The tired motif of public manipulation
Years pass, decades pass, governments come and go, yet it seems that the repertoire of every new administration and every new opposition remains equally poor and limited in scope. It consists of four or five standard lines that are regurgitated time and time again, even though they so obviously lack any intellectual brilliance or persuasiveness.
For example, every minister who comes out with something that seems at odds with the party line will argue his words were distorted, even if they were recorded by 10 cameras and 30 microphones. It is also commonplace to hear officials saying that any objections to their statements or actions are the product of fabrications and conspiracies.
From the side of the opposition, the line used most often is that anything the government does is an attempt at deceiving and misleading the people; this is a motif that is popular with all the opposition parties.
We are hearing the same old line repeated again today in regard to the government’s attempt to change the electoral law by introducing a system akin to proportional representation. The idea, apparently, is to equalize the importance of every vote so that there are no “worthless” or “game-changing” ballots, as is the case when the first party gets a bonus of 50 seats in the House.
We are seeing parties that are otherwise opposed to each other (such as conservative New Democracy, the Greek Communist Party, center-right To Potami and far-left Sailing for Freedom) converging – irrespective of their particular style of rhetoric – on the same accusation: that by changing the agenda, the government is trying to mislead the people.
This point of view has never found itself without its champions. There are always political forces willing to adopt it even though it is deeply insulting to the very people it is purportedly devised to defend.
In truth, how much does a society respect anyone who claims that its beliefs and feelings can be reset by any tactical move made by a government and are not the independent and well-founded product of day-to-day experience?
How much respect for the people does a party or official have when claiming that they can be manipulated by government scheming, that their behavior is that of someone who is dependent rather than free? Do any of them really believe that pensioners will forget the cuts they’ve suffered because the government changed the agenda? Or that the unemployed or underpaid will be led astray by public relations stunts? Or that overtaxed citizens will allow themselves to be deceived without putting up any resistance, like a beast that has no will of its own, no memory?
Do our political parties have such little faith in the citizens’ good judgment and maturity, even thought they are so eager to praise them?