Against Voting

Yesterday was Election Day, meaning a lot of people spent a lot of time talking about how important voting is. Voting is the cornerstone of democracy—it’s a cliché, but it’s true. And, as most of the Western world lives in a democracy, we hear a lot about the importance of voting. When President Obama went on The Daily Show last week, he made sure to remind viewers to vote in yesterday’s elections, and you can assuredly find countless celebrity videos and PSAs telling people to vote every November, or risk their corporeal demise.

It’s true that voting plays a significant role in our society, but that doesn’t make it good. There are plenty of things that are important but terrible: the Iraq War, cancer, the Tea Party, religion, the imperial conquests of the British Empire, terrorism, Dr. Luke’s contributions to pop music, infanticide, etc. Like all of these things, voting’s negative consequences so overwhelmingly exceed its positives that voting in democratic elections ought to be considered an immoral act.

The argument against voting can be broken into two separate arguments: the argument against democracy* in general, and the argument against casting a vote in a democracy. The first seems controversial but is actually relatively straightforward. The second seems like it should follow logically from the first, but it is actually far more complex and tricky. First, though, we have to start with a critique of democracy.

*The term “democracy,” like most important things, is very hard to define, but here’s a loose definition that should work for the purposes of my argument and avoid any controversy: A government is democratic to the extent that it derives power from votes cast by its citizens.

The Argument against Democracy

Arguing against democracy strikes some people like arguing against the wheel—an exercise in futility directed against something society has long accepted as thoroughly practical and beneficial.

In fact, though, it shouldn’t be hard to see why democracy, in all its forms, is a fundamentally flawed concept. By its definition, democracy puts governing directly or indirectly in the hands of people who are unfit to govern. We shouldn’t use popular elections to choose government leaders for the same reason we don’t use popular elections to choose our doctors, or lawyers, or travel agents. Heck, voting isn’t even an effective way of choosing an American Idol.

Now, there are a lot of normative, theory-based objections to democratic government, but probably the most important objection is this simple and mundane fact: Voters are, as a whole, terrible. Most voters are misinformed, stubborn, irrational, self-centered, or all these things combined. Many voters believe things such as “Barack Obama is a secret Muslim who wasn’t born in America,” or “George W. Bush was personally responsible for 9/11.” Such absurdities are believed by enough “likely voters” to actually influence the course and outcome of political campaigns.

It is, admittedly, a little unfair of me to point to the extremes as a way of characterizing something as diverse as the American populace, even if the vote of an extremist counts the same as the vote of a clear-headed, rational individual. Even looking at clear-headed voters, however, does not paint a portrait of people informed about a wide slate of issues. Your average voter may not think that America is becoming a socialist country or an imperial empire, but he also probably doesn’t know the difference between monetary and fiscal policy or, for that matter, the content of all ten amendments in the Bill of Rights. And yet we entrust decisions of massive importance to him….

Before you resort to charges of elitism, though, I should clarify that I am not trying to espouse some misanthropic “society is stupid” claim. I’m not trying to say, and I don’t believe, that the American people as a whole are “dumb.” Most people are smarter than we give them credit for, but democracy is not really about intelligence—it’s about expertise, or even just competence. Presumably someone would not get accused of elitism for claiming that most Americans could not install a home’s central air-conditioning system—we all understand that most people don’t have the time or interest in acquiring the proper training, knowledge, or experience for such a specific task. Instead, we give the job to a specialist, while voting, an act with far more repercussions than A/C installation, we entrust to everyone.

We like to pretend that Americans do get some kind of “training” for the civic act of voting, in the form of an education. This is naïve thinking at best. Even if every citizen were guaranteed a decent secondary education (quite a fantasy given the current status of American education), this would be misguided. For one, the issues at stake change every election. Even the recurring issues evolve and grow more complex, to the point where a basic education, no matter how good, is no longer adequate (even the best Civics course in the 1970s probably didn’t mention an issue like Internet privacy). More importantly, even smart adults forget stuff from high school and college that they don’t use on a regular basis. People forget the complexities of American politics for the same reason they forget the quadratic equation and the components of a cell: Remembering all that shit is hard and rarely necessary.

