Trump leads — is it a perversion of democracy?

Donald Trump leads – just – in the polls and there is some panic. The RCP poll of polls shows Trump leading Clinton for the first time by just 0.2 percentage points (43.4 to 43.2).

Trump leads 22nd May 2016

Trump leads 22nd May 2016

But this support for Trump is not reflected in the US media. Overwhelmingly – and I would guess over 90% – of the main stream media are contemptuous of Trump. The liberal media is filled with anti-Trump vitriol. (These attacks are counter productive and I have written elsewhere of how Trump and the anti-establishment wave he is riding feed on these attacks). The consensus even among my friends – who do reflect the media – is that a Trump victory would be a catastrophe for the US and the world. Trump supporters are considered fools or worse. They are supposed to be the racists and the rednecks and all the stupid and “angry” people.

The US media attacks on Trump show a hint of panic (especially the liberal-left media). They are still missing the point that attacking Trump increases his support. It is only by adopting an anti-establishment stance that some of this support could be siphoned away.

Suppose Trump does win the election. Will the media and the establishment accept the “verdict of the people”? Will they still be extolling the virtues of democracy and universal suffrage where the stupid have as much of a vote as the intelligent? I suspect that Trump will not be as bad a President as people fear. But if he wins, it will be because of the inherently, perverse nature of democracy.

The basic problem is that “universal suffrage” with an “equal vote” for everyone is fundamentally unjust.

……. it is mere existence as an individual that suffices to have an “equal vote”. And if everyone has the vote it is assumed that “democracy” has been attained – as if it were some sort of state of grace.  The only real criterion is that of age, even if some countries still have some other criteria in force. The merit of the individual is irrelevant. Votes can and are bought by promises or by free meals or by money or by a bus-ride. A “bought” or coerced vote weighs as heavy as one that is freely given. (There is nothing wrong in buying or selling votes – the flaw lies in that the seller has a vote equal to that of free elector). A fool has the same vote as a wise man. A large tax contributor is equated to a small tax contributor. Government servants paid for by taxes have the same weight of vote as the tax payers. Priests and politicians have the vote. The behaviour of an individual does not affect his vote. Experience, intelligence, wisdom, competence or criminality are all considered equally irrelevant. A majority vote is considered to be the “will of the people” where “constitutions” are supposed to prevent excesses against minorities. But constitutions are subject to the same majority vote. One hundred and one idiots take precedence over one hundred wiser men. And we inevitably get the politicians that universal suffrage deserves. This democracy and its universal suffrage needs also to be tempered by merit. But meritocracy smacks of elitism and no self-respecting socialist could tolerate that.

Universal Suffrage which ignores merit has led to the Lowest Common Factor becoming what counts and not the Highest Common Multiple that is being sought. And that was not, I think , what Lincoln intended.

Perhaps what is needed is a differential vote. Every one would have a basic vote but extra fractions of a vote could be earned for merit – for intelligence, for service, for wealth creation, … . It is probably time for “democracy” to shift towards a “meritocracy”.


 

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