You’ve probably seen video clips online of reporters / vloggers hanging around Polling Places during an election asking voters basic questions like “which party controls the Senate?”, “Name 3 Congressmen”, “Where is Ukraine?”, etc. Don’t know if he still does it, but Jay Leno used to have a segment called Jaywalk where he would go out and ask people on the street seemingly important / basic questions about History, Politics, Science, and Education. (Is he even on the air anymore? You can probably tell I don’t watch much TV.) The point to all this is to highlight how really clueless people can be. And though I’m sure there’s a lot of screening that goes into producing these video clips and they’re hardly representative of the general population, when someone posts one of these online, the inevitable result is some political party or candidate fanatic saying “SEE! The other party / candidate’s supporters are really dumb! WE are the smart and informed ones. Thus, our political agenda is more legitimate.”
I won’t blame one side of the aisle over the other. I’m sure if you spend 30 seconds on Google or YouTube, you could find hundreds of clips, from every angle, supporting / arguing against every agenda known to man. And obviously, this only applies to places where democratically-elected government officials are put in power. In North Korea, for example, it’s amazing that Kim Jong Un gets not just 100% of the vote, but there’s also a 100% participation rate in each election (maybe it has to do with the fact that there’s only one candidate and that voting is mandatory).
Makes me wonder . . . do ‘informed’ voters produce better electoral results? If everyone had perfect knowledge of, for example, geography, would that give you more faith in the majority rule? (Yes, I understand the difference between a democracy and a Republic. Stay on course here, true believers.) If every voter had perfect information about history, religion, science, voting records, candidate ‘dirty laundry’, spending / receipts history (both legal and shady), extramarital affairs . . .
Is our political dissent a matter of imperfect information / education?
This is where your worldview will largely shape your response. If you believe, as I do, that all men are born with a sinful nature and that absolute power (in the hands of men) will corrupt absolutely – then you probably think our political differences are more a result of our human nature and not lack of information.
Now, many think people are born neutral or innocent, that morality is a fluid, man-made construct, and so they put some faith behind enough people getting together and doing the right thing. Wonder if you folks have ever watched infants playing together. Even at a very young age, they have a sense of right and wrong without any training. Another topic for another time.
If you went to grade school in the US, we’ve all been taught about Checks and Balances in a democratically-elected Republic — the division of power between the 3 branches of our government (I’ve always enjoyed the Schoolhouse Rock version of the 3 Ring Circus), State’s Rights vs. the Fed, and how the voice of the people undergirds it all.
Similarly, in this clip, Prof. Munger from Duke University states that a democratic constitution has 2 purposes – 1) defining the limits of what we can decide on collectively and 2) laying out the process by which we will decide.
So here’s my question.
What happens when people use the second part of Prof. Munger’s Democratic Constitution (the process) to change the first (the domain)?
The fact that our system of Checks and Balances is still, in the end, a system based on coercion and the use of law / courts to strip people of their rights, leads me to set my targets on the root-cause rather than the peripheral flash fires.
I believe our current system of government is not fiscally sound because it’s not designed to be. How often do you hear voters harping on cutting spending / the budget, so long as their pet projects / programs are not impacted?
I believe 50.1% of the popular vote hardly constitutes a mandate to slash our liberties, steal our property, imprison our sons and daughters due to the subjective distain for one vice over another, and send us to die in overseas battles.
I was thinking about this topic when I came across Texas95‘s post “Democracy? No! James Madison explains“. I’ll admit, I probably shared his opinion of the problem and solution for most of my life. But with age and reading, I’ve come to the realization that it’s not education or information that has failed us. It’s a fundamental flaw in the design of the system and our human nature.
So where does that leave us? As I’ve shared previously, I don’t have a defined plan to organize society. Rather, I have a set of moral principles by which I will live my life.
- I don’t want to tell you what you can or can’t do.Please do the same for me.
- I don’t want anything that’s been stolen from you, and in return, don’t steal from me.
- I don’t have to agree with everything you have to say, but I’ll fight for your right to say it.
- If you come to harm me, I will defend myself and my family.
- If you and I agree to an exchange, it’s no one’s business but ours.
Rollo McFloogle shared this video clip of Michael Huemer’s “The Irrationality of Politics” talk on Tedx. I don’t agree 100% with Huemer’s conclusions, but he certainly makes some good points about challenging your political beliefs every now and then. My hope is that more people will do just that and think about embracing Liberty more and more each day.