World politics is a hot topic again with the US presidential primaries appearing daily in the world press. As the rest of the world watches in bemusement at the successes of Donald Trump should we be asking ourselves what on earth is going on with Democracy? Should we just accept the way it is and will always be or can we be forward thinking and make change?
Growing up in the UK we are taught to believe that a democracy, ours being a Parliamentary monarchy, is the only way to fairly give power to the people. Although this may be true, it may not be the best thing for the country and the general population as a whole. Our views about the power of a democracy have been tainted by modern history which includes the victory in the world wars over dictatorships, the American’s strong fight over communism during the cold war and their general economic and military dominance over the rest of the world.
With all of the human tragedy that has been caused protecting our democratic freedoms, it’s no wonder we are defensive about it and resistant to change. The trouble with a democracy is the exact same reason that it’s great; everyone has a say.
Assuming a nation’s populous is made up of a majority of emotionally and mentally intelligent people educated in political difference then you’d expect them to make the best decision for themselves. The US population has a huge variance in education from its 14% that are illiterate (the UK isn’t much better) to the 1% that are considered some of the most intelligent people in the world. That combined with the massive power the US media has in influencing people with fear and propaganda, particularly encouraging islamophobia, makes the population look to vote for the likes of someone that could potentially fix their fears. The reality of course would be to seriously damage their country’s domestic and foreign social values. In the UK we are sadly seeing more extreme far-right groups becoming popular in politics with almost half of the London mayoral candidates in 2016 representing far-right groups.
So what’s the answer to these problems? It’s been suggested and controversially debated that there should be an intelligence test/test in knowledge that would cover very basic literacy, history and geopolitics. If the potential voter failed the test they would either not be allowed to vote or would have a reduced vote count.
Initially this sounds socially disruptive as a lack of education positively correlates to the wealth and background of the life someone is born into. Visions of an elitist voting population selfishly voting for candidates that provide them with even more wealth at the expense and suffering of others springs to mind.
On the other side of the argument how can you expect someone to vote in the best interests of their nation when they are illiterate, have poor to no understanding of the country and world they live in and do not understand the differences and implications in candidate’s policy manifestos. In no other walks of life do we empower people with such a large responsibility that does not match up with the relevant intelligence to support it. Lawyers bring in expert witnesses; companies hire people with the expertise needed to fulfil their roles and teachers teach children in the subject that they were once educated in.
Recently a plethora of the aforementioned US 1% including celebrities, academics and even some business people, made it clear that they would leave the country if Trump were to come into power. This would have the opposite effect and ostracise the elite! Whatever your stance on this matter, one thing is for sure. If ever someone with extreme views became the elected head of a powerful nation, the world would become a less stable place.
UPDATE 07/05/16: London just voted in Sadiq Khan as Mayor, the first Muslim to be voted as Mayor in a major Western city. Maybe there’s hope for us yet! I hope this has some influence in the US.