By Om Joshi
As the USA emerged the victor of the Cold War, the ideals of democracy had clawed their way into almost every nation in the world. Through control of major international organizations, the USA had gained a surplus of structural power, controlling a monopoly on ideas. The US utilized its monopoly to push the notion that in giving liberty to individuals and increasing the welfare of citizens, democracy is the most effective way of governing a nation. However, governments that rejected adopting democracy were initially scathingly scrutinized and then finally, through the aid of the CIA, replaced with parties holding a pro-Democratic stance. As such, through holding an arsenal of both structural and hard power, the doctrine of democracy was established by the USA and later propagated by its allies.
Through the prolonged active and constant propagation of the idea that democracy is inherently “good”, most individuals have come to believe that democracy is the ideal method of governance. Government policies which seek reduced voter participation are now globally scrutinized, whereas parties that pass legislation that increase citizen participation in the political process are more or less universally rejoiced (Gallup International, 2015) . However, in simply accepting that democracy is “good”, we have ignored the inherent problems that exist in a democratic system.
The main flaw of democracy rests in its biggest claim to fame: the notion of Popular Sovereignty. Drawing upon the works of Rousseau, Locke and Franklin, Popular Sovereignty states that the people are the ultimate authority and source of legitimacy of the government. However, it is through this tenet that the government must be formed by the consent and the choice of the people that demonstrates not only how outdated the idea of democracy is but also explains the root of most problems in nations. One must understand that democracy was founded more than 2,400 years ago, where the complexities of citizenship ended at taxes. Further, the economy was not sophisticated enough for the complex processes of imports and exports or even advanced enough to introduce basic financial tool (Clarke, 2006).
The political architecture was simple, there were no international organizations or economics unions, hence the average citizen was not required to understand the impact of interconnectedness on the nation’s economy. Given the above economic and political simplicity, the idea of individuals forming a government is plausible as the task did not require sophisticated analysis and understanding from the average citizen.
However, the economic and political architecture today is very different to what it was in the past. We have developed complex trade relations and dove into creation of financial derivatives that break the barrier of basic lending and borrowing which surpasses the understanding of the average citizen. Furthermore, given the rise of International Organizations and the plethora of legally binding treaties that exist with Regional Trade Unions, the average citizen must be aware of not only the complex working of their own nation, but must also have an understanding of the influence of external actors on the domestic policies. Hence, increasing the amount of information needed for the citizen to handle the task of forming a government. Unfortunately, the rising demands on citizens of accumulating knowledge in the economic and political field has not been met. For example, in a poll that measured the financial literacy of US citizens, it was found that the average American Household has “less than the required information required to be financially capable” (The Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, 2018).
Additionally, on the topic of political awareness, the average British citizen was either misinformed or completely unaware on the critical topics of immigration and unemployment. According to a poll by IPSOS MORI, the average citizen believed that 24% of the population were immigrants whereas the reality is that immigrants comprise only 11% of the population. More importantly, on the topic of unemployment, the average British citizen thought that the rate of unemployment had soared to 17%, but the actual rate of unemployment is 5%. Through these personal inflation of rates of unemployment and levels of immigration, the misinformed individuals develop a perfect breeding ground for political parties such as UKIP. In believing that the rates of unemployment are higher than they actually are, the people have accepted the argument that immigration is to be blamed for the increase in immigration and hence have opened the possibility of steering the nation in the wrong direction. As such, if the common individual is not aware about the building blocks of the economy, why must power lay in the hands of the incompetent?
To demonstrate the true horror of democracy, one simply has to analyze the causes of Brexit. In analyzing Brexit, similar arguments proposed above can be utilized. Since most British individuals were simply uneducated on the working of the EU or had insufficient knowledge about British politics, the result was the political chaos that followed after the Brexit vote. According to the Eurobarometer Survey, only 31% of the British individuals had the basic knowledge of the EU. Additionally, the majority of the respondents were not aware of the complex policy process of the EU. More than 50% of the respondents through that the UK had “no to little power” in the formulating of policies that are passed in the EU and more than 41% of the respondents did not understand the power of the European Parliament in gaining control of developing policies. As such, given that the majority of the British Citizens viewed the EU as dwindling the nation’s sovereignty, the ideals propagated by UKIP of “bringing back control” was accepted by the misinformed citizens, leading to majority of the citizens voting to leave the EU. Hence, despite every economist warning about the consequences of Brexit, due to the individuals who had developed their opinions based on misinformation, the nation is now headed towards the less optimal path of Brexit. Therefore, if the average citizen is not informed or misinformed about the complex economic and political processes that surround the nation, why should the citizens be in power to steer the country?
One must realize that the political and economic sphere has massively evolved and so should have our political systems. In simply complying with the Doctrine of Democracy, we are actively misguiding nations into executing irrational policies that act to dwindle the welfare of a nation. The idea of every citizen having a right to vote is no longer in the best interest of a nation or a society. If indeed a country wants to implement democracy, the voting rights must be based on a certain educational criteria and the voting procedure must be split into five Tier’s as listed below:
a. The Tier 1 Section:
Includes the voting on economic, financial and business laws or legislation wherein only voters with a University degree in the field of economics, finance or business are allowed to vote OR voters with 5 or more years of working experience in the above field.
b. The Tier 2 Section:
Includes the voting on social, environmental and community bills or laws. Voters with basic School Education and above are allowed to vote. However, individuals with a criminal conviction will not be allowed to vote.
c. The Tier 3 Section:
Includes the voting on external relations with foreign nations. Only citizens with a University education in the field of the Economics, Law, Politics, International Relations, International Business and International Finance will be permitted to vote OR citizens with more than 10 years of work experience in the above related fields will be permitted to vote.
d. The Tier 4 Section:
Includes the voting on technology and scientific discovery. Only individuals with a University education or higher in the fields of the natural sciences are allowed to vote OR individuals with 10 or more years of work experience in the above subject.
e. The Tier 5 Section:
Includes the voting on educational bills or reforms. This Tier is strictly restricted to individuals who have gained substantial level of competence in the educational sector which could be demonstrated by obtaining a PhD in the field of education and training. Furthermore, only individuals with extensive work experience in the educational sector will be permitted to vote in this Tier.
It is also important to highlight that the Tier 1, 3, 4 and 5 will have an overall weightage of 1.5 whereas the Tier 2 will have the voting weight of 1. As such, if an individual casts vote for a member of the X party, the value of the vote will be multiplied by 1.5 in the Tier 1, 3, 4 and 5 category. Hence, causing the results of any election to place higher weightage on the crucial elements of a society which rest upon education, science, economics and finance.
The above process will aid in filtering the citizens who are capable enough to handle the task of forming a Government given the specialization of the individuals. Therefore, this article has showcases how the Doctrine of Democracy came into being, why the Doctrine of Democracy has caused harm to nations through utilizing Brexit as an example and has illustrated a potential method in fixing the issues attached with the idea of Popular Sovereignty.
Om Joshi is a second year Politics and Economics student at the University of Surrey.