You can’t let just anyone vote. What if they don’t know The Truth?


Which reminds me, did you know Kenan Malik is on Patreon now? Go show him some love.

Discussion (41)¬

  1. Matt says:

    Yep, the old saying needs turning on its head now. Beware the tyranny of the minority.

  2. Max T. Furr says:

    Actually, democracy is a flawed idea once you toss in a large, poorly educated (especially the fundamentalists) portion of the population who elects politicians who are a darker reflection of their base.

    Roughly 2,415 years ago, Plato, disillusioned with Athenian politics, opined that democracy was not a suitable political system for social justice.

    As he saw it, democracy brings about social injustice because ordinary people had no understanding of how the government should work (and the nature of political subterfuge), and as a consequence of their intellectual deficiency, they are easily deceived by the emotional rhetoric of self-serving politicians.

    Nothing has changed.

    Today, we have a large percentage of the population poorly educated, and their intellectual deficiency has been enhanced and harnessed by the emotional rhetoric of a robust propaganda network working 24/7 solely for the neoconservative ideal of an oligarchy–not for religion, but for themselves.

  3. Nassar+Ben+Houdja says:

    Another problem voting minions
    Is for a change they have opinions
    Those without degrees and letters
    Upset the utterances of their betters
    Making them in charge of their dominions.

  4. Videopoet says:

    Succinctly put Max.T.

  5. Videopoet says:

    Succinctly put, Max.T.

  6. Oozoid says:

    Thanks, Max, for pulling the wool from my eyes. I have long supposed that democracy would require politicians to educate the masses, but I see now how blind I have been. Life in a democracy is clearly easier for the ruling classes if the bulk of the electorate are impressionable and ignorant and superstitious. What incentive is there for a government to properly educate the people? Of the various forms of government, democracy still seems the best option. Can it be fixed? Is there a better way?

  7. Steeve says:

    Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others.
    Can’t claim it as original…

  8. K+P+Spong says:

    Dissolve the people, and elect another?

  9. ProgMan says:

    Steeve you are correct in that the quotation “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time”. Was uttered by Winston Churchill in 1947. In 1945 he had been rejected by the electorate.

    He was able to differentiate between various forms of government in this country but also had dealings with the extreme USSR dictatorship of the ahem ‘masses’. Therefore he was well placed to make his famous remark.

    Some peoples prefer the certitude of tyranny; look at Russia reverting to type.

  10. Max+T.+Furr says:

    @ Videopoet, thank you my friend.

    @ Oozoid, thank you my friend. A republic as we have (a constitutionally limited, representative democracy) can be fixed. I’m currently working on a post for my blog to that effect.

    Of course, as anyone with the brainpower of at least one joule above a sponge knows, we have to get the money out of politics (to include campaign advertising and propaganda–bring back the Fairness Doctrine as a law–and permanently close the government-corporate revolving door).

    Unfortunately, I don’t think that is possible because the vast majority of the population would have to demand of each candidate that he will make such a stand his first priority and act accordingly if elected. Until that is accomplished, we will never see a just nation. In fact, our Klepto-corporatocracy will become an oligarchy/plutocracy, and not too far in the future.

    @ Steeve, the Founders had a good idea, but didn’t go far enough. The Constitution does not forbid corporate electioneering and the purchase of politicians. Thus, we have a corrupt government. Get the money out and and all private monetary influence, and we just might be able to discover what the Founders intended–a just nation.

  11. Shaughn says:

    You don’t have to go back to Plato, whose idea of democracy did not involve women, slaves, young and poor. Only a wealthy male gerontocracy. Quite overrated, that greek ‘democracy’.

    Just go back to Alexis de Tocqueville and his warnings in ‘The democracy in America’ and see them neglected. The enemy of democracy is not poor education but large scale uniformity and loss of identity, involvement and engagement. Read Poppers plea for the open society and its piecemeal engineering instead of large scale development, which explains why De Tocquevilles warnings are to be taken serious.

