So, with my title, perhaps I am giving Mr. Justin Fox a little more attention than is deserved. But if one desires insight into the limo-lib consensus regarding just about any hot button topic, the Bloomberg View section is the best place to look because birds of a feather flock together.
Of course what can be truly expected from the author of the book, The Myth of the Rational Market? As such, Mr. Fox fails to disappoint in his new piece on Bloomberg titled, Voters Are Making a Mess of Democracy, as he opines regarding the rise of Trump and Brexit developments:
In the U.S., a large if perhaps shrinking share of the population wants to elect as president a reality-television star with no apparent interest in learning anything about governing or the world around him. In the U.K., a majority of voters chose to exit the European Union despite experts’ warnings of financial chaos and economic damage that so far are being borne out. In these and other democracies, voters are becoming increasingly enamored of protest candidates and populist parties that have no ability or perhaps even intention to live up to their promises.
Even if you believe that political elites in the U.S., U.K. and elsewhere have made a mess of things in recent years (and I do), it’s still hard not to entertain the suspicion that maybe voters are a big part of the problem, too. As one political theorist recently wrote, “The basic problem is not that most voters seek to maximize their self-interest, but rather that most voters lack the knowledge necessary to make informed political judgments.” Or, “The uncomfortable truth is that the best (perhaps only) way to reduce the political influence of ignorant voters is to deprive them of the vote.”
Bell never makes the argument that multi-party democracies such as the U.S. should switch to being one-party states. He does make a strong case, though, for bringing back some strands of Western political philosophy that have gotten short shrift in recent decades. Important thinkers from Plato to Machiavelli to the U.S.’s Founding Fathers to John Stuart Mill all proposed limits on democracy, and most modern democracies include institutions (central banks and courts, for example) that aren’t directly subject to voter approval.
It’s not particularly hard to see the profound irony in all of this. First, placing the ignorant label on voters, and then pointing out central banks as an example of institutions that aren’t directly accountable to voters, as if there is some sort of intellectual magic there that could be replicated when, demonstrably, there is simply no monopoly on ignorance given the undue obsession with inflation, interest and exchange rates at the expense of all else.
How can anyone believe that elitists and their appointees who are far from voters’ reach have made a mess while suggesting that more appointees may produce a much better result than the mess we have now?
And the picture of the voter used as a heading for the piece is amazing. There is ignorant Average Joe with his ballot, a voter who has strayed so far off the stodgy reservation he couldn’t possibly be rational enough to blacken any of the circles, and should be booted out of the balloting area.
When Average Joe was voting for Bush or Obama, the acceptable and allowable mess-maker-in-chiefs, and for the inflation-o-phobe parties, or voting in the affirmative for membership in the EU, he was what… smart and rational, or just a useful tool?
Ah ha! I get the point. As long as the ignoramuses shut up and vote as they’re told, democracy is a workable arrangement. But when the little pea-brains start thinking for themselves, there is a terrible political crisis afoot that the one and only answer to is disenfranchisement.
All spoken like a true egotistical tyrant.