There is a common belief by the general public that the general public knows what’s best for the general public. Ah, democracy, that lofty ideal we hold so dear. But is it all it’s cracked up to be? Or, is democracy simply three drunk men outranking the one sober man on the matter of who gets to drive?
Many, usually those on the left, believe that more democracy is the answer. They want more matters decided at ballot boxes and less by representatives or courts. They believe that low voter participation is bad and that getting more people to participate will improve the quality of elections and their results.
Sadly, they are mistaken. The public as a body has no special knowledge—getting more people involved in the decision process does not make the results any better. In fact, it probably makes them worse. Let’s throw our preconceived notions about democracy out the window and take a look at it objectively from a statistical point of view.
Statistically speaking, near-half of the public has below average intelligence. This is not to disparage anyone or to assert where my own intelligence would rank; it is simply statistical fact. An average intelligence would be those falling in the middle, while near-half the nation would fall below the average and near-half would rank above average. This is fact.
So how does a majority rules system function when near-half of the public is below average in intelligence? Not well. The uninformed and less intelligent make up nearly half the country. Or any country, for that matter. It’s the inherent flaw in democracy: the fickle wants and desires of the masses.
What has it given us? For starters, an inexperienced president who, despite failing at every reasonable benchmark his first term, was reelected. Obama is a president that people supported for the color of his skin, or for his empty rhetoric and unfulfilled promises.
Now as we seek to elect another president, the masses are once again pushing terrible candidates for the highest office in the free world. On the left we have Bernie Sanders: an admitted socialist who vacationed in the Soviet Union, who wants to institute an economic system that has ruined free societies, impoverished wealthy nations, and was responsible for the death of 100 million people in the 20th century. Bernie believes if we had less brands of deodorant that we would somehow have more ability to feed hungry children—his understanding of economics is juvenile.
On the right we have a reality TV star who has gone bankrupt three times and openly brags about buying politicians. Donald Trump, the man who has more flip-flops than Florida beaches, who donated millions to Democratic candidates, including Hillary Clinton. In fact, Trump contributed millions to the Clinton Foundation, an organization under heat by the right for improprieties and corruption. Recently, linguistic experts analyzed Trump and his speeches, determining that he speaks at a grade school level. Is it any wonder he’s resonating with the general public?
I don’t believe either of these men will be president, because if there is one thing the public is other than unintelligent, it’s fickle. The fact that these two candidates are doing so well is troubling enough and should undermine your faith in whomever the two parties do wind up picking.
But America isn’t alone. Democracy has led to an awful situation in England, where the new Labour party leader has even strident leftists sounding alarm bells. Socialist Jeremy Corbyn is the new leader of Britain’s Labour party, coming to power after Conservatives handed them a crushing defeat in the country’s elections last May.
Corbyn is a blatant example of how the left is evolving in Europe, and it’s terrifying. Corbyn’s Labour party is anti-free market to the extreme; wanting to nationalize the country’s utilities, ban private healthcare, and massively devalue their own currency to pay for exorbitant infrastructure projects. Corbyn also wants to pull Britain out of NATO, and has often bent over backwards to excuse Vladimir Putin. He has a history of associating with blatantly anti-Semitic individuals and has defended Muslim jihadists. He even went to bat for the leader of the Islamic Movement in Israel who claimed that the Jews were behind the 9/11 attacks.
We can breathe a sigh of relief that Bernie Sanders has never engaged in such lunacy, but the slippery slope of democracy could very well earn us our own Jeremy Corbyn in the future. Our friends and allies to the north certainly aren’t immune.
While Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper has by any objective measure has done a fine job leading Canada, it seems likely that the country will end up with a coalition liberal government after next month’s election. Particularly troublesome is the candidacy of Justin Trudeau. Mr. Trudeau is a pretty face with more useless platitudes and empty rhetoric than a snake oil salesman. He has demonstrated he has very little knowledge about Canada’s current fiscal condition. His urging Canadians to grow their economy ‘from their hearts’ has been dubbed “Care Bear economics” by his critics. Truly, there is nothing that demonstrates Trudeau would make a capable prime minister. Yet he may very well be the next leader of our good neighbor to the north.
With leaders like that, it is understandable why members of Trudeau’s party support mandatory voting laws. The more uninformed people at the polls, the better the chances for candidates like Trudeau.
Democracy is beyond flawed. As Ben Franklin is often credited for saying: it’s two wolves and a sheep voting on what’s for dinner. It’s drunk people wrestling each other for the wheel of this crazy car called society, while those of us who are sober cringe and shudder in the backseat.
Our Founding Fathers understood the danger of unfettered democracy. Jefferson often wrote of “the tyranny of the masses.” That is why they restrained government with the Constitution. In the new American republic there were to be restrictions on what government could do and how important decisions were to be made. We popularly pick our leaders, as there is no better way, but those leaders are supposed to have strict guidelines which only allow them to act on a small scope of affairs.
Slowly we have dismantled many of those controls. We have brushed aside the Bill of Rights in pursuit of security, and allowed government to grow well beyond its constitutional role. In 1913, we decided to popularly elect our senators rather than have them appointed by the states. ‘More democracy!’ was the cry of those who pushed for this. Yay, democracy! Now we have senators who have to campaign, who have to court donations, who have to play politics, and who are chosen by an uninformed and unintelligent population.
Is it any wonder that the more restraints we cast aside, the more democratic our society becomes, the higher the debt has climbed? Is it any wonder we’ve lost privacy? Is it surprising that our foreign policy is disastrous and often contradictory? That our healthcare system is becoming more costly and less accessible?
The American republic was never perfect; governments and society can never be. But it did provide protections from tyranny, whether that tyranny came from on-high or from the ballot box. Until we get back to those notions of restraint in governance, we will continue down our slippery slope. Democracy is not a panacea, though to some it is placebo. Let’s not let our country disintegrate over a placebo effect.