    Apply Montesquieu’s trias politica and never trust but always check those in power. It is not power that corrupts (the popular magic thinking; the devil made me do it) but the corruptible that are attracted by power. And absolute power attracts the absolute corruptible.

    Neglect them and democracy will fail.

  12. M K Allen says:

    The only addition I have to what Max wrote is to add the influence of cash. While one can no longer directly buy votes, major corporations and “non-affiliated” PACS can and have pumped tens and hundreds of millions into campaigns. Unfortunately, the majority of the time the one who spent the most wins.

  13. Mark S. says:

    It’s more than a question of education. The state I live in (Maryland, USA) had a direct vote on the issue of same-sex marriage. Before the election, I spoke with a person I work with about it; he was against it because he has become some variety of hard core christian.

    I tried to explain to him that his responsibility is NOT to “vote for what he wants”, but to vote for what is best for society. I tried to explain that he should not use the power of the state to impose his religious views on others who were not part of his religion. I tried to explain to him that a gay couple getting married means nothing to his god because it is a civil marriage, not a religious marriage.

    He fully understood all my arguments, but in the end, he said “I get to vote about how I want the law to be, and that’s what I’m going to do”.

    He lost a lot of my respect over that issue. He genuinely comes off as a nice guy when religion is not involved, but I can’t forget that there is an undercurrent of religious dogma that he would impose on me if he could.

    Since he understood all the issues, it is clear that education is not a sufficient solution.

  14. Mark S. says:

    Max, the question of getting money out of politics comes down to something fairly simple to ask, but difficult to answer: How?

  15. I do see hope for democracy. We are seeing progressive ideas rise as more people engage in the discussion. Proof is the recent vote in Ireland. Who was it said you can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but not all of the people all of the time? I’m too lazy and toxic to Google it.

    Had a good time at the Imagine No Religion 5 conference this past weekend. Enjoyed being in the same room with the dude who invented the word “meme”, with Lawrence Krauss, Vyckie Garrison, Jerry Coyne, Carolyn Porco, Christopher DiCarlo, Robert Price, Maryam Namazie, Faisal Saeed Al Mutar, Dr. Harriet Hall, Ian Mitchell, Aron Ra, Matt Dillahunty, and Seth Andrews. What a lineup. It was good to see Jesus and Mo represented in at least one of the talks.

    I got my thirty year old copy of “The Blind Watchmaker” signed by its author, not that the signature is in any way recognizable. A minimal gesture by a guy who stated that he hates signing books. Professor Dawkins has a great boyish on stage persona, but in a crowd he’s no fun at all. I suspect he is very shy. Lawrence Krauss, on the other hand, went from table to table dispensing shots of Crown Royal, which somebody had given him and which he would not be able to take on the plane the next day. My kind of theoretical physicist and cosmologist.

    Okay, I overcame my toxicity and laziness. As I thought, the quote is attributed to Abraham Lincoln.

  16. two cents' worth says:

    J, ol’ buddy, Ireland isn’t the only place where people don’t like the message. See . For the situation in the USA today, see

    As Thomas Jefferson put it, “The cornerstone of democracy rests on the foundation of an educated electorate.” We should not be surprised when children that are taught to think for themselves become adults that do think for themselves 🙂 . This explains why groups that favor divine law over man-made law are against education. Boko Haram is a prime example–their very name means “western education is forbidden.”

    Oozoid, when Jefferson talked about an educated electorate, I think the teachers he had in mind were not politicians but historians, philosophers, and (perhaps) political scientists and others. The ruling classes–plutocrats, religious figures, business executives, etc.–will do their best to influence the education system so that students grow up to be voters who favor the interests of the ruling classes over their own interests. Ideally, other groups–labor leaders, civil rights workers, etc.–also do what they can to influence the education system, so that the students understand that the government has multiple constituencies that need to get along with each other. The politicians in a democratic system have a vested interest in the system because they got into power thanks to the voters. It is usually easier for them to stay in power by using the system in place and courting voters than by forcing the government to become something other than a democracy.

