US Election 2016 has highlighted mistrust of government to the level of a democratic crisis.
Here, in Canada, one of the things we’re doing to address political disillusionment and disengagement is tackling electoral reform. The debate is focused on issues like: 1) proportional representation, 2) electronic voting, 3) mandatory voting. What about the thought that these issues were the avant-garde, pressing issues of decades ago?
They are still forefront pressing issues today, only because they have not been dealt with.
The problem is that, added to these, many other issues have compounded (witness US election). People’s perceptions of government and indeed, public organizations, have evolved rapidly. People’s expectations about being engaged, whether it is by a brand or by a government have evolved. Engagement is more accessible because of social media and the internet, and people are expecting to be engaged on that level. Can we only explain Trump’s appeal by the fact that he was able to engage with people who otherwise felt disengaged?
How to deal with current issues/possibilities of continuous engagement and decision-making when we are so barely able to deal with issues such as proportional representation and electronic voting?
How will governments and other democratic organizations then stay relevant?
We need to get onto having a very real look at our public and democratic institutions fast. Otherwise, people like Trump?