Visual Arts








The Real Purpose Of Democracy

Written by Jack Vero
April 26, 2012

The great strength of Democracy is that it considers every opinion, it's great weakness is that it doesn't qualify them. In what other aspect of life, besides something as ludicrous as politics, would we take a person's advice without evaluating the credibility of the source? Jeremy, a 38 year old man is deciding what suit to buy for his upcoming job interview at the bank. His wife Lorraine suggests black, because it's classic and professional, however their six year old daughter suggests bubble gum pink, because it's her favorite, and her copycat younger sister agrees. That's a 2-1 vote, so pink it is. That night during poker with the guys he mentions this recurring squeezing sensation he's been having in his chest. His pals tell him to man up, just lay off the spicy wings, but earlier that week his family physician warned that could indicate heart trouble, he should get a CT scan. If all opinions are equal he need not waste the time.

This delusion of equality may be comforting to some, but in reality it's simply not true. We all have our strengths and weaknesses, so it would be arrogant for me to demand that my opinion on how to cook a turkey, which I've never done, should be held as highly as that of a professional chef. Furthermore, I don't really know all that much about Middle Eastern diplomacy. I've never been to that part of the world and know little of the culture so how am I supposed to know which candidate has the best foreign policy platform? Well I guess I'll just have to take a guess at it because it's my duty as a citizen to vote. Right? Couldn't I perhaps trade my foreign policy vote with some international relations professor for his film censorship vote? That way I could get twice the say in a matter I actually care about and so could he. But democracy isn't built that way.

Perhaps the root of the problem can be found in our Constitution? Now I'm generally a fan of the American principles but I've never gotten over the line: "all men are created equal." Really? Cause I'm pretty sure that guy over there is taller than me, and that's due to his genes. And what about that kid that was born with a crack addiction cause his mother was a user during pregnancy? The fact of the matter is that some people get a head start right out of the gate, and thirty years later they may have caught up, surpassed, or fallen further behind their peers but they're never in exactly the same spot. They might be in the same general area, but unless they're lined up down to every quark and atom, it's not exact.

What I'm saying here is that we're not all equal. So rather than pretend that we are, wouldn't it be smart to make the best of it and assign people credit according to their merit, rather than paint them all with the same brush? Yeah it would. Fortunately, that's exactly what we do.

The Western world claims to be democratic but everyone knows that what really controls the world is money. And the financial system isn't based on the illusion of equality, it's based on merit, measured by the metaphor of money. In some circles this is a controversial idea, but the parties can generally be divided between the haves and the have-nots, with the haves in favor and the have-nots predictably against. This isn't just the case with money, it's the case in almost every meritocratic part of life, whether it involves sex, respect, or wisdom. There are the people who've figured it out, and the people who say the situation is unfair or unimportant. This is the nature of success, only the successful know why it worked, while the unsuccessful, who can not see the real error, wrongly attribute the fault to some other element. This is the way it's always been and it's a fact to be celebrated, not remorsed. It suggests there is justice in the world, that people get what they deserve. In pee-wee hockey I was told we are all winners, regardless of who scores the most goals. Everyone nodded along but of course we tried just as hard to win because the win/lose duality is a fact of life and nothing is going to change that. The people on top are there deservedly so, and the ones who don't deserve it are either on their way down or can't appreciate their fortune, which means they're not really on top anyways.