    I think that the founding fathers of the US chose a democratic republic form of government (which was much less democratic in its early years than it is now) because it was the least bad option they could think of. They included checks and balances to prevent any one branch of government from having too much power and to prevent the tyranny of the majority. I don’t know whether it didn’t occur to them to include checks and balances against gridlock and the tyranny of the minority (the situation we face now), or whether they did not consider these things to be problems. They did realize that circumstances change, so they included the means for amending the constitution.

    Government is a human construct. Humans are imperfect. It seems to me that, the larger the group of people being governed, the harder it is for the government to approach the ideal. I’m not a political scientist, but perhaps others in the pub are. What form of government is better than democracy? If democracy is still the best option, what forms of democracy are best?

  17. Max+T.+Furr says:

    @ Shaughn, I was not comparing Athenian democracy with present day version. My point was that what democracy they did have was flawed for the same reason ours is. Ignorance!

    In plato’s time, the liberal democrats believed that all men should have equal rights (sans women and slaves just like our system began), and the oligarchs did not want even all citizens of Athens (sans slaves and women) to have equal rights–and they sometime fought bloody battles over it.

    So far, we have not had the bloody battles.

    Still, we are currently we are evolving into an oligarchy courtesy of conservatism’s bond with Wall Street.

    Our own Constitution initially ignored the slavery issue as well as women’s rights.

  18. Max+T.+Furr says:

    @ Mark S, First, I do not know the level of education the man had. Secondly, judging a national issue on the arguments of one person (or even many) is a fallacious judgement. A person can be highly educated, but not in the humanities.

    This reminds me of when I was in college taking an intensive writing ethics course (loved those). One morning one of the students was complaining bitterly about having signed up for the course. He thought it was a total waste of time.

    I asked him if he was a business major, and he wondered how I guessed it.

    Another time, I entered the student lounge with my morning newspaper, placed the still folded paper on a table beside my books, and went to get some breakfast. When I returned, the paper was gone. Looking around, one student nearby pointed to another student a few tables away and told me he took it.

    I approached the student with the paper and asked if he took it from my table. He said he did, adding the obvious lie that he thought I was finished with it, and then he returned it to me.

    I asked him if he was a business major, and he, too, wanted to know how I guessed it.

    So, one can become quite educated, but not in the nature of justice, ethics/moral behavior, and their proper role in society. In other words, he had no personal integrity and apparently didn’t want any.

  19. Max+T.+Furr says:

    @ Mark S, As I mentioned in a previous response above, “Unfortunately, I don’t think [getting the money out of politics] is possible because the vast majority of the population would have to demand of each candidate that he will make such a stand his first priority and act accordingly if elected. Until that is accomplished, we will never see a just nation. In fact, our Klepto-corporatocracy will become an oligarchy/plutocracy, and not too far in the future.

  20. Shaughn says:

    [i] I tried to explain to him that his responsibility is NOT to “vote for what he wants”, but to vote for what is best for society. […] He fully understood all my arguments, but in the end, he said “I get to vote about how I want the law to be, and that’s what I’m going to do”. [/i]

    So? The law as he wants it to be is, to his judgement, the best for society. He did what you wanted him to do and I see no reason whatsoever to loose your respect for him.

    [i] My point was that what democracy they did have was flawed for the same reason ours is. Ignorance!

    In plato’s time, the liberal democrats

    So far, we have not had the bloody battles.[/i]
    Plato’s time did not know liberal democrats, nor anything comparable to modern time democracy. It’s a bit tricky to compare something imaginary ancient with present reality, don’t you think? That’s what religion is about, after all.
    You might say that any system is and will be flawed by ignorance. That’s such a general truism that it is practically meaningless.
    Re the lack of bloody battles, you seem to forget the French and American and Russian Revolutions, and quite a lot of liberation and decolonizing wars. All of them dedicated to get equal rights. The history of modern democracy, starting with Pico della Mirandola, is a very bloody one.

