Extreme Democracy

Last week the British government announced that it was naming their new scientific research ship the RSS Sir David Attenborough, acting counter to the  people’s selection of “Boaty McBoatface,” despite that name being an overwhelming 3:1 favorite over the next closest choice.

Last summer the Parisian government took down the website for choosing the Eiffel Tower’s next paint job when it became obvious that pink was the runaway winner.

Who decided that letting the people cast binding votes on important issues was a good idea? Would any sane business owner run his or her company that way?

We misuse the term democracy to mean any type of government where the people have regular input into their representation. That’s wrong. A monarchy is rule by one (mono). An oligarchy is rule by a few. A theocracy is rule by religion. A democracy is rule by the majority. In any given US voting group, 49.99% of the voters have little or no say if they lose.

Our pledge of Allegiance says “…and to the republic for which it stands.” The Founding Fathers never anticipated a two-party oligopoly on government. They thought there would be multiple different interests represented in the legislature. Voting rights were initially left to the states, all of which required ownership of property, a stake in the system, to vote. (Contrary to popular belief, a number of states permitted women and people of color to vote, as long as they owned property.)

your vote countsA recent video by two female sportscaster details the unforgivable email assaults they receive on the Internet. They are threatened with rape, beatings and murder on a daily basis.  Yet the perpetrators are allowed to decide qualification for the most powerful position on earth.

How would your company fare if every decision was put to an employee vote?

“We have the opportunity to take on a huge customer. It means we are all going to work much harder. All those in favor?”

“Times are tough. We need to cut back on staff. Please decide who gets laid off.”

“I have an excellent offer to purchase the business. A show of hands, please, to determine whether or not I will accept it.”

Crazy, right? Your employees often can’t understand the bigger picture. They don’t see the implications down the road, even if you try to explain the eventual upside of a decision. They don’t share the responsibility that comes with making hard or critical decisions.

Yet, like the email harassers, we’ve decided that voters don’t have to evidence any responsibility for their actions. They can exercise their franchise, and then expect others to deal with the consequences of their decisions.

“In a democracy, people get the government they deserve.” Joseph de Maistre

‘Real  liberty is neither found in despotism or the extremes of democracy, but in moderate governments.” Alexander Hamilton

If this post inspires you to call me names or impugn my character, please don’t bother. I screen comments (there’s no universal right to mouth off here!) If you agree or disagree, and can do so civilly, feel free to contribute your opinion.

Please share Awake at 2 o’clock with other business owners.

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4 Responses to Extreme Democracy

  1. Great post. Furthering this conversation, I highly recommended Dan Kennedys book: No B.S. Ruthless Management of People & Profits…..a word of warning you will need some thick skin, some honest self evaluation, and Clarity to really appreciate the valuable lessons taught in this book.

  2. David Basri says:

    Here, here! (with respect to our British forebearers).

  3. Martin Frey says:

    Well said. True freedom comes when we are obedient and submit to something greater than ourselves. Human are funny animal in search of transcendental joy yet they typically look for it in “things” and fleeting pleasures.

  4. Chris Christianson says:

    Very well said. Not all are qualified to lead and thus should be grateful to those that are!

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