Democracy is the cornerstone of our government. Every person has an equal vote in who is elected to rule over us.
The ancient Greeks invented democracy over 2,400 years ago. However, one of their most brilliant thinkers of their society, Socrates, was highly suspicious of democracy and even warned about its potential to do more harm than good.
In “The Republic Book VI” written by Plato, Socrates posed this question: If you were heading out on a journey by sea, who would you ideally want deciding who was in charge of the ship? Just anyone or people educated in the rules and demands of seafaring?
Clearly we would want those educated in the rules and demands of seafaring.
Socrates then asks: so why do we keep thinking that any old person should be fit to judge who should be a ruler of a country?
Socrates was not against democracy. Rather, his point was that voting in an election is a skill and not some random intuition we all possess. Like any skill, it needs to be taught systematically to the people. Letting citizens vote without an education on the candidates and the issues is as irresponsible as putting an ordinary person behind the wheel of a ship in a storm.
Socrates was not an elitist. He did not feel that only a select few should be the only ones allowed to vote.
However, he did believe that only those who had thought about the issues rationally and deeply should be let near a voting booth.
Much of Socrates fear was realized under the rule of Alcibiades, a rich, charismatic, smooth-talking wealthy man who eroded basic freedoms and pushed Athens into a disastrous military venture in Sicily. (Sound like anyone we know?)
We have allowed ourselves to think of voting as a birthright rather than a skill to be scrutinized more intensely than any other decision we make. We go to the voting booths and vote without wisdom.
If you don’t believe me, see if you can answer these questions:
Who is your current U.S. Congressional Representative?
Who is your current State Congressional Representative?
Who is the State Senator that presides over your area?
What voting district and precinct do you live in?
Do not be embarrassed if you are unable to answer some or all of the questions. Instead, see this as an important wakeup call.
We all need to do our due diligence when it comes to our government and not let ourselves be swayed by popularity and name recognition in our election process.