In America, the Democratic Party primaries have become tortuous recently due to the accusations by Hillary Clinton that her rival, Barack Obama, is “elitist.” This is nothing to joke around about, because the votes of millions of workers (white) are in play and their idea of fun is to watch football, while munching on nachos and drinking domestic beer. Therefore, we are forced to watch this Obama spectacle, a Harvard lawyer and senator, drinking cans of Budweiser and going out bowling (with horrible results), or playing basketball, which he happens to be better at. But the worst is yet to come, a couple of days ago this tragic story had a new (and deteriorating) development.
The number one problem is the disastrous state of the national economy. The causes of greatest concern are with inflation, housing loans, credit, and the price of gas, which has become the symbol of this disaster as record prices are reached daily. John McCain has had the brilliant idea to propose a suspension of the tax on fuel (18 cents to the gallon, on a price that’s now over four dollars, which, by the way, is half the cost in Europe) for the summer. Economists have laughed at the idea. One Ex-Minister of the Treasury has described the proposal as “stupid and dumb.” Assuming that the price would remain stable, a family would save $25 to $30 over three months (half the price of a fill-up), but it is more likely that with the price slightly reduced, demand would rise along with prices, taking away the 18 cents that before was going to the treasury. That would be money that could never be used for things such as roads, bridges, and other public services. In any case, it is a trivial matter because the candidates don’t have the power make this reduction, and the Bush Administration has no intention of taking their advice. Clinton, however, found herself to be immediately in agreement with McCain. And when someone asked her if any economists thought it was a good idea, she said she was not about to put her lot in with economists. She also said she was not elitist, and that she only cared what the people think.
Socrates and Plato held the belief that democracy was a mistake. If I am sick, they reasoned, I’m not going to conduct a survey among my friends to find out what’s wrong with me, instead, I’m going to see a doctor, and a specialist at that. But that specialist’s opinion, an opinion of only one person, means more to me than the opinion of the masses. Should we not then conduct ourselves differently when discussing public affairs? Should we think that in this case the masses see more clearly than the experts?
Universal suffrage is only one half of democracy; the other half is education. Only if citizens are put into a condition to know and understand what they are doing, can their vote be counted as being significant and authentically democratic. Otherwise, any charlatan can come along and say anything to please the people and win their consent. Why is it that American citizens understand this when one talks about going to the doctor or deciding who is the best football player, but when one talks about choosing a leader, they prefer people like Bush? How does this demonstrate competence or ability? How is it that a critic can say that Obama is an “elitist” politician or that it is “elitist” to listen to the advice of economists, but that same critic would never get away with saying that Kobe Bryant is an “elitist” basketball player? Is it because these citizens are better educated to understand the fundamentals of basketball rather than politics?