The Aardvark Speaks : essence, effervescence, obscurity. Established 2002. A weblog by Horst Prillinger. ISSN 1726-5320

April 25, 2004

Merit or marketing?

Today's presidential elections in Austria will be an indicator of whether we've passed an important tide mark in politics: whether elections can still be won mostly on political merit, or whether they can be won mostly on aggressive marketing.

Up until about 20 years ago, most political parties fought elections by appealing to people's intelligence; it was about that time when they realized that they'd be much more successful if they appealed to people's stupidity instead, and sadly, that's what they've been doing to an increasing degree ever since. Josef Haslinger traced this development in his brilliant book Politik der Gefühle already 15 years ago.

In the past, only the very stupid wouldn't go to elections, leaving political decisions to the 85% people with a bit more brains, which was kind of okay. These days, as political parties no longer cater for people with brains in their head, more and more intelligent people no longer bother to vote, because they rightly feel that they are not being taken seriously. This leaves political decisions in the hands of the mediocre and of staunch party followers.

And that's how politics has become what it is these days.

Posted by Horst on April 25, 2004 10:25 AM to creatures great & small | Tell-a-friend

Georg said on April 26, 2004 11:49 AM:

Horst, THIS is a 'decline of the western world' post! Most of your others are not. I quote: These days, as political parties no longer cater for people with brains in their head, more and more intelligent people no longer bother to vote... I completely disagree with everything you imply here. Marketing does not exclude merit. I am astonished how 'people with brains' get so mesmerized by the cheesy marketing that they don't bother to argue about the merits any longer. It's their own mistake, and not so intelligent at all.

Horst said on April 26, 2004 04:32 PM:

Of course marketing does not exclude merit. It just seems to be preoccupied with lots of things other than merit.

Maybe I didn't make my point about the "people with brains" clear enough: I'm not just talking about electoral campaigns here, I'm talking about the politics in between elections as well. The way the political parties (and that includes *all* parties, government as well as opposition) are communicating their politics is at most times at best an insult to anybody's intelligence.

I don't feel like I'm represented by any of the Austrian political parties. At most elections I simply vote for who I think is the lesser evil. The presidential elections were a bit of an exception to this rule.

Of course you're right when you say it's debatable how much brains those "people with brains" have who don't vote. I hope they're merely blinded by frustration, but what they're doing by not voting is essentially very stupid.

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