A Political Argument that Nobody Wants to Hear

My fellow educated Americans -- 

This is not working. Our leaders make bad decisions. We blame them and we replace them with people who make still bad decisions. What's their problem? Are they selfish? Are they idiots? Are they just not listening to us? Are they so out of touch with "the American people" that they get sucked into doing only what the leaders of their party tell them to do? Will it all be fixed if we just replace those party leaders too?

And what about lobbying? Are we selfish for trying to demand the resources we need from the people who have the power to give them to us? Or should we back away and give them the space to make objective decisions on our behalf without our direct influence?

The problem, clearly, is that the people in power make decisions we don't like. If WE were politicians, we would make smart decisions. We would have logical debates instead of talking-point ping-pong. We would tell the press what we're thinking and doing rather than what the American people can supposedly handle. We may not always be right at first, but we would listen to the opposing arguments, weigh all the options, and come to a reasonable conclusion. We would not yell in the middle of congressional meetings. We would answer questions put to us.

And soon we would be fired. Our precious American people would kick us out of office, because the majority of them would be adamantly against at least one thing we had said or done. Of course, we needn't have told them those things they didn't like, but it would be dishonest and out of character for us to have hidden it from them.

So, evidently, the problem doesn't start with the people in power, but with the people electing them. The American people have expectations, and they elect the people who best meet them all. They want to hear certain things, and they don't want to hear other things. They have opinions about what should be done, and they elect the people who advocate the same opinion. But it isn't working. So maybe the politicians' stated opinions, and thus, the people's opinions, are wrong. And what's more, maybe their opinions are inherently flawed because the reasoning they use to come by them is illogical. 

WHAT?! I know. No one wants to hear that. "How can you say that? Who are YOU to say that the majority of people are always wrong?" I'm sorry. I'm an intelligent American who is not afraid to sound like an a**hole. But just for good measure, let's ease into this with a nice analogy.

Let's say you're a parent. You and your educated spouse have 8 children, all under the age of 18. Some are in high school, most aren't. And let's say you need to make an important financial decision for the good of everyone in the family. A democratic family-wide vote is clearly not the best option.

It's not because your children aren't good people, or that they don't mean the best for the family. But what they think is the best solution is based entirely on their understanding of the problem, and their experience solving similar problems. Most of your kids are uneducated and inexperienced, and most likely are not going to make the best decision.

And what's more, if you rely on a democratic solution to the problem, you open up the doors for persuasion. Your 6-year-old son, who firmly believes that the best solution is to ignore the problem and go to Disney World for a month, has the right and incentive to persuade his siblings to agree with him. Since many of them are equally unaware of the magnitude of the problem, or any useful method of solving it, they're likely to agree with Timmy about going to Disney World, because that's one thing they know for SURE that they want very much.

You and your spouse, in order to do what you know is right for the family, would have to convince at least 4 of your 8 children to vote against going to Disney World for a month, even though they know that that option is within their reach.

The answer is obvious-- You and your spouse alone should decide what's best for the family, because you're the adults. You're the oldest, most experienced, and most educated. Maybe if one or two of your children are old enough and responsible enough, you might give them a chance to weigh in. But ultimately the decision has to be made by people who have knowledge of the problem. And that's what's wrong with America.

Most Americans over the age of 25 have a high school diploma, something like 80% at last count, and that's promising. But it would be more promising if high schools were necessarily good, and diplomas were necessarily worth a damn. Only half of the voting population have any college experience whatsoever, and only about 27% actually got their first degree. 

I'm not saying that college degree equals intelligence, but statistically it's a decent indicator. Even if half the population had college degrees, democracy would still be an incredibly inefficient option. Our country is facing big big problems, and we have some extremely important decisions to make. (And the rest of the world isn't on easy street either! They need us too.) We need intelligent people to be the ones making these decisions. And I would LOVE to believe that we elect only intelligent people to do just that, but we don't. Because the majority rules, and the majority is both uneducated and easily influenced by things other than reason.

So, I hate to break it to you, America, but we have to educate your children. We have to continue the long and arduous and expensive journey of making good education available to everyone. EVERYONE! Either that, or we have to give up democracy. And that's an argument nobody wants to hear.

The End

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