Many proponents of democracy acknowledge this gap in expertise and insist that this is why we elect representatives: “Of course the voting public can’t be expected to follow each issue closely. This is why we don’t have mob rule, or direct democracy. Instead, we add representatives to solve the problem. Elected representatives can put in the time and energy to be informed about complex issues, allowing the voting the public to use its time more productively.”

This is one of the worst arguments I’ve ever heard intelligent people make.* For one, it implies that elected representatives are more knowledgeable and informed about issues than the voting public, something I’m not entirely convinced about.** More importantly, though, adding a layer of separation does not change the issue. If voters aren’t qualified to make decisions about government, then what makes them qualified to choose the leaders who do make those decisions? Put another way, what are they supposed to base their choice of candidates on if not knowledge about the issues at stake?

*Most of the others have to do with religion.

**A good point raised by Josh: It’s probably not the case that politicians are, on the whole, as ignorant about issues as the public, but the need to appeal to the median voter in order to win elections means that candidates have to constantly present themselves as less informed than they actually are. Nevertheless, this certainly has the effect of making policies that appeal to and can be easily presented to the median voter, as well as ultimately allowing candidates who are genuinely stupid a chance to showcase idiocy as a political virtue.

This brings us to the candidates themselves and the other form of preparation voters get for an election, namely the various campaign slogans, speeches, publicity stunts, and other acts of electioneering detritus that make up a political race. These are probably what motivate the voting habits of most people: the various things said by and about the various candidates during the campaign. This, though, hardly makes for an objective and rationally informed populace—it’s sort of like saying that all the information you need for purchasing an automobile can be found in ads for GM and Ford. Political campaigns are essentially marketing campaigns—they follow the same logic and employ the same principles of persuasion. They rely on slogans, celebrity endorsements, and negative attacks.

One of the biggest drawbacks to electing representatives is that doing so invalidates the only viable argument for democracy, which is its supposed ability to represent the views of the people. As I’ve tried to make clear, I don’t think the feelings of the majority should have any real influence on government policy, but this is nevertheless the appeal of the democratic process. Almost every argument in favor of democracy essentially boils down to the system’s ability to represent the views of, if not the entire populace, then at least a majority or plurality. In fact, though, the existence of representatives replaces choices of policy with choices of people. An election between candidates reduces all the issues and tasks of government down to a choice of one person or another,* which essentially hides voters’ preferences about the issues themselves.

*And, in a two-party system, you’re usually only picking one out of a choice of two.

In other words, what does the 2008 election of Barack Obama say about the will of the American people? All it really says is that more voters wanted Obama to be president than wanted John McCain. It doesn’t say why it feels this way—whether it was because of the promise of more progressive legislation, or a reaction to the Bush Administration, or fear about Sarah Palin, or a general fondness for Obama’s speaking abilities, etc. It was probably all of these things to some extent, but the election couldn’t possibly indicate the public’s feelings about health care reform, or financial regulation, or terrorism—all it was good for was determining a winner. In order for democracies to truly do what they purport to do, though, the “why” has to matter. And yet a representative democracy makes the reasoning of voters not only insignificant, but also invisible. This is why the platitudes about voting being your chance to make your voice heard are so pathetic and hollow.

Instead of making the voices of voters heard, voting actually completely marginalizes the voices of individuals. In a democracy, the individual is reduced to part of a mass, either the populace or the voting bloc. A voter who supports Obama because of his tax plan and a voter who supports Obama because of his foreign policy are effectively identical. Further, a voter who supports a candidate for well-thought out reasons that can be articulated and supported by evidence is effectively equated with a voter who supports a candidate for completely irrational reasons or false facts. In other words, voting doesn’t make the voices of voters heard so much as it reduces all individuals to a simple and meaningless voice yelling the name of one candidate or another.

