We believe that the world has entered a new era, and we need a new way of life. Taoism may provide a good choice. Everyone is welcome, and please leave your comments. Please visit: http://taoism21cen.com Dr. You-Sheng LI.
The current election of the United States, George Bush versus John Kerry, is a tight race locked in a heated struggle for both sides. Through the whole campaign period, no side has ever come out as the decisive winner. The whole country was in a gloomy mood worrying about the possible result similar to last time when Bush won by 500 votes in the recount. I met many Americans who said, Bush was going to win by a little margin since the Democrats, unfortunately, did not come out with a better candidate.
I wrote those sentences a few days before the 2004 United States presidential election. The final result was 51% versus 48% but with a high voter turnout rate of 60%. When I saw thousands of voters in line waiting to vote on TV, I seemed to hear their impatient voices in my mind: Who is the guy a little bit ahead? You don’t like Bush? I don’t like him either. But for God’s sake, give him a push. It will be disaster for democracy if we repeat what happened four years ago.
A few months ago the presidential election of Taiwan ran a very similar course. Both sides were fully motivated with massive gatherings or marches for one or the other during the campaign time. Even Taiwanese overseas were excited to travel back home to vote. One day before the election, the president and vice president, who later won the race by a margin in the range of a dozen of thousand, were both slightly injured in an assassination attempt during a campaign appearance. After the election, the losing party immediately requested a recount which found invalid votes, which were arguable, that amounted to far more than the margin by which the president had won his race. The opposition also accused the president of staging the assassination attempt to win sympathy votes. To my knowledge the dispute has not been settled yet. People still remember the last American election four years ago. The Democratic Party won the most votes but lost the election, and the recounts were only settled by the high court.
Those election results are by no means the voters’ wish or represent a majority of the people. Ancient people cast lots to make a choice. Those elections are nothing more than casting lots but the cost ran in the dozens of billion of dollars. For the 2004 election the government provided $74.6 millions for both George W. Bush and John Kerry but they actually spent 330.7 and 279.0 millions respectively. Has our democracy run out of choice? To many citizens who care little about the election the answer is yes.
A banker who was interviewed by CBC Radio said, Bush and Kerry were the same to him. If there was any difference at all between them, it was like that between Classic Coke and Diet Coke. A banker is a businessman who has a strong sense of orientation or direction. His metaphor was also oriented one: From Classic to Diet Coke is a moving direction like from conservative to progressive.
Most people may not care whether the country gets a Classic or a Diet Coke but some do prefer one to another. Let’s say more voters prefer the Classic one. What would happen next? Diet Coke would change a little bit to make itself more Classic like, and vice versa. Thus both sides will balance out to make sure there is no clear choice left for the voters. The voters are acting exactly the same way. If Classic Coke is winning, its voters will say my favourite Coke is winning any way, I do not need to bother the voting. On the other side, lazy Diet Coke voters who never planned to vote, alarmed by the winning edge of the opposition, decide to cast last minute votes to prevent the other party from winning.
Democracy is a major development in modern history and has brought many changes to the world. But democracy is not perfect. Socrates was executed by votes and Hitler won the popular vote in his early years. Votes can decide on measurable and tangible things which everybody can see clearly.
If we call the primitive community in ancient societies the primary society, then modern society is the secondary society. The secondary society has its own purpose which is essentially not interests of its people. One of a few exceptions is war. When there is war, the society and its people have the same interests---wining the war and defending the society.
In a secondary society, there is a clear direction and full purpose when there is a threat of war. A Taoist would say even in such a situation, the government has no reason to engage its people’s full attention. People have the right to have their life and their own worlds uninterrupted for any reason. In our real and unfortunate world, if the enemy motivates its whole population, our government has to catch up to prepare against possible attack. In the Second World War, the Chinese slogan for the day was all for the war. Any theatre, entertainment, magazine, or newspaper was ordered to carry the same message: fight the war against the Japanese. At least four hundred millio
A full version of this essay is available at the following website, and the reader can read it by clicking the following title:
Has Democracy Run Out of Choice?
written by You-Sheng Li
Another related essay by the same author:
The Ancient Chinese Super State of Genetically Coded Primary Societies and its Implications for Modern Democracy
written by You-Sheng Li