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News Democracy just doesn't work

  1. Apr 16, 2004 #1
    Democracy just doesn't work!!

    Okay, this may just be a gripe but I think it does need some discussion.

    As most of you may kno, South Africa had their 3rd democratic election on 14 April 2004. The elections were EXTREMELY well run and were, as I see it, Free and Fair. Results are still coming in but in seems the ruling ANC will get more than a 2/3 majority in parliament-an increase in support.

    My problem doesn't lie with this though - actually I am a member of the ANC so I'm quite happy. My problem is with the concept of democracy and the "one person, one vote" (provided they're over 18 that is). WHY??? I just can't get why this system is employed.

    The reasoning behind this is simple. By employing democracy, it says that evrybody has a say in who should lead the country. The problem is that this implies that everybody does know whats best for the country and understands politics. This, of course, is untrue and proof lies in the fact that while discussing the elections with some people, some people indicated that they voted for one of the minor parties "just for fun" because they really didn't know who else to vote for. Also, as a party member, I was stationed in a polling station as an observer. What I did see was some people coming in (elderly) who didn't even know where the voting booth was. I know this mmay sound prejudiced but what legitimacy does a country have if a large percentage of the electorate is "illiterate" in the sense that politics is as clear to them as a book written in Latin.

    My suggestion (as it would be apt to provide a solution albeit a rather simplistic one) is that qualified voting MUST be implemented whereby a person must qualify as intellectualy apt in order to cast a vote. This, I know, is drastic but in order to combat this "apathy" as such, maybe such drastic measures are necessary.

    To end - I have to say that I believe in dictatorships as such where a bunch of qualified intellectuals run a country! But, in the real-world,I know this is impossible because of corruption and stuff but one can dream... :biggrin:
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 16, 2004 #2
    Actually I recall the best political system to ancient Greekd was the rule by a wise man, and democracy came second. The problem is of course how do we know if someone is the wise (and therefore presumably incorrigible)?
  4. Apr 16, 2004 #3
    Saying democracy doesn't work, and then offering a theoretical alternative that is 'better' doesn't really prove....well anything.
  5. Apr 16, 2004 #4

    WHo is a QUALIFIED INTELLECTUAL? One is well educated? One who is old?

    What is the goal of the government? Is it doign what is the greatest good for the country, or is it doing what is the greatest good for every individual?
  6. Apr 16, 2004 #5
    And who will decide who is qualified to vote? The party currently in power? Hmm, that's "convenient" and... what's the word I'm looking for here... DUMB! What about the parties that wish to cater to those not-so-educated people, so their condition can improve? They would never get any votes because their voters are not "qualified" enough.

    Just say you want a dictatorship and that's it.
  7. Apr 16, 2004 #6


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    Actually the democracy in ancient Athens workd by drafting citizens off the street to serve in the council for a year (I think it was). Nobody could serve twice. So you got amateur governmant but no political class. I think it's the existence of a class of professional politicians that is the weak point of democracy.
  8. Apr 16, 2004 #7
    You can look at it this way: If people don't care about politics and their right to vote this is a sign that they are well and satisfied with their government/parliament (at least they, not necessarily the whole society). And that's what democracy is all about. Of course, it's somewhat arrogant to act this way, because people have suffered and died in the past for today's people have the right to vote - and in South Africa, "past" means only a dozen years ago! But this does not disqualify democracy.
  9. Apr 16, 2004 #8
    Democracy works!

    Maybe you should first take a look to this:

    A modern democracy implies certain rights for citizens:

    right to elect government through free and fair elections
    freedom of speech
    the rule of law
    human rights.
    freedom of assembly
    freedom from discrimination

    I think most of European countries fit in granting these.

    An additional thing is that a democracy will have this attitude also against other countries. Now seeing the neglition of equal human rights for Palestinians (i.e. refuse to return, annexations, ...) by the Bush/Sharon tandem, the unilateral agression/attack on Iraq by US (against International Law and UN will), the refusal of rights to the Guantanamo prisoners, the Patriot Act, the disrespect for Islam, etc ... USA is not longer a real democratic state.
  10. Apr 16, 2004 #9

    Beautiful spin!

    According to you, if a country does something outside of it's borders that does not fall in place with democracy, the country inside it's borders is no longer a democracy?? Does this also extend to dealing with and supporting countries that are not democracies?? Well, goodbye to your assertion that ANY country in the world is a democracy - or are we just going to pick and choose which actions meet the criteria???

    Freedom of speech you say??? Where is freedom of speech guaranteed in many, if any, of the European constitutions(if they are even lucky enough to have one)?? It's not in England! It's not in France! Is it in Belgium's?? An assumed right is not a right until it is made the highest written law in the land.

    Democracy deals with a set of principals inside a community, not the interaction of that community with another, so stop creating defintions.

    Next, the Iraq war still has yet to be PROVEN to be illegal under international law. Oh yeah, that's right, it hasn't gone to any court outside of that of public opinion - not a legal conviction in a democracy anyways. And if you consider it as illegal, and you take that to mean that a democracy doesn't exist, then how long do such events hold that stigma?? For, I can name a list a mile long where all of the ACTUAL empires (France, England, Spain) would not qualify to be democracies under your criteria. Then there's germany - not a democracy???

    Neglition of human rights by the Bush/Sharon tandem? Perhaps Europe or the Arab world could stand up and start brokering a peace deal, since it appears that we are the only ones giving it any sort of real crack!

    Guantanamo is a situation that should not be in place IMO, but again, this does not make or break a democracy.

    Please, explain to me how the patriot act makes us suddenly no longer a democracy. If you can do that, you should come be a lawyer here, for no lawyer yet has been able to prove that to the supreme court using the very democratic ideals you say we suddenly do not have.