This is, essentially, why democracy would still be philosophically unsound even if it were better at selecting candidates. Plato called democracy a form of government built on “dispensing a sort of equality to equals and unequals alike.” At its most basic level, his use of “unequal” merely refers to the way democracy reduces the various opinions and sentiments of its citizens to a mass of identical votes, which is itself troubling. On another level, though, Plato is using “unequal” to refer to an unmistakable hierarchy of opinions and voices within the citizenry.

It is here that the argument admittedly gets a bit elitist, but it really shouldn’t be controversial to suggest that some peoples opinions and judgments are more relevant than others’. A sick patient does not trust everyone’s opinion equally—he would trust a doctor, because the doctor is the authority. The philosophy behind democracy, however, insists that large numbers of people that I don’t know and, in many cases, don’t respect have authority over my system of government merely because they happen to live in the same county, city, state, or country as I do. If you can’t readily assent to this principle, then you don’t support democracy.

Allow me to illustrate via a hypothetical: Suppose a large part of the country wakes up tomorrow and decides free speech is a terrible idea. Suppose enough people think this that two-thirds of Congress proposes, and three-fourths of the states ratify an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that repeals the First Amendment, or at least the parts having to do with free speech. Following this, several states pass laws against certain types of speech, like outlawing certain racial slurs, criticisms of elected officials, curse words and obscenities, etc. Would you accept the will of your fellow citizens and abide the draconian laws they had imposed on you? Does the fact that a lot of people changed their minds mean that free speech is no longer an “inalienable right”?

This hypothetical may be highly unlikely, but it is theoretically possible in a democracy (even a democratic republic like the U.S. in which there are some checks on the democracy’s power). This is because the philosophy behind democracy believes that authority is derived from the voting public. If, however, you believe that the mutual agreement of your neighbors is not the highest authority there is, then you don’t endorse democracy.

The Argument against Voting

The argument against voting seems like it should follow logically from the argument against democracy. After all, if an institution is illegitimate, then we shouldn’t support or endorse it, and voting is obviously a tacit endorsement of the democratic process.

This is probably why there is so much propaganda that suggests all voting, of any kind, is a glorious civic act. Slogans like “Get out the vote” and “Vote or die” make it a point not to advocate for any specific candidates or positions. Nothing strikes me as more illogical that urging people to just vote, without regard to who or what they might vote for. I don’t agree with voting for any reason, but I can at least respect the desire to win—that makes sense to me. But why is voting a good thing in and of itself? Even if you believe in democracy, voting is clearly an instrumental activity—you do it to achieve an end, not as something that should be enjoyed for its own sake.

The only reason to hype voting for its own sake is because voting is in fact an endorsement of the democratic process. Valuing voting for its own sake helps to further the myth that a vote counts as something besides a point for a candidate. Of course, this is untrue for the reasons already espoused: Nobody knows why you cast your vote except you, so there is no sense in which your “voice” has been heard. All your vote can do is help elect a candidate.

What if, however, this is fine with you? What if you have no illusions about having your opinions represented in government, but you firmly believe that one candidate is much better suited for the position and you want that candidate to win? You think the election might be close and, and that even if the odds of your vote “mattering” are extremely low* it is still worth your time to vote. You don’t believe in the democratic process, but you still have a preference and you don’t care that you might be “tacitly endorsing” a corrupt system. After all, it’s not like a “tacit condemnation” by not voting would keep any politicians up at night, or even be read as anything but forgetfulness. Why shouldn’t you vote in that case?

*As they assuredly are: The odds of your vote actually being decisive in an election are lower than your odds of winning the lottery.

This is a much harder argument to make, but it essentially boils down to the role of government itself. A government is not a set of policies or a specific group of people in charge—these are temporary features of a government, but not the same as the government itself. Rather a government is the system of determining which people are in charge and, by extension, the policies they enact.