    Two cents’ worth,
    [i] I don’t know whether it didn’t occur to them to include checks and balances against gridlock and the tyranny of the minority [/i] But they did include them. That’s why the US of A is a federal state and not a centralized state, it’s why elections are kept local and why US firearms legislation is as it is. It’s exactly De Tocquevilles warning against the tyranny of a minority’ they acted upon even before De Tocqueville. Opinion and decision making should be performed at as many levels and platforms as possible, and at the lowest level as possible just to enable a clash of opinions. That is the only way to prevent tyranny of a minority. It’s all in ‘Democracy in America. since the 1830’s. The man was brilliant – and against democracy.

  21. two+cents'+worth says:

    Thanks, Shaughn! I’ll put De Tocqueville on my summer reading list.

    As you may have surmised, I’m of the generation in the US that got no formal education in civics. If you have any other suggestions for my reading list, I’d be happy to hear them.

  22. oldebabe says:

    Democracy in America ( De T) was just impressions of a Frenchman, as it could relate to anything in the French Revolution, after all, wasn’t it? I graduated from high school in 1948 – only after I’d passed a civics course!!! and I don’t remember having to read De T. So, I guess , two+cents, you were being sarcastic?

  23. Canneloni says:

    One of the major problems with Western democracies is that those standing for election are often the least suitable for the job – professional politicians! In reality, these people represent no-one but themselves, and are only in the business of making money, or worse, of gaining power over others.

    We should be selecting our representatives at random from the people, in much the same way as jury members are selected.

  24. two cents' worth says:

    oldebabe, I was being sincere. De Tocqueville’s point of view may have been affected by his knowledge of French history and his experience as a Frenchman, but I think that one of the reasons why his Democracy in America is valuable is that it’s an outsider’s view of American government. I figured that DiA is more for undergrad. or graduate students than grade school or high school students, but some of the points made in DiA may have been covered in grade school or high school civics courses. At any rate, I think DiA is worth a read.

    Canneloni, I like your idea of selecting representatives the way we select jurors. Instead of lawyers deciding which people end up on the jury (by deciding which ones they’ll reject), the voters could decide who ends up as their representatives (by deciding which candidates to reject). This method would also promote one of the values of the founding fathers: to avoid party politics. In addition, it could reduce the role of money in elections. How would the size of the candidate pool for a given office be determined? What would the process be for winnowing out candidates? If the candidate pool isn’t too large, voters might find this approach less distasteful than the current US system of primary and regular elections, so voter turnout might go up.

  25. two cents' worth says:

    O Author, thank you for cleaning up the italics in my comment above. That was very kind of you!

  26. Mark S. says:

    Max : My question about “getting money out of politics” is far more fundamental.

    Suppose I stand for election. I need to tell people about it. May I place a sign in front of my house? That costs money. May I pay for it myself? If yes, Romney has the advantage because he has a lot of money to buy a lot of signs.

    Can my neighbor buy the sign for me, because he thinks I am a good candidate? If yes, then I am accepting donations. There is the money in politics.

    Can my neighbor buy his own sign that favors me, without my involvement? That gets around limits on donations, because I never accepted a donation.

    Can my neighbor put up a sign that says he is for everything I am for, and against everything I am against, without ever naming me by name? That is an “issue ad”.

    It is a very complicated thing to regulate, especially if you want free speech.

  27. plainsuch says:

    So? The law as he wants it to be is, to his judgement, the best for society. He did what you wanted him to do and I see no reason whatsoever to loose your respect for him.
    Only if you assume that he wants the law to benefit society, that’s a silly assumption.
    e.g. The plutocrats wish for the law to be: “I get all the money and all the power – right now! Screw society”
    Or the Libertarians wish: “I don’t have to do anything for anyone else, but everybody else has to help protect my property.”

