Today, fact free politics is increasingly accepted. I guess that the victory of Donald Trump in the American presidential elections is a manifestation of this phenomenon. As we have seen during the fierce campaign, it was hardly about facts but rather about virtues, and perhaps –though less visible- about values. In its core, fact free politics makes some sense. However, completely ignoring facts while taking decisions about something does not. Where should we draw the line?
Recently, the headlines of the news have been dominated by all kinds of remarkable details regarding our politicians. However, they usually are not about the political ideas of the politicians or the party they represent, but rather about funny details and edgy characteristics. For instance, why is it so important that Hillary Clinton’s best friend was in a relation with a pervert? And why does Donald Trump keep emphasizing how successful and rich he is as a businessman? And why is the sexual orientation of the Dutch President more important than his liberal ideas on business? And how come that the news regarding the latest AESEAN summit was dominated by a silly remark of the President of the Philippines on Barack Obama, instead of the more pressing issues such as climate change and North Korea’s latest nuclear tests?
While democracy is often portrayed as a hard earned freedom and a prerequisite for being a well faring nation, it most certainly has a downside. Recently, we have seen plenty of examples in which democratic processes were used in a counterproductive way. For instance, the British referendum on the EU, the Dutch referendum regarding the association treaty with Ukraine, and the Republican nominee for the upcoming U.S. precedency can hardly be regarded as good examples of how democracy could contribute to better governance. Democracy in itself is not right nor wrong, it is the way people handle it that is. Constitutional protection and good citizenship should make democracy work.