What this means, though, is that if a government has a legitimate authority, then it doesn’t cease to have it once its leaders or policies change. In other words, the laws still apply to you even if the guy you vote for loses. Basically, you can’t only play by the rules when they work out in your favor. If you did, the rules wouldn’t retain any legitimacy, and would therefore serve no function. Entering into a system of government is akin to agreeing to abide by the rules even when the outcome may not seem beneficial.

How, though, does one “enter into a system of government”? By merely being born in its geographical bounds? By paying taxes? By taking advantage of the services provided by the government? Well, standards may vary, but it’s hard to imagine any standard that does not count direct participation in the governmental system as “entering into” it. By this logic, then, a vote in an election is not simply a statement of preference, but an agreement to abide by the result of the election’s outcome. It would, after all, be ethically dubious to vote without such an implied agreement, since on the one hand you are expecting your vote to have authority over others while not respecting their reciprocal authority on you.

Beyond the ethical implications, though, are more practical concerns about the way votes legitimate governments. As previously stated, the odds of your vote mattering in the sense of being decisive are essentially nonexistent, but the odds of your vote “mattering” in another sense are quite high. That is, the more votes cast, the more candidates can claim to be representing the populace and, therefore, the greater the apparent “legitimacy” of their rule.* And, of course, the more “legitimate” a victory appears, the more emboldened the victorious candidate is to exercise his authority—an authority that is, ultimately, illegitimate and dangerous for reasons already enumerated.

*This is even true of votes for losing candidates since, A) a slim margin of victory has no impact at all on the actual power of an elected official and, B) winning an election in which a lot of votes are cast gives the appearance of a more energetic, hard-fought campaign, and thus makes the winner’s victory appear more substantive.

In other words, voting is not harmless and it is not insignificant, even if the odds of your vote being decisive are microscopic. A vote endorses an illegitimate system, obliges a voter to respect the election’s outcome no matter how much he or she might disagree with it, and gives elected officials a sense of unearned legitimacy. If you’re going to vote, then, you’d ought to be a firm believer in democracy (and if you are, see Part I…).

Alternatives

The main objection I hear when I offer my anti-democracy views is that my opinions are purely negative, and that I don’t produce a viable alternative. People usually quote something along the lines of Winston Churchill’s famous dictum that, “Democracy is the worst form of government, except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.” This is pithy, but it hardly makes for an attitude that is conducive to progress. It’s just this kind of reactionary logic that justifies any status quo.

Democracy is hopelessly flawed and the mere fact that nobody has thought of anything better yet shouldn’t keep us resigned to its inefficiencies. The principal problem with democracy is that same problem that plagues all forms of government: It empowers the wrong people to make decisions.

It is, however, pointless to propose any theoretical government that would eradicate a democracy’s flaws. Such a course would be doomed for two reasons: First, if the French Revolution taught us anything, it’s that you can’t construct political systems from scratch. It’s not like we can just radically eliminate every institution of American government that relies on voting—such a system would eradicate two of the three branches of government, and some of the third. Even if such a thing could be feasibly done, the consequences would probably not be desirable.

Secondly, such a proposal would be a purely academic exercise—it would offer no practical, short-term solutions to the problems facing society today. The main reason people do vote, other than the rampant propaganda that portrays voting as an inherently virtuous act, is to have some impact on political issues. Proposing a radically new system of government as the only solution would imply that the only way a citizen can have such an impact is through revolution—and we saw how well that works out.

The only real alternative is to gradually reduce the impact of voting and elections. This is obviously easier to say than to do, but there are some ways that social issues can be dealt with that forego the democratic process. Whether that means solving problems by using the judiciary, small community organization,* global charities, economic activism, or even private enterprise. When problems are addressed through other means, there is less of a need for a democratically-elected government to act.

