The term democracy indicates a form of government where all the state’s decisions are exercised directly or indirectly by a majority of its citizenry through a fair elective process.
Although it sounds a rosy idea, democracy makes two very big assumptions:
- The majority of the people are correct and smart enough to choose a direction for a country.
- That the candidates to be elected are qualified to become leaders.
Let us look at point #1 first. As you might yourself guess the majority of people in any state are usually of below average intelligence. For example, lets look at academics which serves as a good example since testing of subjects (in this case, students) is done frequently to determine who is better. Now if you’ve been to any type of school, you will know that a handful of people in each class are the true cream of the crop and truly understand the subject matter being taught. Although they are not superior to others in the class in terms of anything outside the material being taught, they can be legitimately considered superior in the context of the subject. The class distribution will perhaps be a bell curve or something a little more skewed, either way, there will be only a few who will truly grasp the material.
Let us ask a question to the people of a state, any state. Something to the effect of, “Who is your country’s leading trade partner?” or “What is your country’s most abundant natural resource?”. Granted these are not giveaway questions but they are questions that somebody who will be deciding the future of the government might want to know. Am I being unreasonable in specifying such requirements? I don’t think so. A person deciding a leader should have feelings and knowledge about more than one issue. For example, it is not right for a person to vote for Candidate A just because they agree with them on Issue A. What about Issue B, C, D…. This is a very general example I know. But the point is that the average citizen will not have the time or motivation to actually research Issues A to Z and actually form an informed opinion. Despite of this glaring oversight their vote will count just the same as somebody who knows all the issues from front to back. Although the former may not be “stupid”, he is not well informed and thus their vote is most likely not the best choice.
Now let’s take a look at point #2. In most countries, the process of selecting candidates is fairly general. There are parties and parties have members and members declare themselves to be a party’s leader as voted by the party members. What this process generally ignores are the people who are truly qualified to be leaders but may or may not be in politics or might not be registered members of a party. You might be a very successful businessman with full understandings of international trade but your expertise will be going to waste when it comes to helping your country make business decisions. You might be an effective union leader but your negotiation skills will not be used by the government because they already appointed a politician to be the Minister of Trade.
The point attempted to being made in the above paragraph is that the current political process ignores many qualified candidates from helping a country simply because they are not politicians. For example, I’m sure you know people in your life that – if you actually thought about – might make excellent leaders or advisers. However, since they are not in politics, their expertise is wasted in terms of the government.
The obvious response to my argument is that if those people actually deserved an office, they should have run for it using the road-map provided. However, my argument is that an intelligent person might not necessarily want to be part of politics and therefore will never pursue such a course. It is the governments duty to recruit such people into the inner circle for the betterment of the government. A case where this actually did happen is the Iraq Study Group Report where both political and non-political experts gathered to create a recommendation for the Iraq problem. Whether the government chooses to ignore this is a different story, but at least we have options created by well-informed people.
Now imagine, if instead of following the Iraq Study Group Report, the US decided that they would have an election and decide what to do with Iraq. It would be absurd since this is a specialized case which requires specialists and we all know that the general public is not a specialist at anything. Isn’t this example a microcosm of what should be happening and applicable to the selection of the government too?
The survival and prosperity of great empires of the past such as the British, Mughals or Ottomans did not rely on a democratic process but ensured that those that were special or gifted in their political, economic or other talents be required to contribute to the government. They did not appoint leaders chosen by the general public beyond a provincial level for the sole reason that the direction of a government be dictated by those with knowledge, expertise and a vision, not by someone who won a popularity contest.