  28. plainsuch says:

    When US presidential candidate Romney was in charge of the Olympics, he funneled cash and contracts to companies that profited himself, as well as using Federal tax dollars to benefit the state run by the religion he is a Bishop in. I’ve always wondered why everyone believed he was more interested in winning the election than in pocketing a $100,000,000 or more, of that beautiful campaign cash. It flows so freely on election years, often in hidden or semi-legal channels, it would just be too easy to resist.
    At some point the excessive campaign costs must be counter-productive.

    What does the observable fact that victory often goes to the highest bidder/spender mean about the democratic process?

  29. Mark S. says:

    Shaughn : “So? The law as he wants it to be is, to his judgement, the best for society. He did what you wanted him to do and I see no reason whatsoever to loose your respect for him.”

    He lost my respect because of his incredibly poor choice. Same sex marriage has literally nothing to do with him. Yet he would use the power of the government to deny it to others because of his religion. He doesn’t care about the real effects it has on the lives of real people, as long as he can feel satisfied that he is following “god’s word”.

    I’m fine if his religion wants to impose rules on its own members. He is free to not marry another man. He is free to not wear poly/cotton blends. He is free to not eat pigs.

    But when he starts telling ME what I can do based on his religious book, he becomes my enemy. You know where this goes when the religious beliefs become too entrenched in government: You have religion wars. I don’t want to have to kill my friend, but if he wants to start a war over religion, I will be on the other side.

    The only way you can have freedom of speech and freedom of religion is if religion stays out of government. If the government acts based on religious beliefs, then you don’t have freedom of religion. If the government goes too far in establishing a religion, then you have to revoke freedom of speech for anyone who wants to challenge the religion.

    So, it is the responsibility of everyone, both religious and atheist, to acknowledge that there are other beliefs and try to stay out of their way. Atheists are actually pretty good about that. When you hear of a atheist-religious conflict, it is almost always about the religious trying to co-opt the power of government to promote the religion. The religious have to meet us half way, and stop trying to push their beliefs on us.

    There are the inevitable conflicts, like that religion that will let their children die instead of allowing a doctor to treat them. Should I allow that, in the name of religious freedom? It’s a hard question. But most of the conflicts are much easier to resolve if we all just step back a bit.

    It is hard for me to respect anybody who can’t understand that argument. And if you don’t agree, give me a counter-argument that makes sense. Describe a world where a religious person SHOULD vote to impose their religion on others, and what are the consequences?

  30. plainsuch says:

    Answering my own question. If the electorate is as corrupt as the politicians, just put public offices up for auction. Win or lose, all bidders pay their highest bid to the IRS to pay off public debt.

  31. wnanig says:

    “Only if you assume that he wants the law to benefit society, that’s a silly assumption.”

    I guess this has somewhat of the same problem that “the golden rule” (versions of “do to others what you would want them to do to you”) has. Someone who for example thinks that homosexuality is unnatural, would probably wish that others would “cure” them if they were “afflicted” with it. Just because we think they are wrong doesn’t mean they are not sincere. When someone says “screw society”, they probably mean the society others created that is not to their liking. It doesn’t mean there is no society that they would like (unless they really are anarchists). A lot of dictators seem to manage to delude themselves into thinking they are what is best for society and therefore in the best of worlds, they should have all the power. And if all else fails, they blame God.

    Do you have the right to be wrong? In that case – how wrong are you allowed to be? This cuts both ways. Who gets to decide what is right or are we assuming that there is an eternal truth? How do you avoid the tyranny of both the majority and the minority? It is not that easy from neither a philosophical nor a legal perspective, as laws ideally should be able to resist tides turning and opinions and values changing over time.

    Mark, to some extent I think the question is more why you get (and need) to vote about it in the first place. Once you have an election/referendum, according to democratic principles, you have the right to vote as you believe. My impression is that Shaughn is discussing this on a much more theoretical level and the larger question is how do you construct societies and constitutions where it is next to impossible for anyone to be a tyrant to others. Laws would have to be able to survive the next depression, the next world-war, the climate changes and the next pandemic. When people get desperate you see opinions emerging you would normally never expect. If we learn anything from Germany just before WW2 it’s that a democracy as such is no guarantee against getting a dictator. A good constitution can at least slow the process down, but what is required to keep it from happening entirely?

