The Flawed Foundation of Democracy

Democracy is one of those ideals that enjoys religious devotion from its advocates. In the eyes of the especially pious, democracy can do no wrong. When an election goes the way a worshipper wants it’s because of the goodness of democracy. When an election doesn’t go the way a worshipper wants it’s because democracy has been usurped by a deceiver.

This point is well illustrated by the current political climate. A lot of the most faithful worshipers of democracy, primarily those who belong to the Democratic Party sect, were unhappy with the results of the last national election. They didn’t blame the results on democracy though. Instead great deceivers, Russia and fake news, undermined the greatness of democracy. And now they believe that there is a very real threat to their god:

It already feels as though we are living in an alternative science-fiction universe where no one agrees on what it true. Just think how much worse it will be when fake news becomes fake video. Democracy assumes that its citizens share the same reality. We’re about to find out whether democracy can be preserved when this assumption no longer holds.

I used this article because it’s based on a laughable premise. According to the article democracy assumes that voters share the same reality and that modern technology is allowing deceivers to create a world where nobody shares the same reality. However, at not point in the history of democracy has every voter shared the same reality. Propaganda, bribery, coercion, and other forms of deceit existed long before Cleisthenes brought democracy to Athens. In addition to deceit, personal beliefs and opinions also alter voters’ realities. A devout Christian does not share the same reality with an atheist. We bear witness to this every time a law based on religious beliefs is proposed by a Christian politician.

Each and every one of us has, to use Timothy Leary’s term, a different reality tunnel. Our individual beliefs and experiences filter the way we perceive the world and since no two people share the exact same beliefs and experiences, no two people filter reality in the exact same way.

If democracy assumes that voters shared the same reality, the very foundation of democracy is flawed (a premise that I belief).