Helping Politicians to Govern Well

Knowing what people want is necessary in helping politicians to govern well; government survival depends on being acceptable to the people.

If people are to be able to influence their governance, they need ways of raising issues with those in power; there are at least three options:

●  People can put unsolicited pressure directly on those who hold power (

●  They can express their views during formal consultation (6.5.3).

●  Governments can get feedback on people’s reaction to their policies through media reporting and Internet comment (6.4.3).

The knowledge of what people want is important in helping politicians to govern well.  When Donald Trump defied expectations and won the US Presidency in 2016, it was largely attributed to his having sensed the public mood: “the Americans who felt overlooked by the establishment and left behind by the coastal elite made their voices heard”.  The Democrats hadn’t responded to the rapid economic and social changes refer to earlier (6.7.8), and Hillary Clinton was dismissive of working class concerns.

Governments must be responsive if they are to survive:

●  Democratic governments must take account of public opinion, or they will lose the next election.

●  Authoritarian governments depend upon satisfying people’s expectations if they are to retain power in the medium-to-long term (

Feedback from the public must include the possibility of criticism if governments wish to be fully informed; communication is of no value if it is censored, or if people fear reprisals for expressing unpalatable opinions.  Freedom of speech in politics is the subject of the next section (



This page is intended to form part of Edition 4 of the Patterns of Power series of books.  An archived copy of it is held at https://www.patternsofpower.org/edition04/6831.htm.