*People have asked me how I feel about democracy on a local level, and my feelings are the same, but I suppose it must change on a hyper-local level. Consider, for example, the decision to see a movie with a group of friends. If there is no consensus movie, then we might leave the decision to a vote. The democratic process is tolerable in such situations because, presumably, all your friends are pre-screened, and you know their tastes in movies. This is why voting in amongst the members of a board of directors, or a newspaper’s masthead, or a judiciary bench, etc. is tolerable—the voters have all been selected for their judgment in the area being voted on.

One thing that certainly does not reduce the impact of voting and elections, though, is voting. Voting only furthers our reliance on democratic processes and emboldens elected officials to exercise the authority a vote endows them with. Even votes for losing candidates legitimate the entire process, which ultimately benefits the winners. So if you voted yesterday, make the 2010 elections be your last. Because no matter who wins, we all lose.

About these ads

15 responses to this post.

  1. On this, check out my blog, the “Anti-Democracy Agenda”:

    http://www.anti-democracy.com

    Cheers

    Reply

  2. Posted by Zale on November 3, 2010 at 7:58 PM

    Aren’t you being a bit hypocritical? How does one vote, which represents such a small portion of all voters, (so much so that it has no chance of deciding the outcome) give more legitimacy to the election. You can’t really have it both ways. There would only be less legitimacy in an election if a large number of people didn’t vote. But a large number of votes can also decide an election.

    Besides this it is a well-reasoned and very intriguing argument, and I don’t disagree that not voting does not preclude you from the right to complain about morons in government.

    Reply

  3. Posted by Douglas on November 5, 2010 at 5:41 PM

    I’ve made this counter before, and I’m pretty sure how you would answer, but just to clarify:

    What if I view the illegitimacy of voting as one of the issues in the election? Or not on par with the importance of present election issues? Consider this far-fetched but illustrative example, granting the following:

    1. Politicians are considering repealing the Bill of Rights in an effort to “revive the old South”.
    2. I am black.
    3. A black candidate promises to oppose this effort with every measure at his disposal. (So let’s assume he won’t break that promise…)

    Now I agree with you about the illegitimacy of democracy. Heck, democracy is about to put me back on the plantation. (Did I just say “heck”? Maybe I’m not black…) I could abstain from voting so as not to legitimate the system, but I’d rather sell out and protect my personal freedom. If this seems too far-fetched, consider that this type of reasoning, if under less dire circumstances, probably did influence many black people who voted for Obama. It was a HUGE deal for many black people to see a black person at the top of a system that had for so long oppressed them, and that positive outcome, so great in their eyes, might have outweighed what they could see as your largely academic concerns (again, I’m not stereotyping, just setting up a plausibility).

    Naturally, there are a number of minor squabbles with my hypothetical: a promise from a candidate doesn’t mean anything (see, in fact: Obama), my vote most likely won’t make a difference, etc, but if you won’t grant those conditions you could probably make the necessary adjustments to my hypothetical so that it boils down, again, to philosophy versus short-sighted pragmatism. And philosophically, by voting against Jim Crow revivalists, I’m still doing what you describe, and there remain other ways of fighting such injustices than endorsing a corrupt system; it’s still wrong. But am I doing ‘a” wrong thing in order to do “the” right thing? Is there any motivation to vote that could outweigh the fundamental negatives you mention? And I’m not seeking a loophole which can then, through a range of subjectivites, be expanded to unravel your argument…if such a loophole exists it would be up to you to define it cautiously enough that your central argument wouldn’t be vulnerable. I’m just wondering if you would concede ANY hypothetical vote (excluding hyperlocal votes) as philosophically justifiable, and how you would distinguish the motivations behind them from various reasons people today might be tempted to cite?

    Reply

    • Posted by John S on November 5, 2010 at 6:21 PM

      Well, this is kind of the argument I was trying to respond to in Part II–pragmatism vs. philosophical soundness. The problem with your example is that the likelihood of your vote altering the outcome of the election is extraordinarily small. This isn’t really a “minor squabble” with your hypothetical, since the whole essence of your argument is the practical importance of voting, when in reality your vote has virtually no practical importance.

      You might argue, however, that there are some policies where the magnitude outweighs this improbability. In other words, even the odds of your vote being influential are miniscule, it’s still worth it because the harm that would result from losing is so great.

      The problem with this is that, as I said in the post, casting a vote really obliges you to abide by the outcome. You can’t engage in the system and then opt out when things don’t work in your favor. So even if you voted against this old South plan, the fact that you voted at all would oblige to abide it if it did indeed pass.

      Reply

  4. […] Rasmussen Polls were during the campaigns. Oh, and Buzz Bissinger was clearly responding to John’s argument with this […]

    Reply

  5. Posted by james Schneider on November 8, 2010 at 6:50 PM

    My Euro teacher made a similar argument against complete democracy in class, in which he incorporated defenses of the constitution system.

    Reply

  6. Posted by Tim on November 11, 2010 at 8:17 PM

    John, a big part of your argument is that voting is bad because voters are irrational (and, in your terms, “terrible”). And then you go and expect to turn those irrational voters into rational non-voters? Please.

    Reply

  7. […] Onion basically sums up all the problems with democracy that John S tried to explain in his long post. Meanwhile, the evidence that democracy doesn’t work keeps on […]

    Reply

  8. […] Caplan also offers some thoughts on philosopher Jason Brennan’s The Ethics of Voting in which he argues that there is no duty to vote: John S is on board. […]

    Reply

  9. […] happens to be one I generally like, but that doesn’t make the process any less stupid. I told you voting was dumb…  Advertisement GA_googleAddAttr("AdOpt", "1"); GA_googleAddAttr("Origin", "other"); […]

    Reply

  10. Reblogged this on singlestreaming and commented:
    Now… lemme just say this… this is not realllly my position. But it does outline some ideas around the discussion. Thoughts?

    Reply

  11. Posted by Douglas on September 24, 2012 at 4:38 PM

    “The problem with this is that, as I said in the post, casting a vote really obliges you to abide by the outcome. You can’t engage in the system and then opt out when things don’t work in your favor. So even if you voted against this old South plan, the fact that you voted at all would oblige to abide it if it did indeed pass.”

    I’m wondering if maybe you’re operating with more deference to the democratic system than a more politically divested pragmatist would. In other words, I understand that the concept of voting binds you to the outcome, and that refusing to honor that is ethically dubious. But from the perspective of someone who doesn’t honor the government in the first place, and I don’t mean to be flip here, so what?

    Would you have told Dr. King and his supporters that because they voted (and I assume that they did in large numbers), their acts of civil disobedience were “ethically dubious”? And even if you did characterize them as such, the more relevant question is: Would you urge them to stop disobeying and to honor their implied commitment?

    I don’t mean to drift into Machiavellian territory, but if we see voting as a pragmatic manipulation of a system we neither accept or respect–a manipulation in service of what to us is a far more important philosophical issue, such as slavery or equal rights–then should a little rule infraction really stop us from pursuing our own ends through whatever means we see fit? (Okay, now I’m being flip.)

    I still concede that individual votes don’t matter. But can you imagine the NAACP (in the Jim Crow hypothetical from my earlier comment) saying the following to the black community: Don’t vote, because to vote without being willing to accept the consequences of defeat is ethically dubious. We’ll just maintain the moral high ground and deal with the racist laws once they’re all nice and ratified. It would seem that practically speaking, voting is at least worth a shot–even if you’re not doing it in good faith.

    As an aside, I only continue to comment after several years because of my respect for this argument. That it took me two years to come up with what may yet prove to be an unworthy attempt at criticism is a testament to your thoroughness.

