Since 2017, one of the most powerful political positions in the world is occupied by a person who created a shock when he was a elected and it is a very common perception in the western world that he behavior is increasingly dangerous for millions and millions of people. This is not a statement, this is just a fact. However, another fact is that in the territory of the superpower that he is leading, more and more people, since the early days of his presidency, were saying “sorry about our president”, in a symbolic address to the rest of the world. Worrying news, this is not enough!
Very soon, within a year, a new election will happen through a daedalic electoral system which doesn’t seem at all to a direct democratic process, in order to elect the president of the USA for the following 4 years. Despite the apparent unpopularity of the current leader, there are still chances that he might be reelected to his position. Therefore, something is fundamentally wrong with the political behavior of those who control the outcome of this election. How it can be corrected? Is it soon or late? Fighting him as a person is enough?
I’m really impressed by the targeted political debate during the time before the election. The traditional bipartisanship of the American democracy is being converted to a dilemma, a question “him or not him”. It’s not my personal impression, there is even a slogan, promoted by the opposite Democratic Party, saying “blue no matter who”, declaring the necessity to replace this person who is holding such a crucial political seat.
Furthermore, there is a constant question within the American society (and in an extension all over the globe), without a clear answer yet: “how did we end up like this?”
In the following lines I’ll try to draw a scheme and explain through a very simple logical process, how things are happening, how things are understood and discussed and how things should be changed. There are three steps on this: understanding the outcome of an election, understanding the actual strategy for winning an election and understanding those two as a result of the ideological battle within the society, not as the reason. The conclusion is a suggestion of a different approach about winning the ideological battle and consequently any election.
1. Who wins the election
In our logical process I will initially introduce some theoretical features. The first is the characterization of a policy. This can be located in a spectrum from absolute humanity to absolute monstrosity, with a dividing line in the edge between them. The second is the candidates, a blue candidate, positioned on the left side of the figure and a red candidate, positioned always on its right side. The colors are just schematic, however they were chosen to reflect the American bipartisan system. We all know that political colors that correspond to ideologies are very different in the rest of the world.
Finally, there is a curve, or if you prefer THE curve: a gaussian curve which corresponds to the normal distribution of people’s ideology. Every person is located in the spectrum of humanity/monstrosity in the same way that the candidates are located. The ordinate value corresponds to the number of people who are located in any point of the political spectrum, defined on the abscissa.
How this curve is made and why it is a normal distribution? Unfortunately this curve is a normal distribution because in the current political debate there is a false notion of extremes. The dominating power of the argument of avoiding the extremes is defining the battleground and then propaganda mechanisms, like the mass media, are playing on a very specific limited space of political thought. However, features that define this shape of the curve are going to be better analyzed in the following lines.
So, let’s take first a very theoretical example. Imagine that we have two candidates, one fundamentally human and one fundamental monstrous. They are sitting on both sides of the dividing line of our ideological concepts. The curve in this occasion should have a peak exactly on this dividing line, the reason is very interesting.
Political candidates try to win an election, so they fight for the peak of this gaussian curve. The largest number of voters is there and therefore the winner will be the one who is going to win just a bigger fraction of this large amount. By adapting their policies they push each other, their own dividing line (the dashed line on the curve) toward the opposite direction, in order to win more voters. This push toward the opposite direction corresponds to some kind of political reconciliation. The monstrous candidate tries to be more slightly more human in order to win the election, the human one tries to be slightly more monstrous.
Doesn’t all this sound paradoxal? Why a human candidate should become monstrous in order to win the election against a monstrous opponent? Actually, it is paradoxal but this is one of the main arguments of politicians who want to keep their relatively progressive profile while adopting a more conservative policy. The “reconciliation in order to avoid the worst scenario” is generating a change in policies toward the “bad” direction. In this case, the blue candidate wins the election, as shown in the following figure.
However, adapting the policy is not the only way that one can win the election, convincing people that their policy is right is something more “traditional” and for some reason closer to a real ideological debate. Therefore, the politicians try to keep their position close to the line and move a percentage of the voters towards their side. Just a small adaptation of their rhetoric is enough in order to win the preference of these high numbers near the peak, which comes usually by a rhetoric against the opponent.
As one can see in the following schematically figure, if the curve is just slightly transposed, the blue candidate can win the election by a large margin.
However, there is also a necessity, for both candidates, to make their policy more effective. This means that a flat curve is not good, because the ability to gain a crucial number of voters is more effective through their concentration in a very limited ideological space. Therefore, this is one of the reasons why the “extremes” argument is used. In the following figures you can see how more “powerful” can be an elected candidate by narrowing the curve, while keeping exactly the same position in the ideological spectrum.
However who is the reason and who is the result of this process. Does the position of the politicians define the shape of the curve or the opposite?
Let’s take another hypothetical example, an optimistic one. In this example the candidates fight for the peak of the curve which is by far on the left side of the spectrum. If they have an equal battle, they will be both in the human side of the spectrum. If one wins by a small margin it is because this candidate convinced people with a much more human policy than the one that was proposed in the first example.
Now let’s think otherwise. The curve is the one shown in the second example but one candidate, the red one, is a monster, while the blue one remains a true human, far from the dividing line of the political spectrum. If we suppose that each one wins the voters that are closer to their side of the political spectrum, the blue candidate is going to win not only with a landslide, but with a phenomenal, historical percentage as shown in the following picture. However, this never happened.
