Monday, May 08, 2006

Posner on Democracy

In passing, Posner dissected democracy today. Here's the excellent quote:

What happens in a democracy is that if the party in power does not deliver what the people expect, they will vote for another party, regardless of their views of sound policy--on which they probably have no settled views. Democracy is not a deliberative process (as many academics believe), in the sense that voters examine and discuss issues and so formulate a thoughtful, knowledgeable opinion on what policies are right for the nation or for them. Voters have neither the time, the education, nor the inclination for such an activity, as intellectuals imagine. All they know is results. So if the Right fails to deliver on its promises, the Left takes over, whether or not it has better or even different policies.

This sorta explains my recent skepticism on political reform and alternative voting systems. If there is some alternative system where voters are somehow given time and motivation to actually learn anything before making a decision, then I'm all ears. If not, then I don't see how political reform is going to make any difference in our process whatsoever, excepting the huge expenses such reforms would incur. I would prefer devoting our limited exchequer towards areas where there will be more noticeable benefits, like police protection, education, and disaster readiness.

(Posner also takes a somewhat cheap swipe at Catholicism later in the post, but I'll leave that for another discussion.)