Saturday, 23 April 2011

Whither Democracy?

I'm currently ploughing my way through the writings of Tom Paine (The 18th century Radical - not this guy), and one thing strikes me; one of the problems with democracy is voters. The people who will support a particular party no matter what, or people who have insufficient reading skills to understand the issues. Those who vote for a specific candidate because they're told who to vote for. They all warp the process.

Paine appeared to believe in Rousseau's postulate of the 'Noble savage', and advocated the extension of voting to everyone over a given age. Which is where the major problem with Democracy lies. We humans aren't all equal. As I have probably posted before, only 15% of a given human population can be described as fully self aware all the time, and thus cognisant of the effects of their choices. Most people aren't. We do things like substitute behaviour response loops or opinions for thought, and often can't tell the difference. Democracy needs people capable of thinking clearly to work effectively.

Longrider had a bitch about a silly Grauniad posted proposal to give two votes to pregnant women, and I'm inclined to agree. So I posted the following comment;
I’m increasingly of the opinion that the franchise should only be extended to those who can pass a voter comprehension test. Say a simple paragraph and ten related questions, in English (Or the host language of your country), to be completed when you turn up to vote. You pass, your vote counts. You don’t, it doesn’t. Simple.

This way the opportunity to vote could be safely offered to 16 year olds who have sufficient comprehension skills to understand some of the issues.
Or of course be 'bovvered' to turn up to vote. This way those who want the franchise and are capable of participating can do so. Such a scheme may result in fewer votes actually counting, but there are advantages to that, too.

1 comment:

Angry Exile said...

It's another drawback with democracy, isn't it? Come to think of it, it also explains a lot about Australian politics. The desired effect of compulsory voting is presumably to make people think more about their government, but the actual effect is that millions will vote despite not having thought about it at all or caring about anything beyond avoiding the fine for not voting.

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