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Inability to Govern or Ability Not to Govern?

Inability to Govern or Ability Not to Govern? Economy Near Us (XLVI)

These days, our society is the hapless witness of an odd (although not absolutely novel) behaviour of the political class regarding the act of governing – an irrepressible desire and willingness to govern for the good of society, which springs from public declarations, and, at the same time, a stubbornness in designing the government/governing for their own private interest and good, which is easily inferable from the (more or less public) actions. Although the politicians must, most of the time, deliver on their promises to the public, based on the confidence from that public that they will accomplish what has been promised, this time we see, in fact, only a competition between the two parts which are engaged in the political fight, to better convince the public regarding their true intentions and purposes (which are, of course, well masked). Maybe you believe that those intentions and purposes are focused on solving the difficult, structural, and chronic problems (not only economic but in fact, of all crucial domains of the society) and that from this fact flows all the misunderstandings between them. Maybe, again, you believe that the reciprocal “crusade” is carried starting from and based on essential (or even contradictory) differences between their political ideologies or programs regarding the direction society should take. Such a perspective could be taken into account if, of course, we could find such ideologies or programs, except a list containing all the best goals in any field – more exactly, a list of desirabilities of good sense, which no sound person can reject or contest somehow. But, although politics is the art of the possible, it is not at all the art of throwing on paper anything that could make a good impression, without any responsibility for the consequences or necessaries of their accomplishment. The basic lines of the so-called ideologies or programs are missing any doubt regarding their implementation, any un-intentioned (negative) consequence that may be triggered through the very implementation, any concern regarding the resources needed which (if they would exist) denotes responsibility, commitment, and even accountability. Therefore, we, who powerlessly assist at this monkey business (because our votes which entitle the so-called politicians to unfold all this deplorable spectacle have already been granted to them) cannot do anything other than ask ourselves how it was possible to vote in unfit people to whom we vainly entrusted our hopes, our work, and, in the last instances, our lives (e.g., regarding the handling of the COVID-19 pandemic).

Ability, intelligence, wisdom

Nobody can honestly contest/reject the competence of our politicians in keeping their positions at the top of society. We see such an ability at work on a daily basis and almost everywhere. But the ability (even in the political field) is not just related to intelligence. This is because (political) intelligence requires a rare and costly ingredient: responsibility. More than that, (political) wisdom requires even more (in addition to the responsibility of the intelligence): a genuine vision regarding the future of the society concerned. So, from the political self-preservation ability which the TV highlights for us to political wisdom is a long and difficult way (as it is from ability to intelligence).

Legality and legitimacy

Our votes are invested into the politicians to exert, on our behalf, our inalienable sovereignty, in order to contribute to some improvement(s) of our lives. This is an imperative (that is, an unconditioned) obligation for politicians for continuing to exercise our sovereignty on our behalf – and this state is a legitimate one. When and if those politicians use their right to make decisions not based on our needs but on their own interest, this state of affairs is not legitimate anymore, although it still maintains its legality. When legality becomes illegitimate, such legality must be withdrawn by those who granted it (for example, by referendum or other constitutional tools), before the end of the mandate given. For the politicians who use their legal position not to act in a legitimate way and purpose, this is the decisive test for highlighting their political imposture, and they should no longer avail themselves by our confidence and votes.

Commitments and announcements

An announcement has a symbolic utility because it unveils a commitment that the announcer takes on behalf of himself. A political announcement means, therefore, an imperative engagement of the politician involving hard work and the accomplishment of the content of the announcement in case. More than an announcement, a program (either political or economic) symbolizes a principle or a set of principles which the politicians (for example, a political party) commit to respect and to put in practice until their final consequences. By formulating a principle (or, equivalently, by announcing a program), a political ideal is stated against which no dishonest compromise is acceptable. Unfortunately, the political programs (and, by way of consequence, the economic or social programs) of the parties are only well written gramatically, having nothing to do with realism, feasibility, reliability, and responsibility.


To govern means having empathy. Not all of the current problems can be solved quickly and very well, but the problems of the people must automatically become the personal priorities of the politicians involved. As Ion I.C. Brătianu, former interwar Prime Minister of Romania, said: “Politics is something serious, very serious. You have in your hand the life and the future of your country”. The politician must be, of course, efficacious in solving the problems which he has to solve, but, at the same time, he must be aware of the necessity of solving, and, especially, by his moral (besides legal) obligation of solving it. That means having empathy. Without empathy, mechanical governing can take place, some sort of robotic problem solving. Without empathy, the gravity or urgency of some problems of the people cannot even be acknowledged.

Big systems and small systems

It is much easier to lead a big system (e.g., a country) than a small one (e.g., an enterprise). For in a big system the big errors are quickly neutralized just through the dimensions and the reserve capacities, while, in a small system, small errors quickly penetrate that system and disturb it. The skilled (in self-preservation only) politicians instantaneously learn this when they enter politics. As a consequence, this category of politicians never has the responsibility of their errors, mistakes, misunderstandings, and the like (I speak here of the normal case; there is another case, where corruption, especially when it touches even the state powers, can, obviously, impact the capacity to absorb the consequences of bad decisions and can also lead to the penalization of the politician).

Sour conclusions

The conclusions cannot be of another sort, of course, other than sour. Very few of the “good properties” are exhibited by the current politicians. In my opinion, the direction (both political and ethical) in a political party is set by its leader. I am not so naïve to believe, like Plato, that a genuine politician should be an erudite, or a scholar, or a genius. But I think I am entitled (by my voting power and in my quality as holder of sovereignty) to claim at least that the politicians who decide on my behalf:

(i) should be empathetic with me

(ii) should be focused on my needs and aspirations

(iii) should love my (and their) country

(iv) should resign when they feel unable to resist illegitimate temptations

(v) should consider their mandate as a mission, not a simple occupation.



The Market For Ideas Association

The Romanian-American Foundation for the Promotion of Education and Culture (RAFPEC)

Amfiteatru Economic