October 8, 2004

What one young blogger thought after watching tonight’s presidential debate…

Democracy is killing our country. Everyone hails democracy as though it were a god. Our leaders are even willing to wage a war to spread it. But it’s really a cancer.

Plato nailed the problem with democracy in The Republic. Democracy, he wrote, errs by treating all men as though they are equal—when the truth of the matter is that all men are not equal, at least not with regards to their intelligence and values. But in America, everyone—despite their intelligence, despite their values—is given the same amount of political power as everyone else: one man, one vote. Thus, the man with a 90 IQ is given as much say as the man with a 110 IQ, the bigot as the just man.

In most areas of life, we acknowledge that people are unequal. For example, we would never say that everyone is equally qualified to be a doctor or an auto mechanic. No, we realize that only a certain number of people are suited to perform these jobs. Yet in politics we disregard the obvious fact of human inequality.

I think our forefathers were on the right track when they only allowed property owners to vote. Sure, there were some flaws in that system, but at least it ensured that most voters were educated. But, over the past hundred years, we’ve gradually given suffrage to a larger and larger percentage of the population. And look where that’s taken us.

The real problem with America is not that we have bad leaders, although we certainly do have bad leaders. The problem with America is that we have a political process that enables and in fact encourages bad leaders to come to power. Let’s face it, the masses are moved by emotional appeals. Therefore, when you let the masses vote, you make demagoguery a political necessity. The candidate most likely to win is no longer the man who has the best plan and can best articulate it; rather, he’s the guy most adept at stirring people’s passions.

If we had more of an elitist system, then the political discourse in this country would be elevated. If a greater portion of the electorate was rational, then politicians would be forced to focus more on issues and less on sound bites—and, as a result, the quality of our candidates and thus leaders would increase. The candidate most likely to win might no longer be the most handsome guy or the guy who looks best on TV, but the man best suited to lead.

So what do I propose? I think people should be forced to pass four tests before being allowed to vote: one that would judge their ability and willingness to think logically, another that would somehow determine their character (this would be a tricky one), a third that would rate their knowledge of the Constitution, and a fourth that would judge their knowledge of national and world events, both past and contemporary.

Such requirements wouldn’t solve all our nation’s problems. I realize that. But given the fact that all men are inherently unequal, I think they would be an improvement over our current system.

No comments: