Does Democracy Really Deserve 3 Cheers?


Why do we give such enduring support to the form of democracy we have? There are many alternatives to the, what-to-me is, ludicrous idea that it is both ethical and wise to allow anyone who wishes to share power over life and death decisions to participate fully in our voting processes?

Did that last sentence startle you?  What startles me are the growing strength of voting patterns in Europe that reflect shared illiteracy, the results of the American primary system, data about the reasoning used by American voters in general, and decades of patiently listening to the reasoning of college students expalining why they are voting for a particular candidate. Each of these shouts to me that we should rethink Churchill’s claim that democracy (in any and all forms) with its flaws is superior to the alternatives.

First, democracy can exist in multiple forms. Multiple reifications of democratic political form are possible. All forms are not equally problematic. “One person-one vote” sounds so wonderful until one explores the quality of the assumptions undergirding that bromide.

Second, pointing out the dangers of modifying democracy is the beginning of a conversation, not a dispositive response to criticisms of democracy.

Third, I hope you will spend some time thinking about 2 articles from 2 quite different ideological perspectives, both of which are convinced that democracy badly needs some meds:

  1. We Must Weed Out Ignorant Americans.”
  2. “Democracy Versus Epistocracy.”

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