From the crypt of shocking ideas: Consider Ending Universal Suffrage

Democracy substitutes election by the incompetent many for appointment by the corrupt few.
~ George Bernard Shaw

What is the point of decreeing Governors should have University degrees (and MPs and Senators too; before the sneaky exemption made at the last minute by MPs to void the requirements for this general election) if at the end of the day everyone, including those that are completely illiterate, is allowed to vote?

If the argument is that people without a tertiary education are not capable of leading (and are in fact forbidden by law from trying), how then are the same people proscribed as incapable of leadership supposed to have the competence to choose leaders? It is almost like being forbidden to cook (and eat), but then being told to choose the best cook?

Maybe we should just throw out all pretence and state that only those meeting the requirements to run for a position should have the right to vote for that position. Of course that runs counter to rights of universal suffrage. Therefore we should just cut the charade and allow anyone, regardless of academic credentials, to run for any office.

Come March 5th, Nairobi will be in the hands Sonko or Wanjiru and most likely Clifford Waititu. So much for constitutional requirements…..

PS. I came across this on where a somebody in attendance at the Aspen Ideas Conference wrote this:

Fortunately, one speaker shattered that fear when he presented his big idea: abandoning our enthusiasm for universal suffrage.

I’m sorry to report that I did not catch his name. I’ll try to track him down for a proper interview later in the festival.

His argument had two parts. The first was that some people simply are not ready for democracy. They have no functional conception of the state in their minds, much less an understanding of representative, deliberative democracy. Some are so poor that they can be bribed to vote this way or that for “five dollars,” he said. The application of the principle of universal suffrage was not a recipe for successful government in these circumstances, the speaker argued.

The second point of his argument was that the developed Western democracies did not start out with universal suffrage. Almost all allowed only a portion of their citizens to vote at first, only slowly expanding the right to participate in elections over the course of decades. Why force the developing world into instant universal suffrage?

This pretty much runs against the grain of everything decent and serious people think. In fact, in a place like Aspen — which is dominated by progressives of various sorts — it felt like he was standing athwart history yelling “Go back!”

So what should replace the model of universal suffrage? How do we decide who should get the franchise?

The anti-universal suffrage guy didn’t have the answers to those questions. But just because an answer isn’t at hand doesn’t mean we shouldn’t ask the question. Perhaps if people started taking them seriously, we’d be at the beginning of something truly new in world politics.”

Link to complete article


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  1. #1 by gitts on January 22, 2013 - 6:33 pm

    interesting . I keep wondering if democracy is the best thing for Africa. in my last blog post I detailed a talk from somebody who believed there should be minimum requirements to register as a voter . a bit extreme but it makes sense

    • #2 by Admin on January 24, 2013 - 9:04 am

      True. I will make sure to check out your posting. And I concur that we need a minimum threshold for registration to vote.

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