Apr 212016
 

I put to you – though of course you are entitled to disagree with me – that a successful democracy is contingent on an informed and responsible electorate. Mind you, democracies being what they are, the electorate rules (though parenthetically, of course, the market also has a slight say in the matter; in most matters, actually).

An uninformed or ignorant electorate will too easily be tempted to seek drastic solutions of one kind or another. An irresponsible electorate will mainly consider what might thrill or benefit each voter here and now, regardless of the costs to future generations or even to each voter’s own future.

Ignorance is statistically closely associated with involuntary socio-economic deprivation. I repeat: involuntary. Few people are happy about deprivation, which is usually imposed on them.

Irresponsibility is a word I cannot recall having heard in vote result analyses. Irresponsibility strikes me as being the something that is not mentioned, not referred to, not measured (since, in democracies, we have the right to vote as we please without questions being raised about our moral fibre).

So that brings me back to ignorance. The ignorance of a population is often assessed on the basis of the number of inhabitants who are more or less illiterate, and thus unable to find the information they need to make informed decisisons about matters that concern them.

Now the matter of the identity of the next US president evidently concerns Mr Trump’s voter very much, and the numbers of Mr Trump’s voters are daunting, indeed. So if Mr Trump’s voters are not statistically illiterate (and we are not allowed to refer to them as irresponsible), we have no other alternative than to conclude that US education is seriously deficient.

My question then is: Is the USA a successful democracy?