Monday, April 24, 2006

-Cracy and -crat as endings mean "This is who has the power."

What comes before specifies who the power havers are.

Democracy means the demos have the power.

Demos, a Greek word, can be translated as the people or as the mob.

During an election campaign or any campaign to try to get a bunch of people to have a certain opinion, there is a huge temptation to try to get the people to arrive at the desired opinion by getting them very emotional--by moving them in the direction of being a mob. People are supposed to watch attack ads and go, "Yeah, yeah, that person is awful" in a mob-like tone. "Yeah, yeah, this person is totally, evilly wrong on this hugely important problem."

Someone who wins and gets power by making people react something like a mob doesn't always like the results.

The winner is trying to govern, and the people still have all these emotions--emotions about how real a problem is, how important it is, how extreme should be the measures to fix it.

The winner can't say in public, "No, you should not be shallow and negative like that anymore. I won. Now let that extreme view of the problem go. Realize that this isn't even that big a problem--it just worked to push you buttons. Let me deal with what the real problems are."

The winner can't say that in public, so the winner has to deal with the mob created to win.

This doesn't make for the smartest governance.

There's a Chinese saying that the best of all things to do is educate the people. Teach them accurate things, and how to find accurate things and how to know which accurate things matter.

One way to avoid the temptation to try to manipulate people emotionally to get them to agree with one's own dear self is to focus not on campaigns of two or three months or a year, but to really sit back and think what people need to know in a big way and how to help them learn it. To start the plan with the people's need, not a short campaign's end goal.

If you really educate the people, they are people. Individuals who know and think and talk to each other, and can be powerful intelligently. Democracy.