You can be an informed voter or you can sleep.

LZ Granderson believes that the present government is so bad because of uninformed voters. His basic point is right, though he puts this idea across in harsh terms–the real problem is not that voters are “stupid” or “lazy”, but that they haven’t the time to thoroughly research and consider the relevant issues. Even experts in one particular area will have, at best, a passing knowledge of the others.

Theoretically, you can get around this by having experts from all fields tell people what to do, but that won’t work if different experts give different answers, or if people are led to believe, rightly or no, that experts are unreliable.

It is true, as J.E. Sawyer has observed on his blog, that the problem of political ignorance is at its most curable in history, and yet many people still do not avail themselves of this cure. This is understandable. Do you want to research whether we ought to have an ethanol tariff or watch football when you come home from work?

So, how to fix this problem?

One way is to radically increase the difficulty of voting. Make it so that people must pass tests in order to register. The problem with this system is that it will almost certainly be systematically biased in favor of some groups and against other groups. Whoever is put in charge of creating the test would see to it.

Any other solutions?

UPDATE: Thingy says in the comments:

“Wow, really? Make it so hard that the poor schlub who never caught a break, never finished school for whatever reason, but loves his country as much as the educated elite, they should have to prove themselves? I think it should be made easier.”

My fault. I think I phrased it poorly, because my intent was to convey exactly this; that if such a system were implemented it would be unfair towards some people, which defeats the original  purpose of Democracy. The idea I am getting at is that you are damned if you do allow easy voting, because then even the idiots who support insane policies can vote, or else you are damned if you restrict voting, because then whole groups of unfortunate people, as described by Thingy, cannot vote.

Well, clearly, the best answer is giving all adults the right to vote combined with a good education. But is that possible? I would certainly like to think so, but my fear is that it might not always be, not at all because they are “stupid”, as Granderson thinks, but because of the lack of time.

I mean, take me for instance. I know so little about foreign policy that I have no business whatsoever voting for who ought to be the Commander-in-Chief. Now, I hold very strong opinions on these matters, but I can’t claim to be anywhere close to an expert, and while I’m just one voter, I fear that I am not too far below average. But, naturally, I would be quite upset if I were barred from voting.

But, to return to the original point, my proposed “solution” above was more sarcasm than anything else. I didn’t mean to suggest it is a better system at all.

2 Comments

  1. Wow, really? Make it so hard that the poor schlub who never caught a break, never finished school for whatever reason, but loves his country as much as the educated elite, they should have to prove themselves?I think it should be made easier.

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