Republics are to keep the masses at bay, not to include them…

The purpose of governance …

The purpose of taking over government is to control its spoils.  The tricky part is to keep the barbarians from knocking down the gates, an act that may result from the perception that those who have captured government will not allocate an equitable portion of goods, resources, and capital i.e the spoils, to the masses.

The governing class in a republican form of government must then find a way to maximize the prestige and power it garners from taking over government while minimizing the amount of public capital allocated to appeasing the people it rules.  Resources are finite and the governing class can’t afford to have the instrument used for the day-to-day management of the citizenry and the channeling of power and prestige to the governing few to go bankrupt.

The issue then, for those who wish to take over government, is which approach to governance will bring about maximum prestige and power at the lowest cost of paying off the barbarian.  I recommend a political market approach based on transparency.

The market approach of American democracy …

American political governance is limited by the vote buying/selling transactions of the political market.  To garner the right to govern as an elected official, you have to win the vote.  What the candidate is willing to pay for this vote depends on her view of government’s role and her ability to convince the electorate to align its perception with her view.  She will not be transparent about her personal gains from winning office, preferring to tout the benefits that she can help shuttle to Americans as her rationale for running.  She will make the mistake of painting herself as selfless or altruistic.

All market transactions, including political market transactions, are two-sided. The voter/consumer seeks some type of economic relief via a government program, or some cultural win via a statute or regulation, and the elected official is willing to sell her a program in exchange for support in the form of donations, campaign volunteer time, or a vote.  All political parties participate in these transactions.  The voter/consumer must remain aware that these offerings are not being done for altruistic reasons.  They are being done out of the elected official/producer’s self-interest in garnering the power and prestige that comes with elected office.

The benefits of elected official/producer transparency …

When sitting across from the person you are negotiating with, you want as much transparency as possible as to their interests.  Knowing the real value they place on an item they intend to buy from or sell to you helps you to better price your offer.  As an elected official/producer, being transparent with the voter/consumer has three immediate benefits.

First, if the candidate for an office is upfront about their self-interest in running, they can avoid or mitigate the consequences that come from a lack of clarity.  The voter cannot come back and claim that the then candidate now elected official was anything but honest, a virtue many Americans claim to adhere to.

Second, if the candidate is transparent as to their self-interest, she creates a channel within which she can gauge the reasonableness of the voter’s demands.  In other words, the voter has a better understanding of the value of his vote for the candidate and can adjust his demands accordingly.  There will be fewer surprises as to the cost the candidate has to pay in order to secure a continuous flow of power and prestige.  She has a better idea not only of the voter costs for garnering her power and prestige, but can now explore a wider array of options for meeting voter needs at the lowest costs possible.

Another benefit of transparency is that by establishing up front her desire to garner and maximize power and prestige, the candidate will be viewed as transparent going forward during other transactions.  This creation of “good will” can only create for the elected official more opportunities to increase the political capital necessary for deploying the cost effective programs that she can exchange in the future for more votes.

It won’t be the programs that keep the barbarians from knocking down the gates.  It will be the transparency and the perception of honesty that flows that will keep the masses at bay.

Conclusion: Republicans can be transparent without being ogres….

Strength flows from transparency.  Republicans should not be afraid to tell the electorate, “I seek the power and prestige of the office because of the benefits (emotional, psychological, financial) that will flow to me, but I acknowledge those benefits won’t flow to me unless I meet your needs.”

America is a republic and as such, its political power is held by the people and its elected representatives.  What the definition does not tell you is that both groups do not, cannot, and should not rule equally.  What too many choose to describe as “American democracy” is a system that is not based on mass rule, but based purposefully on minority rule.  Because American democracy is in fact based on minority rule (one only need look at the discarding of the popular vote after the November 2016 general election), Republicans especially should take the lead in transparency in governing.  Transparency has a chilling effect on political tension and can only serve to secure Republican political power going forward.

 

Author: Alton Drew

I graduated from The Florida State University with a Bachelor of Science in economics and political science (1984); a Master of Public Administration (1993); and a Juris Doctor (1999). I am a member of the Maryland Bar and practice political law. You can follow me on Twitter @altondrew. You can email me at altondrew@altondrew.com.

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