EJ Dionne writes about democracy in the WaPo. It’s a predictable article lamenting the failures of democracy and it uninteresting. Except that the article itself is a perfect symbol for the real failures of democracy: namely that everybody thinks its good and nobody has any idea what it actually is (what it is in a meaningful, non-absurdist sense).
Democracy (as majority rule) is not wholly good (think about free elections in the middle east that result in totalitarian, oppressive governments). And nobody has any idea what it means: it surely does NOT mean majority rule (at least, that’s not what most people believe that it means and that not what most people want it to mean).
But most people do ACT as if democracy means majority rule. And because of that, I laugh.
And because of that, this paragraph from EJ Dionne’s article makes me fall out of my chair laughing:
Ernst Hillebrand, the head of international policy analysis for the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, the German Social Democratic Party’s think tank, describes a chilling finding in a 2009 survey by the German polling firm Forsa: “that zero percent — yes, zero percent — of workers in Germany believe they can have a significant impact on how policy in Germany is shaped via the ballot box.”
It’s funny because it’s true and because the author (EJ Dionne and Ernst Hillebrand) doesn’t understand why it’s true. 1 vote out of 1 million votes IS ZERO PERCENT. Individuals in majority rule democracies have NO POWER AT THE BALLOT BOX. This is very simple. It’s just math, and math that all elementary school children know. EJ Dionne is not smarter than a fifth grader, and I find that very funny.