I was reading the latest Naked Capitalism daily links roundup when I came across a Washington Post review of a book by Jason Brennan entitled Against Democracy. It is everything you would expect from a Libertarian enamored with Plato’s Republic.
Our present government is more republic than direct democracy; more ancient Rome than ancient Athens. No matter to the author, the wrong people get a meager bit of input into electing our representatives. Most people don’t understand the big issues of the day or are biased by emotion. We need Vulcans who can vote rationally and dispassionately.
Never mind that we have such people, men really, who vote in unaccountable courts setup by trade agreements and have a tendency to vote in favor of the rich and powerful, especially in favor of corporations. Courts that our present administration wants to expand with agreements such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership and Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.
Brennan wants to replace the feeble democracy we have with election by the knowledgeable. He even suggests that we have a test to determine who could enter this elite club. What could go wrong?
To his credit, Ilya Somin, the Washington Post reviewer, a Professor of Law at George Mason University who writes books that extoll “Why Smaller Government is Smarter”, does point out some of the obvious problems with Brennan’s thesis while maintaining that Against Democracy is a “powerful challenge to the conventional wisdom about democracy”.
Yet, Somin and Brennan, as should be expected based on their ideology, leave out the money primary that limits our choice in most elections to those candidates which are acceptable to the 1%. With the Citizens United ruling allowing the rich (some not even US Citizens or permanent residents) to influence elections in secret, why even bother to limit the franchise to only the capitalist class’ best and brightest?
The president and congress are overwhelmingly made up of millionaires with college degrees. Government policy from taxes to regulating markets to labor policy have gone the way Libertarians wanted. Yet, the economy has bumped along rather poorly for most since the 1970s, income inequality has increased dramatically and the effects of global warming continue apace and are becoming blindingly obvious.
Limiting the vote to knowledgable citizens is just a recipe for rule by those with property and would result in us enduring more Libertarian failures.