Or “Stay The Course?”
There is an old joke about a man, who asks a stranger the way to Edinburgh, to which the stranger replies: “If I were going there, I wouldn’t start from here.”
Today, if I were deciding where this country should go, I wouldn’t want to start from where we are. Here is not where I want us to be. But here is where we are and where we must start from. Wherever we decide to go, we have to start from where we are. The important question is: Is where we are today where we want to be? The answer clearly is, yes and no. In other words, some people do want to be where we are; they will want to stay the course. Others do not want to be where we are; they will want to go in a different direction.
So the decision is: Do we continue going where we are going or do we change direction? To make a wise decision, we will need to know where we are now, and know where we want to be. I wonder how many of the voting public in America know the answers. We live in a democracy; deciding where to go is decided by the majority of the people. Herein lies the problem; pleasing everyone. In American democracy, we never please everyone. The majority wins; the minority loses. Both the majority and minority in a democracy make decisions based on common biases.
Knowing where you are presents a problem.
If where you are is good for you but not for others, or is bad for you but good for others, you are likely to employ two kinds of cognitive biases. Personally congenial biases: confirmation bias, self-serving bias, expectancy bias, perceptual bias. Socially congenial biases:bandwagon bias, in-group bias, group think and tribalism. This is a potential problem for everyone.
Knowing where you want to be presents a problem.
Where you want to be involves the future. Therefore, you have to imagine the future you want, and then decide how to create it. This is a two-step decision making process. The first step requires an unbiased imagination. This first step is a potential problem for everyone because of the same self-serving biases.
The second step is the bigger problem. Creating a positive future for everyone would be the most desirable future for everyone. But everyone includes the majority and the minority. With different points of view. This means everyone doesn’t rule; the minority doesn’t rule. A positive future for everyone probably won’t exist.
A democracy of the people, by the people, for the people should probably read: Of most of the people, by most of the people, for most of the people. By definition, democracy always has winners and losers. The majority and the minority. Everyone never wins.
Democracy is a device that insures we shall be governed no better than we deserve. George Bernard Shaw