minister walking into office with a 2/3 majority win. That’s like wow! Never heard of such land-slide wins. What no body bothered to mention that the voter turn out was the lowest ever. The opposition supporters had lost faith in their candidate, though strongly believed in their agenda, so did not show up on voting day.

Putting this in business perspective:

I am a stakeholder in a large organization which has interests across the industrial verticals. It is a huge organization. I am interested in hiring a president and vice president for this company. What I will do is:

  1. Set job description
  2. Set qualifications and pre-requisite experience
  3. Post the job opening on the job sites and set a apply before date
  4. Wait for resumes and filter them, short list them, send out invitations for interviews
  5. Maybe have multiple rounds of interviews and a test or two
  6. Finally, award the job to the “BEST” candidate

In case through this process, I do not feel that I’ve found an appropriate resource, I’ll put out a second round of ad(s) and go through the process till I find someone who is the absolute “BEST” resource for the position.

Now, if this was a daily run-o-the-mill organization, it’s totally understandable, we as stakeholders need to keep an eye on the ROI, profitability, growth of the organization, we’ll go through the due dilligence and detailed analysis of every person, verify the education, past employers, recommendations, achievments and skills.

This brings me to the missing use case in democracy.

Standard Business Case: Select only one of the candidates listed.

This assumes that I have some level of confidence in the capabilities and potential of all the candidates. What happens when I actually do not have that confidence. I feel that all the candidates put forward are actually not up to my expectations and the job’s expectations. What do I do then? Do I check all of them, which I’m not allowed to? Do I leave it blank, this is equivalent to me not showing up? Or do I tell the electorial board that, I came and deliberately am saying that all these candidates are not up to the mark?

So, the candidates will get disqualified for this round of “employment” if no-show-voters + abstain-count > 50% (just pulling a number).

In a situation when 40% of the voting population shows  up, and then the winner claims 2/3 majority, land-slide win. It is incorrect and improper implementation of equal representation.

Who is Responsible?

Today while walking to work I was thinking. What if there was a riot outside the building I work in. The area where I work in is not a business center of my city, rather it is amongst the high profile political centers. Therefore it is likely whenever the “people” decide to stage a demonstration, they target such areas.

Last time there was a “peaceful demonstration” here, the riot police was called out and without cause we — the non demonstrators — were treated to the riot control’s generosity … Tear Gas.

Now you know the background I am talking about.

So, I was thinking, I’ve parked my car away from the roads, and is protected behind a shed (plastic sheets, and corrugated cardboard panels). If there is a damage to my car, who should I send the repair bill to? Should the government be responsible for protection of my property? Should the Police be responsible? Should the opposition be held responsible? Should the rioters … oops … I mean “peaceful demonstrators” be held responsible?

Then in my imagination (it is kinda creative) I send the bill to the government. My logic being, the riot control is there to control the riot and put all involved in jail. The opposition has a “ligitimate justification” for not being the responsible ones — “What can we do, we’re not in power” — that leaves the rioters themselves. I crossed the rioters out because fools will be fools will be fools. At this point I was only left with one choice. The Government.

My reasoning for sending them the damages bill are:

  1. Every month, an amount is deducted from my salary in the name of progress, facilities and Internal Revenue Service.
  2. This money I give to the government so I can have:
    1. Clean living environment
    2. Crime Prevention and Control
    3. Safety of my family and my person

That is why I am paying the government. I am not paying the government to build fancy offices, drive fancy cars, travel in embarrassingly large groups, talking sans intelligence.

What I want from my government, the opposition, the left overs is a peace of mind. I want to be assured that all criminals will be taken care of before the act. That means, I can leave the doors of my apartment wide open and I won’t have to worry about theft, I can leave my car anywhere and no one is going to damage it. Most of all, I can go to work assured that the government is actually doing all it can to make sure I don’t lose my job because of uncertainty and lack of confidence from my clients, I want to be able to work without worrying that the electricity will become more expensive, where my salary doesn’t increase. I want to be assured that when I leave my wife and children and go to work, nobody will hurt them, I want to be assured that the services and facilities that are provided to me meet some acceptable standard.

Which politician will give me that? which government will give me that? Am I assured that I will get a fair trial in any court in my country? Am I assured that the government is actually doing all that should be done to improve the standard of living of my people? Is it doing all it should be doing to improve the level of education, strengthening the industries, improving the health care programs.

Is there a party or an influential group of people out there who are capable of objectively convincing me that they are doing all of this.