Let individuals make more decisions for themselves

The current United States presidential election is widely regarded as one of the most viciously fought ones in American history.

The fact that both candidates, Mr Donald Trump and Mrs Hillary Clinton, have the worst approval ratings in decades reveals a growing disillusionment with democracy.

In such a context, it is easy for Singaporeans to run back to the idea that democracy should be resisted due to "Asian values", namely, our preference for order and stability.

Such a perspective would insist that the consensus politics that characterise Singapore is preferable to the bitterness that belies the American political landscape today.

Such a position is understandable. However, the state of American politics today is no reason to give up on democracy. Rather, we should strive to improve it.

One way to do this, interestingly, is to place limits on democracy, by moving items off the political decision-making table.

Collective decision-making, through voting or technocratic diktat, would be eschewed in favour of individual decision-making, where people decide for themselves on most matters of life.

A simple illustration would be this: Instead of educational issues being a matter for voters to decide on, individuals can simply "vote with their feet" and make decisions in the ballot box of the economic marketplace, and choose between competing providers.

We do not require a political decision on most matters, which will only result in a one-size-fits-all outcome.

By emphasising the primacy of individual decision-making in the private sphere, we can prevent an overload of the public agenda and better escape the zero-sum nature of politics.

Bryan Cheang Yi Da