Monday, April 27, 2009

Oversimplifying a flaw

Revisiting Plato’s criticisms of democracy just reaffirms my stand that more ‘educated’ people (and not just literate) should vote. Democracy is built around equality, and no where is it more apparent than at the elections. Extreme equality. That’s what it is. And that is precisely one of the many reasons that democracy as a system is flawed. Not to mention its severe susceptibility to be deeply corruptible. No matter what your level of education (or lack of it thereof), your experience (or lack of it thereof), your opinions (or lack of it thereof), you just get one vote. I’m not trying to be elitist, but in the light of the critique that Plato made against democracy , the more-informed, the more-educated person’s vote should carry more weight than one without them. But equality is equality, and when it comes to voting, ain’t no one more equal than the other. It is at this point that the numbers come into play. Imagine there are 100 voters and three candidates. Candidate 1 and Candidate 2 belong to national parties with a clear agenda and vision, or at least some direction. Candidate 3 belongs to some local party fraught with corruption, with no vision but lots of notes. 48 people turn out to vote. Fifteen people vote for candidate 1. Fifteen for Candidate 2, making Candidate 3 a winner with 18 votes. So Candidate 3 is now declared the winner, gets to represent 100 people for 5 years and all because of empty rhetoric and votes for notes. Assuming that the great ‘educated’ masses will not put a price on their votes, and so even if 10 more ‘educated’ people had come out to vote, the result would have been different, and hopefully for the better.
Unfortunately, it is these great educated (and apathetic masses) who don’t come out to vote. And they are the ones who claim the greatest share in the benefits that democracy offers and the loudest to scream and shout and rail at the system given a fraction of a chance. Sad. Where’s that punishment clause for not voting when you need one?

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