I have heard that there is great discord, division and polarization in our politics these days. I would disagree with this, and give the following examples of broad agreement within today’s body politic.
(1) Things are in bad shape, and its someone else’s fault.
(2) Things need to be improved for my group, even if it harms the interests of the other.
(3) Even if the group I belong to has certain advantages, (and I am not admitting that my group has any) those advantages are justified because of history or genetics.
So we can just solve all of this through the magic of democracy right? One person, one vote and let the majority decide, right? What if your group or viewpoint (however just) does not have the votes to carry the day? Do you meekly submit to the tyranny of the majority? Not bloody likely, humans throw a fit when they lose a hockey game, so how cranky do they get when their vital political and economic interests are threatened, or at least not advanced?
To win a favourable political outcome without the free and fully comprehending support of the majority, you need to alter the political landscape. Low voter turnout assists the reduction of democracy because the interests of the non-voters can safely be ignored. If voter turnout can be further reduced by creating bureaucratic hurdles, the policy focus can be narrowed even more. If you can think of a way of suppressing voters that are less likely to support you, better yet.
All of this may still not be enough if your group is a particularly small one. It may be necessary to engage in deal making with other groups. The essence of good deal making is to turn a profit on the trade. It seems like the smart group (self-described) would seek to be paid in the currency of power, and this support would be paid for with support for other less important issues. The power gained by this group can then be used for any purpose the group wants to apply it to, including the maintenance and expansion of the power base itself. I suppose this mythical group should have a name, I think oligarchy has a bit of a ring to it.
When I look into the eyes of the oligarchy, I see the fervour of the true believer. The power and wealth that they have amassed is viewed as validation of the methods it took to achieve their position. “I am rich because I deserve to be rich” is the sort of unjustified entitlement that every adult has observed in every teenager. But the “I deserve to be rich, because I am rich” has an even more disturbing tone. Reality will sort out the entitled teenager soon enough, but it will take extensive political reform to re-acquaint the plutocrats with the concept of balanced rights and responsibilities.