    Read an article about bee research recently. Apparently the queen does not decide where to move when the time comes. A number of scouts fly in all directions. Those who are most enthusiastic when they get back get the other scouts to fly to their favourite locations and a decision is made when all scouts agree on a location. Still largely being flock animals on a genetic level we may have something to learn from the society forming ones.

  32. plainsuch says:

    Voting spreads out the decision making power. Why do all significant(1) members of society need to have a share of the power and money? Because having power makes it easier to get more power, having money makes it easier to get more money. If these positive feedbacks are not regulated the system oscillates between Somalia style anarchy and Soviet style tyranny.

    (1) The Magna Carta considered nobles to be significant, the original Constitution included white male landowners, the Originalist Activists Judges include corporations, etc. Whatever.

  33. JohnM says:

    This seemed fairly relevant to the current discussion. Chris Hedges’ thoughts on activist groups appear to be somewhat correct, judging by the successes of online organisations like Avaaz, Care2 and 38degrees (UK-based). But when we see Amnesty Intl. free Raif Badawi from the clutches of the House of Saud we’ll know for sure that “they” are frightened of “us”

  34. two cents' worth says:

    JohnM, thanks for introducing me to Chris Hedges! His examples of the power of movements reminded me of another example, when “people power” got the Marcos couple out of power in the Philipines and made Corazon Aquino president.

    In the video you referenced, Hedges talks about how Americans–including the intelligentsia–were persuaded by emotional arguments to support WWI. Were there any attempts to use emotional arguments to dissuade Americans from supporting that war? When the side of power and privilege uses emotional arguments to further its own ends, what emotional arguments can the side of justice and truth use to rebut them and to persuade people to follow a better path?

    It seems to me that it’s relatively easy to find works by historians on how movements achieve change, but can anyone recommend works on how the gains that movements have made are preserved or lost?

  35. white+squirrel says:

    Government of any sort is a deeply flawed idea, albeit a necessary evil.

  36. 2maik7 says:

    Great that they approved it but it never should have been up for a vote to begin with.

    Direct democracy is a terrible concept and creates a tyranny of the majority. There are certain fundamental rights that should be guaranteed by law and never should be voted on. It’s the reason we have a Bill of Rights, along with the need to keep government from infringing on the rights of the individual. Thankfully, it was demanded in order to ratify the Constitution.

  37. wnanig says:

    Mark S, “the question of getting money out of politics comes down to something fairly simple to ask, but difficult to answer: How?”

    If you can’t get the money out of politics you might try getting the voters away from the money. For one, making sure there is easy access to more unbiased information (independent journalism) and trying to steer them towards it instead of succumbing to commercials ranging from idiotic truisms to slandering the opponents. Perhaps also getting help from outside perspectives provided by foreign correspondents.

    The information revolution and globalisation – possibly the section of future history books describing our time? If the prognosis that about half the jobs in many Western countries will get automated within the next two decades holds true, the middle class might effectively disappear, since it is the high-end and low-end jobs that are the hardest to automate. At the same time financing journalism with subscriptions is getting harder, advertisers thereby cause the domain of the politically correct to shrink, companies like Facebook are making attempts at channelling the news flow entirely through their portal and corporations generally try to get as much of a monopoly as possible, while governments are setting up frameworks for restricting access to information in the name of the war on terrorism (or porn). The internet is already a battleground in the information war, with countries like Russia actively trying to wage a “hybrid war” employing troll armies to sway public opinion in European countries (rather clumsily so far, but the election ads are not that much more intelligent and that apparently works…). How do we make sure we can maintain an independent press with journalistic integrity? Preferably a reasonably sizeable one to contribute to the constant checking of those in power that Shaughn was mentioning. And how do we keep the internet as open as possible avoiding for it to turn into what a journalist described as “a shiny shopping mall with a half-illegal basement where you go at your own risk”.

