Last weekend was another election weekend. For me, this is reason enough to think about parties and politics. And about how political opinions are shaped today. After all, it is one of the tasks assigned to parties. They are paid for it by the state.
Today, taking part in a democratic forum for shaping your political opinion is nowhere near as costly as it probably was 50 years ago. We live in times where this is possible without having to sacrifice long nights full of cigarettes and red wine.
The “only” thing an active citizen has to invest these days in order to shape his political opinion is his time. What is needed is the good intention and the potential of as many people as possible to acquire knowledge and evaluate the challenges of the modern society in an autonomous and self-responsible way. You have to think, understand and accept other people’s opinions and views, or else counter them.
In order to do so, you have to develop values and your competence for dialectically debating arguments. Fighting slogans and simplified dogmas are no help. Electoral promises are no longer welcome. The citizens have to remember their autonomy and refuse to accept simplified “certainties” and frivolous babble. They must start anew as responsible citizens who question things.
And, above all, they must be prepared to re-evaluate their own interests and vested rights.
Democracy is a question of culture and education. It depends on the willingness to accept the general welfare as a common value. That is something you basically need no money for!
We live in a time when the shaping of political opinions can be achieved extremely easily. Nowadays, you can inform yourself and others at a low cost, communicate and discuss matters with others without problems, make up your own mind and convince yourself and others. Even if the other parties concerned live far away. Because we now have the internet!
Consequently, the state should no longer throw the money of its citizens away by subsidizing fossilized party structures!
Basically, the money is just spent for marketing, thus strengthening the oligarchic position of the existing parties (Oligarchie der vorhandenen Parteien). And that is something the German philosopher Karl Jaspers warned us against as early as 40 years ago. Unfortunately, his warning went unheeded.
Modern parties will not need federal money for their central tasks. Giving them bounty on head for each voter only supports the crustification of grown power structures. Those who are powerful get most of the money and thus can invest even more into marketing.
I often hear the argument that party financing helps against a situation as we find it in the USA. There, a candidate only has a chance to get elected if he is either super-rich himself or/and has friends with a lot of capital who (for whatever reasons) are prepared to give him money for his electoral campaign. However, those sums are in a completely different league. Some additional (federal) money would not really make a huge difference.
So here is what I propose:
Ban marketing for politics (as has been done for tobacco and alcohol), reduce propaganda through public ostracism, base the electoral campaigns on facts, rather than influencing the opinion building process through the supply of party structures with “federal money”.
(Translated by EG)