    Disrespect for Islam? I see! Forger France banning headscarves! It's the US who is disrespecting muslims!

    We are the world's oldest practicing democracy. Your assertions on the other hand are hardly anything concrete.
  11. Apr 16, 2004 #10


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    Democracy works well in some countries, not so well in others. In a country where there are two diametrically opposed sides like in South Africa (or Iraq for that matter), friction between the two sides can prevent democracy from functioning. Most western countries don't have this problem, and I'm really not sure how to fix it other than international intervention.
  12. Apr 16, 2004 #11
    You want to combat apathy by making it harder for people to vote? If someone was boarderline apathetic, they might go out and vote, but if they have to take some long test, just so they can take time out of their day to vote, they likely won't.
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2004
  13. Apr 16, 2004 #12


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    --- and, of every other form of government. How do we get rid of them?
  14. Apr 16, 2004 #13
    We could start a violent revolution and install someone with no political background into important office, making all of our decisions, then randomly overthrow him and put someone else into power. This way, no one ever knows if they'll be in a position of power, and we just keep choosing those who have no idea what they're doing.
  15. Apr 17, 2004 #14
    Thanks a lot for your input guys!

    Thanks, also to pelastration for the link!

    Anyway - I kinda get what most of you are saying but i think I din't clarify one point which is causing problems: Why does a vote by a person who has no political knowledge count the same amount as a person who is just voting for "fun".

    An important thing to consider is that these people are not necessarily happy with the govt. and in most cases, if the topic of politics is brought up, they would tell the govt. of for not providing free education, anti-retrovirals and jobs. (I could argue these points but its not topic relevant.) granted, these may be problems BUT this is not the only dimension of politics.

    Again, I'm digressing a bit BUT what I'm trying to point out is this basic flaw in democracy. It doesn't seem right that "unqualified" people are able to make a decision (ie. vote) on a topic they know basically nothing about. It's like deciding to build a nuclear weapon and asking a your vet to do all the calculations and building of it.
  16. Apr 17, 2004 #15
    Political knowledge is relative.
    It's the PERSONAL right to vote that is important. Every individual needs to have the freedom to have a small influence in changing the politic structure.
    It has nothing to do with IQ level or individual logic, nor with his/here motives.
    When someone is happy or unhappy because:
    - there is a new road next his house,
    - he/she loves the face of a politician
    - he/she made a fortune
    - he/she is a personal friend of the president
    - his brother was killed
    - his kid died from Aids
    are ALL personal motives. You nor I may tell others that their motives are stupid, not relevant, to simple ....
    Their motives are secret.
  17. Apr 17, 2004 #16
    This still runs into a problem pointed out by others above...how do you decide who is politically knowledgeable? People in power are going to end up making that decision...and their decision, even if made honestly, is still going to be biased towards people who support them. So this form of government will become rather static; people in power will be followed by others with the same ideology, since obviously if you were qualified you would believe in the same things as the other "qualified" people.

    A more effective solution is to try and get "uneducated" or "unqualified" people more involved in the system, and to educate and qualify them. That doesn't always work in practice of course, but I don't seem how simply stripping all power from those people is going to work better.
  18. Apr 18, 2004 #17


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    First things first. Shahil, are you a communist? Your avatar makes a bold statement.

    I think Shahil is sort of right though, people should know at least something about the country before being able to have a say. About 2 years ago, I read a national geographic article online that was about 1000 people who answered a bunch of questions. This was done in 10 countries. I still remember some of the weird results. Only about 82% of Americans could find their country on an unmarked world map even though it's a huge country. Around 60% of Americans do not know how many people are their country. About 10% of Americans thought the population of the US was 2 billion, one third of the world. Over 50% of Americans were unable to locate Russia (biggest country in the world) on an unmarked world map.
    It seems unlikely that a person who doesn't even know where their country is can have a positive influence on government.

    Althought stupid people can have good ideas, most of their ideas will get us in trouble since they don't understand the consequences of what they are doing. For example, have you ever heard what socialists say? It's unbelievable what they think. Socialists, typically uneducated lower class, tend to think that industry will stay in an area regardless of government policies and unions. To see how wrong the socialists were, have a look at Canada. In Canada, there are 10 provinces and 3 territories. Of those 13 areas, the only ones that actually have a positive net income are the ones with a non-socialist government.


    What if that vote had actually gone through and you lived in Aliso Viejo. Would you be happy knowing foam cups were banned because they were made using water?
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 20, 2017
  19. Apr 18, 2004 #18
    I don't disagree with the fact that stupid people voting is a bad thing. I just don't think that giving the government the ability to who should be able to vote is a better idea.

    It's just like the idea of having a brilliant, benevolent dictator. That probably would work better a democratic government. But how do you find such a person? You can't just base such a judgement on your own opinion. Any potential dictator who agrees with your worldview will seem brilliant and benevolent.

    Similarly, anyone who diagrees with your worldview "just doesn't get it". They're obviously unqualified to vote until they learn the proper way a country should be run.

    Opposing universal sufferage tends to break down to "the people who disagree with me are obviously idiots; why should they get to vote?"
  20. Apr 18, 2004 #19
    The person that can't find "Russia (biggest country in the world)" but needs to find a way to find food and or money to feed his/her family should be able to vote because s/he knows his/her world and how government affects his/her wallet. Geography what does s/he care? He only cares about feeding his/her family as he should unless you want to feed his/her family I don't.
  21. Apr 19, 2004 #20


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    Foreign relations directly affect the economy. Trade regulations and tariffs can have a big impact on entire industries. If Europe suddenly decided to put massive tariffs on goods coming from the US, don't you think that would affect US workers?

    If people elect some idiot who wants to create jobs but damages relations with major trading partners, would that really help the economy?
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