Saturday, 23 June 2007

A voter intelligence test, and other thoughts on democracy

This post is part of my new blog post series, Ideas about Democracy.

Since I am likely to raise more questions than I answer in this post, let me just throw some out before hand...
Would education for voters be found against democracy — the right to vote — or for it? Would it help or hurt? It would allow voters to make educated decisions, thus helping themselves, their government, and the system. On the other hand the education could run the possibility of being politically-charged by whomever is in power; plus might it impede with the central 'one man, one vote' pillar of democratic voting? We don't let children (people under 18, or various other ages) vote, isn't that blocking democracy as much as voter education would? There are plenty of under-18s more educated on the issues and who is running in an election or what's on the ballot than those who can vote. How do we measure who can and cannot vote? Could the voter intelligence test, if created, become the next poll tax? Could it be a tool easily manipulated by politicians against their enemies, or to help themselves? How could the change in the voting system come about? I'm sure new and future voters would be OK with it, but couldn't current voters feel oppressed in one way or another? Could the campaign for voter education turn into one of those blind-patriotism kind of programs? Could the campaign result in a nasty political battle taking the attention away from real, pressing political issues?

Although I support the democratic system of government as the finest and most efficient form of government in this modern age, I do have a problem with the stupidity of the masses. One of the fundamental flaws of a democratic society is the voters.

How best can we solve the problem of voter (in)education? Much of the solution is simple: education in history, civics, politics, etc., which is why American schools, for example, should teach politics — comparative, theoretical, United States, and overall historical — in secondary school especially. Here are an outline of some of the steps I've thought of so far:

  • education on government open to the public;
  • socio-economic and politics (practical and otherwise), and civics, classes in middle and high schools;
  • higher literacy rate and government-sponsored ads encouraging political education and voting;
  • a limit and non-partisan regulation of political advertisements (France has a good system on things like this, as some do other Western European countries like the UK).

    A mandatory voter education course and voter intelligence test combined are perhaps the most extreme steps, and are probably best perused by theoretical means to find other aids to educating the public.

    A more educated public — especially on politically-relevant topics — not only aids the political system and government, as I mentioned above, but also helps prepare people for the real world, especially in the case of secondary school students. Education is essential to working towards better politicians and keeping the economy running strong.

  • No comments: