Democracy is a system that’s fundamental to the society that we live in during this day and age, however there are some intrinsic issues with a voting system that relies on the ability of the general population in order to make a well informed decision about who should run a country. In the United Kingdom, he have a Prime Minister voted in by the public, much in the same way that the Presidential election works in the USA, I don’t have an issue with the idea of a group of parties putting together unique manifestos and debating to let an outside group of people determine which of them is going to be most suitable for the role of running a country. The problem I have is that the people in charge of making that decision, are the general population…
During my research for this article, it became apparent that this outlook has been argued since democracy began, Aristotle was noted as being against this kind of democracy as well. The thing is, the average person isn’t well enough equipped to make this decision, it’s a vote in which they aren’t well trained enough to predict the outcome and make a logical decision (this isn’t a dig, I’m included in this). But the average person doesn’t spend enough time studying the similarities and differences of all the parties, they don’t understand fully what each competing party will realistically be able to achieve, and what constitutes an ‘empty promise’ because most people don’t know facilities and what budget the ruling party will actually have access to.
I’ve found some statistics online and I just want to reel a few off for you (bearing in mind that most of these surveys were conducted in America):
- 1 in 4 adults believe that the sun orbits the earth.
- 48% of people don’t accept common ancestry of humans and other animals.
- 61% of people don’t accept the big bang.
- 2% of people are firm believers in the “flat-earth” theory.
And although that might just be testament to a failing American educational system, and not a survey of the general world population, my point is still valid that these people can, and most likely do, vote in a democratic election. And I’m not calling the average person stupid, just unprepared to vote in a democracy.
Let’s scale the issue down, say you’re about to be on a commercial space flight, something really incredible, but also something that could put you, and other people in danger. Well when it comes time to choose the pilot of that spacecraft, would you rather a group of 100 random people taken off the street read very biased reviews towards the candidates, and make the final decision based, pretty much solely, on who was most likeable and persuasive. Or would you rather a team of 20 people, all with a history of work pertaining to space travel, look at all the data, figure out all the statistical advantages and disadvantages of each and every candidate, and make a well-informed and well-guided decision on who is going to be the best and safest choice?
And that is exactly my point, making a decision about politics is extremely difficult to do correctly, and deciding who is capable of running a country is something that should take years of training and education, not something that should necessarily be a god given right because you’ve reached the threshold of a certain age.
However, as much as I see the fundamental flaws in the current system, I think giving the power to the people is a hallmark of a society that has faith in its constituent population, and their educational system. And I think that, for a lot of instances, the average person does have every right to be able to have their say in who makes them feel most secure and happy in the country that they live in.
There are three options when it comes to fixing this issue and seeing as one of the options is a dictatorship (which I strongly object to) we’ll skip that one and focus on the other two.
The first of those options is to vote for individual members of a board / committee who are in charge of choosing the next candidate, we see their credentials, they put forward why they should be allowed to make that choice, and argue with each other about why they should be given that power. Although this does raise the issue of how easy it would be for somebody wealthy to bribe a team of relatively few people, and this sort of works in a similar fashion to the system already in place where the members of a party can vote for the party leader.
So, the second, safer, option: We invest more into the education system, we teach politics to people more thoroughly before they reach the voting age, and then when they do get that option to vote, they can actually think for themselves in the most logical, well-informed manor possible. And for a country that relies heavily on the population to decide who’s going to be in charge, I personally don’t think it’s too much to ask that in return, the government that we elect will put measures in place to constantly improve our decision making process.