Mobocracy or “rule by the mob” is considered to be a degenerative form of democracy. Democracy is a form of governance which protects all, or almost all. Its strength, in its purest form, lies in the equal weight of each person, and the whims of a few can not dominate the course of action. That is the upside. The downside is that the will of many can and do dominate over the will of the few. I think an awareness of this contributed to the first 10 amendments to the constitution. Unchecked, democracy can and does degenerate to mobocracy. Only laws and our constitution protect us from that. The assumption that all votes count equally rests on the principle of the strength of collective judgment. That in turn rests on the assumption of an aware, good (whatever that means), intelligent, educated, and principled electorate. Do we have that? I think the fact is much less so than we would like to imagine. When a quarter or so of the electorate think that Obama is Muslim, that he was born outside the US, don’t know their senators or congressman by name, don’t know why we have seasons, can not locate states, much less know their capitals, don’t think we have been on the moon, don’t know the difference between fission and fusion, don’t know fractions or percentages. Think of the level of campaign rhetoric, the appeal to emotions over reason, for short-term solutions to systemic change. But what many do want is lower taxes, less regulation, and more services, much more services. This is a toxic brew. Many say they want a balanced budget, but not more taxes or less services. We want free trade (cheaper items at Walmart), but also manufacturing jobs in America. Our government is not failing on everything, but it is on some very important issues. Social Security, for example. Easy to fix with minimal pain now. Impossible without crippling pain later. Seems like mobocracy (which is an old term for opinion-pole driven decisions) says: let’s wait for later. A less democratic decision would do what is not 100% popular for the known good in the long term. Not going to happen, since we are crisis driven. But does democracy always fail. No. The more informed the population, the better it works, and it can work, and in some instances it does work. It also works in nature. Bees depend on communal living and everyone working and communicating. Ants also make decisions en-mass. Species of some fish, schools of fish survive by collective decision making, so some fish and insects actually think as a democracy and survive by it. The best part of mobocracy, a democracy. And it would seem it is certainly prudent to have too much participation than risk having too little.
What can we do? Be informed, insist the candidates talk intelligently about issues, participate, call, write, email offices, hold office holders accountable, raise the discussion above grade school level and name calling. Issues, whatever your persuasion from the far left to the far right - you are entitled. Understand issues and think long term. And VOTE
Global warming, hurricanes and weather related topic to follow - I promise.