Does a political system shape the opinions of its citizens?

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PPolitics now play a more important role in societies than could be said before. On a particular continent we hear of several overthrown governments, there is instability because a radical group makes it difficult for the government of the day to function, and closer to home in the Caribbean, a particular leader of one country has had an unfortunate result.
At the center of it all is politics and the desire for power, influence and control.

But above all, it is a political system that embodies and promotes political ideas and political activities based on its authority and resources, and above all its ability to influence and defend its positions.

The political system creates policies and programs, which the general public, through the institutions governed by the political system, receive in the form of benefits or sponsorship. This favoritism is a subtle way to gain political support for the system. And associated with it are ideas, designed to make the political system respectable and acceptable.

Additionally, the political system has its own ideology, or set of beliefs that it uses to influence and promote its positions, and in many cases, either in subtle ways or overtly deliberate, expects its citizens accept his view of the world. Otherwise, certain consequences could ensue.

He uses all kinds of media, the clients he has brainwashed, and the threat of retaliation if his citizens generally do not accept his political views. For this reason, many citizens accept the position taken by the political system and therefore are trained to believe what the system says about issues.

We have many political ideas that one type of system or another uses to shape its vision of how society and its institutions work. Democracy is one of them and is interpreted to mean respect for the rights of others, freedom of choice and association, freedom of speech and the freedom to change a government once its citizens feel that he betrayed the trust and responsibility placed in him by people. Here, personal choice and individual freedom are important.

Other types of systems fall under different levels of authoritarianism, where rights are denied, and serious consequences could result for those who challenge this system. Even though some systems come to power as democracies, they are gradually migrating to exercise greater control over their people, change the constitution, and even introduce new laws designed to muzzle others.

Some political systems, while claiming to function according to the wishes of the citizens, in fact ignore those wishes. They appoint a ruling council, with its supporters as senior members of the ruling group, which make governance decisions and pressure the bureaucracy to execute them.

These systems impose their will, using indoctrination and propaganda to shape and determine how its citizens should think. Some so-called socialist systems even refer to themselves as the government of the people, when in fact they represent a clique of ideologues who actually run things, with a maximum leader, whose authority is unchallenged. Any dissent is dealt with swiftly, while slogans such as “Homeland or Death”, “Long live our leader” and “Socialism is love” are constant refrains designed to mystify citizens and promote a sense of patriotism. , while encouraging the allegiance and support of the ruling elite.

Often, middle-class intellectuals who have been exposed to advanced political ideas are used as instruments to persuade, clarify and let citizens know where the system is going, what it is doing and how they would benefit from the loot they would receive. in return. for his support. In this way, the strength of the political system is further enhanced.

The middle class political actors who support the system therefore help to shape the minds of citizens in such a way that they accept the ideology and political ideas of the ruling establishment, and thus perpetuate them. They provide a compass to the citizens of where the system is going and what they should believe.

This allows the political system to constantly rebuild itself.
In addition, a political system can shape the opinions of its citizens by providing a vision of what it intends to achieve, or even what it has achieved, as a result of its access to communications technology, and insights from its decision makers and those who shape information and issues to make the system the best it can be.

And it is interesting to note that even in a democracy there are different perspectives on what is happening provided by the conflicting political forces. These have the effect of the political system shaping opinions in one way or another, which does not lead to a consensus, but to an increased polarization of society on ideological grounds.
But in authoritarian systems support is enforced by coercive means, while in democracies support comes through the exercise of free choice. In both cases, the opinions of citizens are shaped by the various messages put forward by the political system.

* Oliver Mills is a former Senior Lecturer in Education at the University of the West Indies Mona Campus. He holds an MA in Education from Dalhousie University in Canada, an MA from the University of London and a Graduate Diploma in HRM and Training from the University of Leicester. He is a former Permanent Secretary of Education with the Government of the Turks and Caicos Islands


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