Why Politics Is a Game of Perception and How to Make It Better

Politics  is a game of perception, where how you appear to the public creates more impact than who you really are.
(Image: via  pixabay  /  CC0 1.0)
Politics is a game of perception, where how you appear to the public creates more impact than who you really are. (Image: via pixabay / CC0 1.0)

For most of human history, the monarchy with a hereditary king and his ministers governing was the default structure of all nations. With an electoral system, the populace began to dictate who should be in power.

And this started the game of politics, where leaders tried to convince the masses that they must be voted into power and not their opposition. However, a big flaw of politics is that it is a game of perception, where how you appear to the public creates more impact than who you really are.

The problem with politics

The problem with politics and politicians was very well described by British Labour Party politician Tony Wright: “People perceive politicians to be playing a game in pursuit of political advantage rather than work earnestly to solve the issue of the day. The corrosive consequence of the game of politics is that everything that a politician says, or does, is treated with suspicion because of negative assumptions about why it is being said or done. Minimising the game-playing and aspiring to do politics in a more grown-up way would be good for politicians — as well as for us,” as quoted in The London School of Economic and Political Science blog.

When politicians promise something and do not deliver on their promises repeatedly, it is inevitable that people lose trust in the democratic process. While one group of people might feel an inherent loyalty to the politician or the party they support, another group of people will be disgusted with politics so much that they wouldn’t want anything to do with it.

Add to this the fact that people accused and convicted of immoral or illegal actions sometimes end up in power, and it should be understandable why people lose confidence in the ability of politics and democracy to transform society.

Changing the political system

Compared to the hereditary system of power of the past where people born in a specific lineage were given absolute control over everyone else in a society, the electoral system is definitely a more modern option. And rather than waste time blaming the system, it would benefit society far more if we change the political system, so that good, honest leaders can be brought into power.

And one way to promote good leaders is by ditching the majoritarian democratic systems, or majority rule that is currently popular, in favor of the republic form of government that the founding fathers of the United States had espoused.

A republic ensures that there is minimal governmental control over people, guaranteeing each and every citizen the freedom to do as they wish. This ensures that the people who are voted into power honor the individual freedoms guaranteed by the constitution. Democracy, being a majoritarian ideology, is prone to support the rise of leaders who peddle to the whims of the masses, increasing the chances of corrupt, dishonest people gaining power.

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When leaders focus on peddling to the whims of the masses, it increases the chances of corrupt, dishonest people gaining power. (Image: via pixabay / CC0 1.0)

Ancient wisdom

Almost all ancient successful civilizations were built on ideas that have similarities with the idea of the U.S. republic. For instance, ancient Chinese emperors followed the Tao, honoring its many rules that strictly instructed rulers to honor the individuality and freedom of the people.

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Almost all ancient successful civilizations were built on ideas that have similarities with the idea of the U.S. republic. (Image: via pixabay / CC0 1.0)

Tao Te Ching warns: “The more restrictions and prohibitions there are, the poorer the people will be.” At the same time, it also advised rulers: “If princes and kings could follow it [Tao], all things would by themselves abide, Heaven and Earth would unite, and sweet dew would fall. People would by themselves find harmony, without being commanded.”

The book clearly reveals a simple rule to good governance — only through following higher virtues, by people and the government, will the nation be peaceful and prosperous.

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