  38. 3handles says:

    Brilliant, Author, as usual.

    I’ve been a lurker for a while around the C&B, but have been too intimidated by the displays of erudition, wit – and occasional heroic idiocy – to actually join the conversation. Well, and I’m often too busy and stuck on computers that won’t play with websites.

    Just thought on the topic of democracy some of the pub regulars might enjoy a little tale of contemporary irony. Currently working in the magic Kingdom somewhere south of the crappy bits of land over which old and new religious groups seemingly will fight for ever or until there’s nothing left, for reasons that have less and less to do with anything I can offer any sympathy about.

    Anyway, said magic kingdom is, don’t you know, a bastion of democracy! It appears that lovely children’s international school here is being threatened with closure by the authorities, because the trustees were not elected through the “proper” democratic process as set out by the Ministry. I have so far resisted the temptation to suggest that the proper process might be for the head to marry most of his cousins and have enough sons to ensure that they can occupy all the relevant roles in perpetuity… Apparently though, an election may be needed, unless we can persuade Mo to come back and show them how wrong it would be. I’m thinking of standing, and wondered if I could hold a pre-election hustings in the pub? Barmaid, any chance?

  39. Shaughn says:

    two+cents’+worth ,
    Re your summer reading list, I still owe you an answer: may I suggest Machiavelli’s The prince (and for prince, read King, dictator, president, CEO etc.). But have an annotated and introduced copy of it for historical references and comments. The same goes for Montesquieus ‘l’esprit de loi,’ The spirit of law. Another one: “The lessons of this century” Karl Oopper interviewed by Giancarlo Bossetti – (Routledge). Popper expresses among other things a view on democracy and what he considers a fallacy: that democracy is ruling by the people. It is not and that is why it is so often disappointing. Essentially it is, he argues, as systen in which peoples can periodically change their government without bloodshed. Every election is, or should be in his view, a judgement on past achievements and less a choice for future promises.
    Another one for the reading list is Pico della Mirandola, ‘On human dignity’. In that thesis he matches free will to gods will and human dignity. Briefly: god wants a free will so men have a choice between growth to a higher state of humanity or remaining at ‘animal’ level. It legitimated nobility (worldly and clerical) who were considered higher humans’ to mingle with civil richess (who were per choice (ahem, money) of higher humanity). It expanded the circle of participants in power and in the development of democracy expanded by likewise reasoning about the next of circle and incorporating them.

    Your civics course and its reading list is not the measure of all things, and for high school education De T is hardly suitable, if only for its 2 volume size.
    Of course he related what he saw to the French Revolution, having lost a part of his relatives there and having experienced what that ‘democracy’ has led to. To his amazement, he found that in the US the evil powers of democracy were counterbalanced and his analysis of that checked and balanced system is the core of his work.

    Plainsuch, re your comment on june 12, 4:27 pm:
    One of the basic assumptions of democracy is that everyone, every individual, wants the law to fit his wants and needs (see Montesquieu: L’esprit de loi) and that in due course these wants and needs will average out to the best for society as a whole. Therefore De T’s plurality and pluriformity of opinion and decision making is a necessity: to facilitate the averaging out into a public opinion that in the end decides on the law to be.

    Mark S,
    Thank you for clarification as to why you lost respect. But I think that an intellectual poor decision or opinion or choice is the fate of all of us, at least once in a lifetime and to the judgement of another – so none of us should deserve any respect from anyone. I doubt your neighbour lost his respect for you, then why treat him worse? In my more or less humble opinion, it would be worse when he were not honestly sincere. From his point of view probably, he is saving all of us, including you and me, from the eternal wrath of his god… which I can respect though not agree to and so you will find me at your side in the trenches.

  40. two cents' worth says:

    Thanks, Shaughn! Those books should keep me busy for a while 🙂 .

  41. Ed+Haines says:

    Democracy is, indeed, a flawed system. That is exactly why the authors included a Supreme Court as a final and essential protection against that flaw. They performed admirably last week.


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