    Reply

    • Posted by John S on October 4, 2012 at 9:11 PM

      I think your points are particularly relevant re: the coming election, as they reflect a general misunderstanding about the philosophy behind voting. There are, admittedly, two main reasons to vote, call them the Symbolic or Ethical reason, and the Practical/Consequential reason. They Symbolic reason is purely to “do your part” or “express your voice” and participate in the democratic process. It should go without saying why I’m against this reason, since the entire premise is dependent on supporting the current system.

      On the other hand, you seem to be referring to the Consequential reason, or the motives of a “politically divested pragmatist.” It’s even an extreme version of that, because you suggest the prospective voter doesn’t even plan to abide by the outcome if he loses. He’s not acting in good faith, but so what?

      The practical problem with this argument specifically – and my issue with Consequentialist ethics in general – is that it assumes your act is decisive. With voting, that is absolutely not the case. In fact, the odds of your voting deciding the outcome are incredibly, almost infinitesimally small. For someone voting for Symbolic reasons, of course, this doesn’t matter. But for the politically divested pragmatist, it should be crucial. Your individual vote isn’t going to be of any consequence, so how can it be justified on consequentialist terms?

      Furthermore, there are consequences you can be CERTAIN of. Specifically, your vote, no matter who it’s for, legitimates the process of voting. Elected leaders and other voters will look at that vote and see it as an example of the system “working.” Also, even if your vote IS decisive, you can never really be sure what an elected leader will do. There are millions of people who voted for Obama without realizing he was going to expand the drone war, etc.

      Finally, regarding your point about the NAACP and Jim Crow, it probably sounds heartless, but I do actually think that. In fact, part of what persuaded me against voting was hearing how gay activists in California compared against Prop 8. It seemed, frankly, humiliating and degrading to make them go door-to-door asking neighbors to vote against it, as if they were asking permission to live their lives. So, yes, my advice to them would be to stop wasting your time trying to convince other people to accept your lifestyle and just live it.

      Reply

  12. […] time for my biennial plea for you to abstain from voting. I’ve got my work cut out for me: As election season (mercifully) draws to an end, we’ve […]

    Reply

  13. Posted by Gagan Narula on November 6, 2012 at 6:34 PM

    Hi,
    I was looking for a post supporting my arguments against voting (and most of them are essentially shared with yours) and I’ve come across a few points, going through your article, that I’d like to discuss:

    1) What is your view on corporate corruption? The questions stems from the dire need to identify and rout this malignancy from all forms of government (a special case of which is the Indian Government – mine). Corruption of governmental processes by external agents (Lobbying or directly, through bribe or political contribution) is a difficult cycle to break, given that the agents involved have both arisen from the same voting population. From the perspective of an average and rational voter who wants to make his/her decision not only on the agendas of the candidates, but also based on a prediction of their performance in office, the “choice” of candidates seems more like a dilemma does it not? Again, this is worse for a country like India, where trust for any single candidate is quite low, but I assume this is now a major issue in American politics as well (vis a vis Citizens United).

    2) “Many proponents of democracy acknowledge this gap in expertise and insist that this is why we elect representatives…”

    Regarding the expertise issue, I have been considering some solutions to local government for a while now, which I’d like to share with you. We know apriori, that an educated and rational voting population cannot be manipulated by false facts and negative advertising (and false promises, although that would require a way to predict candidate performance: a tougher, more algorithmic task). Then there is the question of expertise. Basically, there remains a gap in education which the average voter in almost any country cannot address, because of the expertise required in acquiring a broad and yet, almost exhaustive knowledge of the current political scenario, actual candidate agendas and future policies etc.

    Would it not be ideal to create bodies of local government that inform their constituents of these very things? Experts could initially come from academia, but the process of adding individuals to these bodies could be opened to the public through examinations… of course, in an ideal condition, this “expert committee” should be extremely well-informed and objective in disseminating results of their research, but the examinations could easily mobilize the youth, and in an age where almost every piece of information is available on the internet, looking up and sharing things should not be a hard task.

    (i also have a more theoretical opinion on some components of modern government, but we can discuss that at a later date).

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 110 other followers

%d bloggers like this: