My brother is visiting and amidst the touring around we got into a more serious chat about US politics. More particularly, the talk was about the recall vote going on in Wisconsin testing whether Governor Walker will stay in office. It is a one off event, right? Well, the odd thing is that it seems to us as if it is not. It seems as if a group of people acting on a national level in the US have a policy agenda that shows disdain for the public. And when you start talking that way in casual conversation, you get a creepy feeling that something is wrong. This is not “government by discussion” of the sort that John Stuart Mill advocated.
Mill? I remember Mill because Amartya Sen mentions him in an article today. He writes about European policy makers
Europe cannot revive itself without addressing two areas of political legitimacy. First, Europe cannot hand itself over to the unilateral views — or good intentions — of experts without public reasoning and informed consent of its citizens. Given the transparent disdain for the public, it is no surprise that in election after election the public has shown its dissatisfaction by voting out incumbents.
Political discourse can be many things, but it is not supposed to be disdainful of the public. It is odd that one gets the appearance of disdain in political discourse both in the US and in Europe. What is going on?