Voting and Popular Will
What do you first think of when you hear the word democracy? Do you think of freedom or of liberty? What about the constitution? Or America? Maybe you think of the right to vote. Regardless of what you think of, or what you’ve been taught, democracy is very different from what most of us know. Its very different from a lot of the things we’ve been told. Hopefully that will change. So here’s to clarification and squirrels.
Democracy, a short history.
A true democracy is where everyone’s vote counts as one vote. It doesn’t count as a preliminary vote, but as an exact vote. So, all it takes is one person to change the election as a whole.
There has only been one true democracy in all of history. It was the city of Athens in ancient Greece. Well, suffice it to say it didn’t turn out so well. There was constant chaos, mob rule, and very little ever got done. (Ironically it was because of debating).
The rest of the world has been wise in learning from Athens mistakes. After Athens, there has never been another true democracy. Now jump ahead a couple thousand years, you get America. Now many of us are told from a young age that we are a democracy, or that we are a republic. Well, we are neither of those. We are a Democratic republic. So what’s the difference?
Democracy vs. Republic. In a democracy, as explained above, everyone gets a vote, and everyone’s vote counts toward the end goal. In a republic, no one gets a vote at all. The representatives of the people are the ones who get to vote. Individuals have no vote. In a democratic republic, the people vote for their representatives, and even, to tell their representatives how to vote. This means that everyone has a vote, but only the representatives (who, believe it or not represent the people; at least in theory) vote truly counts. That’s a form of a democratic republic. So lets look at a couple of things about democracy. First:
Democracy NEVER supports popular will.
Let’s look at some data that suggests that there is no such thing as democracy. To do this, we have to define democracy as popular will. The majority wins (which is not always true in a democratic republic) in every circumstance. So here is some data that suggests that popular will is never upheld through majority vote, or by anything period.
1 2 3
A B C
B C A
C A B
In the above chart there are 3 people, and 3 issues. Each of the 3 people value each issue differently. But there is still some common interest. Look at this:
A > B – Person 1 values A above B; Person 2 values B above A; but person C values A above B; Therefore, A is more popular then B.
B > C – Person 1 values B over C; Person 2 values B over C; and Person 3 values C over B; Therefore, B is more popular then C.
According to the above data then, A beats B and B beats C, therefore A must beat C right? Wrong. Look at the data.
C > A – Person 1 values A over C; person 2 values C over A; person 3 values C over A; therefore, C beats A.
What??? This makes no sense.
This goes to show us one thing. That is, no matter how the vote goes, the true popular will is never truly represented. Popular items may be upheld, but at the same time, it might be the exact opposite, its never possible to get true popular will.
But wait just a second now! Isn’t democracy the majority vote? The answer is a resounding yes, democracy is popular will, but if there is no popular will as was just indicated, then there really is no true democracy.
According to Economic Philosopher Gordon Tullock, “Democracy is either an illusion or fraud.”
Those are some powerful words are they not? But think about it, does your vote truly count? Do you even have a vote when it comes to laws? No you don’t. You can vote for your representative, but that’s the extent of your say. Maybe a little different then you were taught, or what you thought. Secondly:
Voting doesn’t have enough benefit for voters to take the time to educate themselves.
Let’s look at a few logical thoughts:
Premise: Time = opportunity cost
1) Education costs time
2) Education time, takes away time for other stuff (opportunity cost)
3) No benefit to voting. I.e. Welfare, no matter candidate, welfare still exists.
4) No benefit means there isn’t any good reason to spend cost
5) Conclusion: Voters are Rationally Ignorant. Majority of voters don’t care to educate themselves.
If this is true, then why do people vote at all? Many vote out of a sense of obligation. We are taught from a young age that it is our civic duty to vote, so many of us feel bad if we don’t go and vote. Others vote out of a sense of making a difference, and maybe they will or do, but for the most part all of these leads to the conclusion that voting really doesn’t matter, is costly to all, and benefits very few.
Voting guaranteed to all, yet only a few can vote.
The right to vote is upheld in the constitution in Amendment 15. It says:
“Section 1: The Right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.
Section 2: The congress shall have the power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.”
So there you have it, no one can be denied the right to vote because of race, or imprisonment, etc. But when you get right down to it, people are still denied the right to vote. The right to vote is laid out pretty clearly in the constitution, so maybe we should follow it.
Why does it really matter what the constitution says anyway when it comes down to voting. Especially if what was said earlier is true; that it doesn’t matter if you vote? It and all of this stuff comes down to a matter of principle. Do you believe that the constitution is the supreme law of the land? Is it your duty to vote? All of your decisions, my decisions, and other peoples decisions in life come down to what you believe. It’s the same thing with democracy. Does your vote change an election? No. But do many people’s votes change an election? Yes. And if you or I don’t vote, and if other people don’t vote because it doesn’t “benefit” us at the time. Then maybe, the election would never happen, and everybody would be in a big mess. When you get right down to it, democracy does matter. It does matter that we uphold the law (the constitution). It MATTERS what we think and what we do.