English 12mo El Eyon
November 20, 2014
Are we living a lie?
“In a democracy the poor will have more power than the rich, because there are more of them, and will of the majority is supreme” -Aristotle
Americans believe in the idea of democracy. We fight wars in its name and daily pledge allegiance to its principles and yet most of us find ourselves cursing our politics and politicians in a warped sense of contentment. How interesting that we should so dislike the process that we claim to revere. Perhaps, however, our unhappiness with politics points to something significant; perhaps Americans dislike the daily reality of their political system precisely because it falls short of being a proper democracy. It was Abraham Lincoln that once said “The government of the people, by the people and for the people”; this brings forth a question- Is that really what we have? Democracy “is, by definition, a system of government in which all eligible citizens are meant to participate equally to decide over the laws the whole state /society is ruled by” (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/democracy). It is a government ruled solely and completely by the people in which every individual must have a say in everything that affects their life. Unfortunately, although this reasoning might sound enlightening in its perfection- after all, most people want their opinion to be of general importance to some extent-, it falls short in our everyday life. While democracy today appears to be the most popular choice when it comes to choosing a form of government it is in our responsibility to learn of all its faults no matter how complete we perceive it to be. Here’s a thought though, maybe Democracy doesn’t actually work; It’s just a figment of what we’re indoctrinated to believe is true. Democracy is actually all a lie. One of the foundations of democracy is the assumption that all votes are equal. Well, that’s the theory—but in fact it is rarely so. It assumes that all opinions are worth the same, which is quite a big leap of faith, since we are putting the same value on the opinions of the educated and the ignorant, and the law-abiding citizens and crooks. Even if you think that all people are created equal, it is obvious that their environments are very different—and as a result, so is their character. By assuming that all opinions are equal you are also assuming that most people are able to reach a rational, informed decision after seriously exploring all pros and cons.
Voting sounds legitimately effective in a political structure, but the way it’s being used in America is not attuned to what a democracy demands. While in voting the opinion of the majority shines through, the few are left to wither away in reluctant acceptance of something they can’t change or influence. This foundation is also an effect of the populist mentality and will therefore not constitute to the wisest decision. Many candidates to political office resort to populism, pursuing policies that focus on the immediate satisfaction of whims instead of long-term improvements. Populist leaders focus on emotion before reason, and “common sense” over more academic wisdom, which often produces ideas that will be defended, regardless of whether they are good or bad. Generally speaking, the majority elects their leader through emotion before reason, opting to follow the feel and personal view of a person before looking at what their offering or how they’ll affect the economical standing of the nation. Above all, in a democracy, the act of choosing a side and maintaining it is very dangerous because it will make you vote “for your team” instead of voting according to issues that should be resolved. That means that whoever leads “your team” can rest assured that they have your vote, and instead of focusing on your interests, they can proceed to deal with their own.
This leads us to corruption, something that we have no control over. This is not