I believe that Idealism is a good thing. It often holds new and unexplored ideas, it nurtures public debate, so that it does not get stuck. It is important in any society to be able to dream of an ideal situation. No doubt about that. What I have in mind, when posing this question is: “Is idealism a good thing for the democratic process? Are people with idealistic beliefs beneficial for democracy? Is democracy beneficial for idealists?” Let’s give these questions some time, you and I.
What do I mean by willful blindness? It seems to me that voting idealistically in elections is pointless. Elections are won by majority. The majority will never have the same ideals. If they would, there would already be some slightly different versions of the same “opposing” each other. Because no two persons have the same ideals, let alone majority. Thus, idealists will never win the general election.
First thing that comes to mind after that statement, is: “How about the fascists, communists and other totalitarian regimes that got into power through elections?” (Obviously excluding the soviets.) Firstly, not all who voted for them were idealists, I think a lot of people saw the problems with either of the systems, but hoped, or thought of it as lesser evil. Secondly, in this particular case, I actually believe, that people have learned. How idealistic of me.
Maybe I should rather ask: “Are idealists willfully blind? Do they choose not to see that their ideals are unattainable in the vastness of society?” From this point on, I am supposing they are not actually ignorant of the fact that this is the case. Because if they do not see that, then they are actually blind and should probably skip to the final 2 paragraphs. So, now the million dollar question. Why do the idealists choose not to see their votes being ignored? Why do they vote for parties without real influence, without a glimpse of chance of getting a real voice in the government?
A person very dear to me has introduced me to a good reason for that, which I have never thought before. (Even if you are not dear to me, but have a comment, feel free to write me. 😀 I always like to hear a new angle.) They do it for their own conscience. So they can look at themselves in the mirror, so to say. That to me, seems very likely, people are, after all, emotional creatures. It is quite sad, that emotions seem to also be used in the wrong places. People could not live with the thought that they had not done all that was in their power to achieve their ideal vision. Thus, the only call from me, will be a call to reason.
Any functioning democratic rule consists of 2 tough compromises. First one is among the voters and second one among parties in the parliament (in the mutli-party system common in Europe). The first one is the one that is up to the people. They must decide to vote for parties, that are in no way ideal. Except for the few ones so small or new, that they were not able to discredit themselves yet. This is what the idealists struggle with. Do I vote for someone that will not represent my beliefs, but will represent them more than some other party in the elected parliament? Or do I likely throw out my vote by voting for someone that speaks to my heart, but will not have a chance to speak in the parliament? Or even better, do I not vote at all, because nobody believes what I believe.
Elections are too much influenced by feelings already. My dear idealists, try to listen to reason. It will not feel good, it should not feel good. It is politics, after all. There is no dreamworld. There is no paradise. Open your eyes and accept the flawed reality. It will hurt, but it will do you good in the long term.
PS: Oxford dictionary has as one of the antonyms to the word “ideal” a beautiful word: “real”. I have nothing more to say to that.