Australian Lefty on Politics, Governance, Science and Info Management

How to avoid the Perils of Pauline

Posted by Dave Bath on 2009-03-04

With the return of Pauline Hanson as a candidate in the upcoming Queensland elections, it’s time to point back at an earlier post that might have avoided this problem: "Ostracism: a return to democratic traditions" (2007-02-26).

Pauline Ostrakon

Pauline Ostrakon

6 Responses to “How to avoid the Perils of Pauline”

  1. I realise this is a ‘novelty’ post just to promote thought and discussion but isn’t it really, really obvious that throwing someone out who was unfashionable but hadn’t broken the law (eg, Pauline Hanson in 2009) would be a real insult to the foundations of any open liberal democracy. I think people who call for socialism are dangerous to human quality of life and dignity, not to mention civic unity, but as much as I’d like to eject them from the country (or even worse in my wilder fantasies) I don’t believe this is consistent with a civilised society.

  2. Dave Bath said

    If you read the earlier post I referred to, I wasn’t talking about chucking them out of the country but precluding them from any elected office (or ambassadorship or head of department) for n years. This was the “modernized” form. To quote (with bolding from the original article):

    A similar procedure, with the entire country as a single electorate, carried out at general and mid-term elections, with all members of both houses as candidates, using preferential counting, with the “winner” banned from any elected, judicial, ambassadorial or senior departmental position for a similar period, would serve Australia well, by officially quantifying public disquiet about individual policies.

    So, no, it wasn’t a “novelty” post, with some of the subtle side effects preventing implementation of policy that was wildly unpopular and wasn’t including in election platforms, as well as the abuses of powerful backroom operators by selecting party hacks for safe seats.

    Would the affected individual lose the protection of the state? Definitely not! Thus, my original post removes what appears to be your major objection.

    Would liberal democracy be improved by constraining the power of unelected backroom operators? I truly think so. Can you explain why liberal democracy would be harmed?

  3. Dave Bath said

    I’m making a clarification to the original post, second para, to disambiguate what Athenians DID do in the past, from what Australians MIGHT do in the future.

    So: “Every year citizens would cast” becomes “Every year Athenians cast”

  4. Jacques Chester said

    She only runs because she gets public funding, like clockwork, for beating the 4% threshold. A few weeks of pretending you care and presto, a few hundred grand bonus.

  5. Yep, Jacques, you are completely correct. However, this is still part of our democracy – it’s worth her while to run because people are still willing to vote for her because they see her as a better choice than the other candidates, or at least a suitable protest choice. Although I still believe a better situation would result from removing public funding to political candidates who are running for election (not the ones that are elected during their term) and making voting voluntary. She’d probably disappear under these conditions.

    Would liberal democracy be improved by constraining the power of unelected backroom operators? I truly think so. Can you explain why liberal democracy would be harmed?

    Because liberal democracy gains it’s strength and moral high ground by the fact that it empowers and protects everyone universally. In a liberal democracy I know no one can vote my life, liberty or property out of existence even if I’m an unpopular individual or minority, as these rights are beyond question and form the basis of the society to which I belong. Therefore I have no valid reason to oppose that society – for example, if I am religious then I should still support secular liberal democracy in contrast to some form of theocracy because secular liberal democracy gives me religious freedom and I know the ‘mob’ can never deny me my right to practice my religion even if my religion becomes unfashionable or unpopular so long as I continue to respect the rights of others. Similarly, if you allow the ‘mob’ to vote out someone’s right to free speech on political matters, or to voluntary association with people who feel the same way they do, or to non-violent protest, through preventing them from exercising the full suite of rights under a liberal democracy such as running for public office, or requesting a public official consider their views, then you undermine the strength of that liberal democracy and give that person an arguably valid reason to resist the society they belong to by manipulative, underhand or even violent means. Especially if they’re still expected to pay taxes to fund the government that oppresses them and denies them these rights. Furthermore, you would be naive to believe that these ‘unelected backroom operators’ exist by sheer chance or coincidence – they exist because they represent the views of a substantial minority. So something like a yearly vote on who’s rights are going to be destroyed will alienate one of those minorities, destroy social cohesion in a big way, and wreck the basis by which people can commit to the values of the society they belong to.

  6. […] Besides, I’d just love the chance to participate in an ostracism election (see here and here).  Those folk were into participatory democracy – something we desperately need these […]

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