Monday, April 18, 2005
End Democracy Now
The assumption that voting somehow is innately equitable or democratic is one of the greatest farces of American politics: not only does Chimpy McBushCo's re-election show that, so does the CA recall and the ascendency of Schwarzenegger, California's cartoon King. Education requirements, poll tests, etc. however un-populist they may seem, might be in dems and 3rd party interests. A poll test would not play well with poor urban minorities but might keep large numbers of uneducated, redneck bible-thumpers out of the voting booth.
Establishing some criteria to insure voter intelligence/fitness is no more absurd than say a college professor giving tests to insure student intelligence/fitness. Is the right answer to dy/dx sin (Pi*x) a matter of raising hands in the math classroom?
Yes, it certainly could be dangerous--i.e. if fundamentalists or organized criminals got in control of voting process (oh that's right they already have)--but not so much more dangerous than thinking a popular vote leads to equitable politics. Plato himself disparaged democracy and a popular vote in the Republic; majorities supported Hitler and Mussolini. What if say Larry Flynt (who garnered over 200 thousand votes in CA recall) had actually triumphed in California recall? Flyntville would hardly seem an acceptable democracy.
I brought this up on a blog and some of the resident academic liberals were a bit irked. But what is really irksome is the sentimental liberal's trust in the masses, the naive hope that the underclasses will all perceive the great truths of democracy and eventually start voting in qualified, rational candidates and propositions.
Remember the California propositions in the last election? 64 for instance. Thanks to some high-priced ads paid for by the corporate deep pockets, the corporate boys got out the message that this law would be like a Prop 13 reform, and keep attorneys from making excess profits etc. But what it really did is protect corporations from lawsuits and in effect reverse decades of decent environmental policies that allowed people and groups to sue corporations. So an injust or at least oligarchic prop. was put into effect. It would be easy to think of many other examples of unpleasant policies and laws put into effect by popular mandate, or by politicians put into office by popular vote. And in addition to voter intelligence tests, requiring some modicum of education for aspiring candidates--economic and historical education if not scientific--would be a prudent course. I think people should be aware of whether the Governator really knows what say present and future value is. Or something like that.
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