Trump seems to be the most controversial president in history and I think it’s perfect. Don’t get me wrong, when he was elected, I had a hard time accepting the reality at first. Many people still suffer over this, though, and perhaps this will help if it doesn’t offend and outrage you first.
The American, vague approximation of democracy is based on a basic assumption: that our leaders should represent the people. The idea is that each senator and congressperson is somehow a microcosm for their district so that when they speak, they speak for their group.
Those leaders then hash things out and find compromises, which is far more efficient than all 330 million of us trying to do the same.
If intelligence and consciousness were uniformly distributed in our population, this would make sense. But it observably isn’t. Whether the capacity is there is an interesting, but irrelevant question. We may be, in essence, all equal, but in expression, it’s easy to observe that we’re not.
53% of Americans think immigrants have no rights under the Constitution. 34% reject evolution entirely. 37% cannot name a single right protected by the Bill of Rights. Only 26% can name all three branches of government. 25% think the sun goes around the earth.
Here’s a question that few dare ask: Should the right to vote be conditional on being well-informed? Are people free to be wrong and still have the right?
Asked another way: Should the vote of a person who thinks the earth is flat, with all the consciousness that goes with that, count as much as someone who knows the truth?
Nevermind the challenges of defining and agreeing upon such conditions or implementing a plan, which would probably cause civil war. Just as a thought experiment, consider this.
Do you want your leader, whether at a county, state, or national level, to represent your intelligence and awareness, or do you want them to exceed it?
I don’t know about you, but I want my leaders to be better than I am in every way possible. That’s what we need to grow. You don’t hire a tennis coach who’s just as good as you. You find someone better. You don’t want a therapist who’s just as emotionally aware as you. You want someone better. You want to work for a boss who knows the business, the industry, the product, and/or the job better than you, right?
So why is it in government we have this absurd notion that our leaders should merely represent rather than eclipse us? The answer is our distorted relationship with power, which goes back to the American Revolution against the English Monarchy. American colonists protested “taxation without representation” so devised a system of government that taxed and represented the people. “By the people, and for the people.”
I like the “for the people” part, but how well is “by the people” working? It’s not, because it’s based on the false premise that intelligence and awareness are uniformly distributed.
Our current president represents a significant amount of the population. That’s why he won. The system produced the result it was designed to. The people who don’t feel represented by him don’t like him, and those that do, do. But what if this is the wrong frame entirely?
We want someone who significantly represents our best interests, but this assumes we always know what those are. A parent represents the best interests of a child and makes them do things often that they don’t like (but is good for them), because they don’t know themselves well enough to make all of their own choices. That’s what leaders do: they carefully walk the line between giving people what they want and what they actually need. What adult would admit they don’t actually know what’s best for them? Yet you see it others all the time, don’t you? Do you see it in yourself as well?
Imagine a president giving their first address to the nation, using words you have to look up in a dictionary, identifying root causes that haven’t occurred to you, challenging you to think differently and leave your comfort zone so you can get what you want.
Most people wouldn’t like it, would they? But it might be exactly what we needed. A real leader meets people where they are and takes them somewhere else, somewhere they’ve never been, somewhere inevitably uncomfortable. That’s what creates growth and often it doesn’t feel good.
It’s simply not accurate to call what we have today, “leaders.” They are mostly representatives, so let’s call it what it is. A true leader would challenge so much of the population that in our current framework they wouldn’t be elected. Ironic isn’t it? The system reliably excludes leaders, rather than elects them.
The idea that a leader should be smarter than the general population goes all the way back to Plato’s philosopher-king concept. We’re afraid of any authority like that, however benevolent, because of another paradigmatic assumption we have, summarized by Lord Acton, “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
Because immature leaders throughout history have abused their power, the extreme solution has been to swing the pendulum to the other side and distribute power evenly among everyone, regardless of whether they’ve earned it or can use it responsibly. This is throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
Should someone be allowed to vote who can’t even name the three branches of government? In medicine, you would be deemed unable to give informed consent for an appendectomy if you couldn’t tell them vaguely where your appendix was. You’d be remanded to a guardian who would make the decision for you. It’s the same if you try to represent yourself in court and are deemed “incompetent.” You give up your power when you demonstrate you can’t maturely wield it. Why?
Because we protect people from themselves and others when they demonstrate they can’t make decisions in their best interest. Hmm. Haven’t we ever noticed people not voting in their best interest?
Yes, I’m implying that maybe some people shouldn’t be allowed to vote, because some people deserve more power than others. Notice how hard it is for us to go here. This is because of our distorted relationship with power.
What if it’s not that power corrupts people, but that power reveals corruption that is already there? If this were true, it would be possible for a very mature person to have a lot of power and not make a mess.
If the idea of a benevolent dictator sounds crazy to you, consider that this is how 99.9% of businesses are run, and even the mediocre ones run far more efficiently than any government. There’s a reason for this: because hierarchies based on meritocracy produce faster and better results than democracy that is dumbed down to the average.
It’s easy to demonstrate that Americans are becoming less intelligent, on average, and there are studies that show it. The result of this is that our “leaders” will follow suit as representatives of this trend. This is how an empire falls, under the weight of its own ignorance as the high times enable people to get lazy and lose the work ethic that earned the high times in the first place.
When the experiment allowing the masses to elect a representative who by definition doesn’t challenge them to evolve is done, one day perhaps we can try Plato’s vision. More likely, though, we will learn the hard way.
Do you want to become smarter and more conscious? Do you want to be a real leader? I work to be part of the solution with Clear and Open, radically educating people in affordable ways. We’re finishing up a course on Paradigmatic Analysis right now that’s available online and in this article I used that model to deconstruct where democracy fails.
Money: From Burden to Freedom is the next, 11-week course that begins the 2020-2021 Clear and Open academic year. It launches on September 24 at 11:15 am PT and will challenge everything you think you know about money. You can buy just the course or get a lot more for less and become a member for a low monthly investment.
Interested in being challenged? Or would you rather hear something you already know? 😉