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March 3, 2017 / Congau

Counting the Popular Will

The will of the people is sacred. At least it would have been, had it been known. People, as individuals or en masse, want what is best for themselves, and the state should be governed accordingly. Nothing could be more obvious. But what do they want? How do we know what they really want?

Modern democracy has invented a method of knowing, simple but effective; the popular vote. Leave or remain? Take it or Brex it? Yes or no? Ask that question on a particular day and encourage the people to answer. Everybody should answer; those who know what they want, those who think they know and those who were moved by the latest blow of the wind. Count the ballots, arrive at a number and that is the will of the people.

But the vote could have been held on a different day. A week before or after, a year sooner or later, the result might have been different. Why was the will of the people more important on that particular day? Of course it wasn’t, but that doesn’t matter for the real will can never be determined anyway. It is all more or less arbitrary. Then why engage in this game of hazard?

A referendum is never necessary, but normal elections serve a purpose. The leaders must somehow be chosen and a public poll is one way to do it. Hereditary succession is another and war is yet another, but the popular vote has often proved to be a smooth and painless method.

If only they can agree on the procedure and accept the outcome, it is not significant how it is done. One candidate receives three million more votes, but the other one is appointed president. That is not important, for the rules of the game are all that matter.

Only don’t call it the will of the people. It is hidden anyway.

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