It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time. – Winston Churchill
, “What is democracy?
The New Yorker is asking, “Are the wrong people voting?”
The Telegraph: “Is democracy really the wellspring of liberty and freedom that we hold it to be?”
The New Yorker: “Why should anyone bother to vote?”
The chance that one vote will change the outcome of an election is virtually nil, and going to the polls involves a significant cost in time and opportunity.
Bryan Caplan, an economist who teaches at George Mason University, thinks that increasing voter participation is a bad thing.
He thinks, in fact, that the present level of voter participation—about fifty per cent of the electorate votes in Presidential elections, a much lower percentage than in most democracies, as Americans are frequently reminded—is a bad thing.
Bryan Caplan thinks that most voters are wrong about the issues…
“Democracy fails because it does what voters want.”
In polls taken since 1945, a majority of Americans have been unable to name a single branch of government, define the terms “liberal” and “conservative,” and explain what the Bill of Rights is.
More than two-thirds have reported that they do not know the substance of Roe v. Wade and what the Food and Drug Administration does.
Nearly half do not know that states have two senators and three-quarters do not know the length of a Senate term.
More than fifty per cent of Americans cannot name their congressman; forty per cent cannot name either of their senators.
Voters’ notions of government spending are wildly distorted: the public believes that foreign aid consumes twenty-four per cent of the federal budget, for example, though it actually consumes about one per cent.
People simply do not spend much time learning about political issues or thinking through their own positions. They may have opinions—if asked whether they are in favor of capital punishment or free-trade agreements, most people will give an answer—but the opinions are not based on information or derived from a coherent political philosophy.
The New Yorker reassuringly notes that “elections are decided by the ten per cent or so of the electorate who are informed and have coherent political views. In this theory, the votes of the uninformed cancel each other out, since their choices are effectively random: they are flipping a coin. So candidates pitch their appeals to the informed voters, who decide on the merits, and this makes the outcome of an election politically meaningful.”
From a professor of Greek History at the University of Cambridge, here’syou need to know about the roots of democracy in Athens, the worst system of government ever invented – except all the others.
Near the time America adopted her Constitution in 1787, Alexander Tyler, a Scottish history professor at the University of Edinburgh, had this to say about the fall of the Athenian Republic some 2,000 years earlier:
“A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government.”
“A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury.”
“From that moment on, the majority always vote for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal policy, which is always followed by a dictatorship.”
“The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations from the beginning of history, has been about 200 years. During those 200 years, those nations always progressed through the following sequence:
1. from bondage to spiritual faith;
2. from spiritual faith to great courage;
3. from courage to liberty;
4. from lib erty to abundance;
5. from abundance to complacency;
6. from complacency to apathy;
7. from apathy to dependence;
8. From dependence back into bondage.”