Now let’s keep the curve as it is, with its peak in the human part and place the candidates near the dividing line of the human and monstrous side. In this case the result is just unreal, the blue candidate is going to win by a percentage that means that the red candidate doesn’t exist. Therefore, this can be used as a proof that this example is false.
Let’s try now the opposite example, a pessimistic one. The blue candidate is the worst case scenario for a good, human one, however the curve has a peak on the side of the monstrosity. If the red candidate is an evil candidate, the fact that people are thinking like monsters will provide a victory with an unreal margin, something that never happened too.
If the blue candidate struggles to approach the peak of this curve, there will be a scenario of two monstrous candidates. They will struggle for the voters on the side of the monstrosity and their rhetoric will target to balance the peak on their side. Even a monstrous blue candidate can lose this election.
If the blue candidate wants to win this election, the peak should be more easily moved and therefore the curve should be narrowed. The rhetoric will become adapted to a strong bipartisan terminal war and with a slightly more conservative position the blue candidate is going to gain the small necessary advantage in order to win the election and give an end to the era of monstrosity by being a monster.
With this examples anyone can understand two things: 1. The candidates are fighting for the peak of the curve, 2. The curve is defining the position of the candidates and not the opposite. Therefore a new interesting question is raised.
2. How is the curve shaped
As mentioned earlier, this curve is shaped through the ideological battle within a society. In societies where people are reading books, this curve is shaped through the ideas that are published in books. In societies where there is free speech and the means of expression are widely available, this curve is made through a process of a variety of ideas. In societies where people watch TV, the curves is shaped by the TV networks. In societies where people are informed through means of communications owned by big corporations, the curve is shaped by the interests of these corporations, depending in some level on the regulations of any given sovereign state where these corporations are located.
As mentioned earlier, an interest of the candidates and all those who are interested on the shape of this curve is to define its limits. Therefore, a narrower curve can define and control much better on what side of the political spectrum will be any winner candidate. For this reason, a very paradoxal arguments is initiated, the right of the middle ground, or more simply, the right of the moderate. However, let’s see how good it is to be a moderate.
Let’s take first the initial example, where things are in a fragile balance between humanity and monstrosity and suppose that every political side, supporting one candidate, has its own moderates. The blue arrow defines the blue moderates and the red arrow the red ones respectively.
When a moderate is considered someone who is positioned further from the dividing line, it means that the curve is more flat and therefore more ideas are discussed, more unpredictable is the outcome of the election. On the other hand, when the moderates approach the dividing line, the curve becomes more narrow and consequently the outcome will be a winning policy closer to the side of the opponent.
Let’s take the optimistic example of the previous part and see how a “moderate” crowd by becoming less moderate in the general population, which means moving away from the dividing line, can give the win to their candidate. In this occasion, the blue arrow is in the middle point of the blue voters. If this blue arrow moves to the left, it means that blue voters become more human and therefore their candidate will win. Why? Because this move of voters is not happening independently from the rest of the curve. The ideas that gain popularity in a society affect the way of thinking of other people that are confused ideologically in a given debate and therefore near the peak of the curve.
However, let’s see now why the “moderate” argument can be catastrophic. When this argument is used it means that the moderate is not someone who occupies the middle ground in a given situation, but someone who wants to make their position to be the middle ground. Therefore, in the pessimistic example of two monstrous candidates, the blue moderates try to push their side of the curve, near the dividing ling, higher and higher in order to give the win to their candidate. This doesn’t happen through ideological battle, but only through an argument that corresponds to a fundamental philosophical fallacy. Therefore, this is the only way to disturb the normal distribution of the curve, make one candidate’s policy accepted in a higher level by people who need to believe that they’re wrong or they just have to act as voters in a different way that they would desire to act as citizens. The result is to drive the peak and the people’s mind towards the side of the monstrosity, just in order to win by a little margin the election. However, they also might lose this election and wonder “how did we end up like this”.
A very obvious question based on the previous two figures is why acting like this as a “moderate” in order to secure the win and not only keeping the curve as it was, with more people on the left side of the spectrum. The answer is the addition of one parameter that was not used in all the previous examples, which makes some of the outcomes impossible. One key parameter in order to win the election is to have the largest amount of voters closer to one candidate’s actual position, otherwise they won’t be enough motivated to support any candidate. This is the reason why landslide wins are so rare in this bipartisan system. However, this behavior contributes to move towards dystopian realities. This is the strategy of the established political parties.
3. The important question
So, if you wonder “how did we end up like this” in America and why we might “end up like this” again in some months, you should better look the answer on the shaping of this curves and not on the strategies of the candidates. By looking how a candidate can be more attractive to the people who voted for the opponent, by looking who is a more preferable by the moderates and by leaving apart the real discussion of what society do we need, the human side is weakened and the reason is that this is happening because YOU’RE MISSING! So, the important issue is to define your own position on the curve!
Is it enough? No! But this is the only way. By stop thinking on how you should choose a candidate who will win this small margin, this small fraction of a predefined peak of the curve, you should think on how you can shape the curve, the one that really matters. Think first, read, find the fundamental knowledge that shapes the evolution of ideological debates through the history of humanity, be informed about the scientific advances and the actual knowledge that we have, as humans, after thousands of years of civilization and think forward, how our world should be, how it is rational and realistic to live the next day, how it can be a good day for more. Then act, speak, make your side stronger and let the others do the same for their side. No matter the result, at least you will never again wonder “how did we end up like this” by trying to avoid the worse.