Democracy is the Right to be Stupid

People sure can be stupid.

As the US election proved.

As Kinder Morgan pipeline situation demonstrates.

And the point some of us need to remember is that people have that right in a democracy.

A lot of protesters think that, because their cause is so important, their right to swing their fists ends a long way past where everyone else’s noses begin. Yes, people have the right to protest. But once their protest has been heard, they don’t have the right to bully the rest of the country into doing whatever it is they believe is correct. We live in a democratic society, and that just ain’t done.

But We’re Right!

Yes, but we still have to let everyone have their say, and if “everyone” is an appreciable majority of the country, then sooner or later we have to accept that fact. And yes, I know that you and I believe strongly in our point of view, and that all those other people look really stupid because of the facts they are ignoring. And they really need people like you and me, who know so much better, to tell them what’s right. Well, they need me, anyway. I’m not so sure about you sometimes.

Perhaps it will help you to realize that you and I look just as stupid from their point of view. Take a look at the list of doomsday scenarios that various protest groups have screamed at the general public about in my lifetime alone: nuclear annihilation, global starvation, global warming, various plagues and viruses, communism, capitalism, you name it. Not one of these has destroyed the world yet. Not to say they couldn’t. They all had a valid point in their day, and may still get around to it. But to the general public, they aren’t incipient enough to persuade us to drop everything we’re doing and solve them RIGHT NOW like you’re shouting at us that we must OR ELSE. We just don’t believe it.

The Problem of Belief

Belief has very little to do with intelligence. How else could such a large percentage of the world’s smartest people believe in Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Christianity, or any of those other religions that you and I know are just belief systems? Not like our religion, which is not really a belief system at all, because it’s just the Way Things Truly Are. Deluded, aren’t they? Well, you know what they say about the intelligence of 50% of the population.

The Limit to What You Can Do

So, no matter who you are and how intelligent you are, you make your play and then you just have to put up with the rest of the idiots. The Americans are in the middle of that process right now. The Left in the States thought they had the moral high ground all sewed up, and they stood there, proclaiming what was right and proper to all and sundry.

And it turned out that there were a whole lot of the sundry that didn’t agree.

Baby Steps

Social change comes slowly. It’s a two-steps-ahead-one-step-back sort of process, and sometimes it seems we have to take two steps back to pick up some of the people that are dragging their heels. But pick them up we must, because this is a democracy.

Democracy Must Become More Democratic

And this is why adapting Democracy to the realities of the world is so important. Look at the United States. The candidate with 2.9 million more votes lost the election. That can’t be democratic; they need to change something.

Also, the winner-take-all style of democracy is custom tailored to create conflict, as the pipeline debate has demonstrated. When 40% of the voters get the right to tell everyone else what to do, it’s no wonder that some of the others feel a bit left out and react accordingly. The whole idea of a more collaborative democracy is that more people feel like they get to have their say, and they don’t feel powerless. Because powerless people get frightened and angry and do stupid things. Like vote for strange candidates. And take civil disobedience past the civil stage.

Don’t Worry.

Sooner or later, if our way of thinking is really the right way, everyone will come around to believe in it. Well, to my way, at least. Yours has a few flaws I’m too polite to mention.

And if we’re really, really lucky (or if we live a really, really long time), we may actually be still here to see it happen.



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