So just about everyone thinks they know what government ought to do, and thinks they ought to have the right to vote, if not on the issues, then at least on the people who will decide the issues.
But who's actually taken the time, amid the daily round of work, family concerns and entertainment, to study the relevant evidence on any major policy issue, thought the thing through and come to a defensible conclusion?
Who among the populace pays sufficiently close attention to political affairs to know what the vitally important policy issues are?
Government deals with many and complex questions. Doing what's best for the nation, if any government ever cared about that, is difficult. In fact it is so difficult that even a totally well-intentioned government may as often as not to get things wrong.
Which means that putting the average citizen in charge of public policy would be about as crazy as putting Hani Hanjour at the controls of a Boeing 757 and expecting him to perform high-speed aerobatics at ground level and at near super-sonic speed — which he did, so the ruling elite and the media they own are insistent that you believe.
So what exactly is this democracy that just about everyone is so enamored of that Americans, Canadians, Europeans, those petty dictators of the Gulf States, and the Saudi autocracy (where women are not allowed to drive and slavery is, or was until quite recently, legal) support endless wars to deliver the same wonderful system of government to the nations of North Africa, the Middle-East and Central Asia?
Well first off, as Mr. Average Joe might say, it gives everyone a say in the government.
Because everyone can vote for the candidate of their choice, i.e., a democrat or a Republican or some guaranteed third-party loser.
Which is to say, since the major parties when in power are virtually indistinguishable, everyone can have the warmonger and monied-interest-puppet of their own chosing?
So is there anything else that's so great about democracy?
Yes. The rulers have to suck-up to the plebs. Yer know, appear in public, shake thousands of hands, smile a lot.
But is that really sufficient reason for putting around half the GDP at the disposal of a bunch of bought psychopaths whose only concern for the masses is to keep them dumbed down, brainwashed and firmly in their place.
Prof. James Tracy has a good blog post explaining the way in which the media work to discredit independent though by the unacredited members of the populace. Received opinions as dispensed by the media are not open to question. Uppity proletarians who ask questions are dismissed as conspiracy theorists or, even more contemptible, "truthers," as recently demonstrated here (and here, and here, and here) in the case of those who questioned the pathetically incomplete and contradictory mainstream media reporting of the Sandy Hook Elementary School Massacre.
... several years ago Project Censored directors Peter Phillips and Mickey Huff identified and explained the “truth emergency” that is among the greatest threats to civil society and human existence. This crisis is manifest in flawed (or non-existent) investigations into 9/11 and other potential false flag events, fraudulent elections, and illegal wars vis-à-vis a corporate-controlled news media that fail to adequately inform the public on such matters. While neglecting or obscuring inquiry into such events and phenomena major media disparage independent and often uncredentialed researchers as “conspiracy theorists” or, more revealingly, “truthers.”Thus underlying our much vaunted democratic system, is a hidden elite, operating through the news, entertainments, and publishing industries that they own and the politicians whose elections they fund and whom they reward on departure from office, that tell the masses what to think, while deriding those who attempt to think for themselves, and outlawing the most persistent critics of the system as terrorists.
...as Leibniz observed, reason marks our humanity, suggesting a portion of the soul capable of a priori recognition of truth. With this in mind the modern individual in the mass has been rendered at least partially soulless through her everyday deferral to the powerfully persuasive notion and representation of expertise. However narrowly focused, under the guise of objectivity the institutionally-affiliated journalist, academic, bureaucrat, and corporate spokesperson have in many instances become the portals of reason through which the public is summoned to observe “truth.”
The rulers tell the people what to think and for whom to vote. The people vote as they are told.
That's not a democracy, it is oligarchy with no respect for, or shared interest with, the mass of humanity. It is a a soft tyranny that employs techniques of mind control and propaganda that greatly surpass those of the old-line dictatorships of Stalin and Hitler. There's nothing crude or blatant about it. Elections are not won with 99% of the vote as under the old Commie regimes. No, its always a tight race between elite-picked candidates without a difference.
Such a form of govenment has many evil consequences. Since the appearance of legitimacy requires only a voting plurality, the propaganda is chiefly directed at the young and innocent and the incorrigibly unteachable, i.e., the stupids, which leaves those with experience and a capacity for analysis and rational judgment essentially side-lined in the political process.
Such contempt for the thoughtful citizen promotes “conspiracy theory.” In turn, conspiracy theories drives much elite paranoia, which in turn generates a determination by the elite to achieve more direct control of thought and speech through domestic spying, promotion of political correctness and, in extreme cases, the designation of opponents as terrorists liable to extermination without due process.
Mass democracy has thus clearly been a mistake. A better system would grant a highly visible role in government to those who now exercise invisible power without responsibility by financing elections, providing after-office payoffs to politicians who have served their real masters, and by other means.
To that end, the Senate, to take the US as an example, might be replaced by a House of Plutocrats, comprising 100 individuals making the largest personal tax payments. Then the Rockefeller's, the Soros's, the Buffet's and the Gates's, and other more dynamic members of the money-making elite, would, assuming that they pay taxes, have to speak for the policies they impose on the nation and justify them in terms of the public interest.
Reform of the US House of Representatives would be more of a challenge, but a restriction of the voting franchise would be a prerequisite, which might reasonably be based on a tax payment threshold.
Many would howl at the denial of universal suffrage, but in America and every other capitalist society, upward mobility is open, at least theoretically, to everyone. To those born poor, the chance to become a member of the House of Plutocrats always exists. And at least the chance to earn enough to pay tax and thus earn the right to vote, would surely be real enough.
And to safeguard the interests of the masses, voting or otherwise, the Presidency could remain a popular contest, but subject to strict control and complete visibility of campaign finance.
Smoking Mirrors: The Gatekeepers and Vipers Among us