Sunday, September 18, 2016

Governing the Deplorables

Granny Goodness - sick and contagious with pneumonia hugs little girl on the street

theamericanconservative |  On the day she is said to have been diagnosed with “pneumonia,” Mrs. Clinton delivered a notorious speech in which she denounced “xenophobes,” among others, as fit for a “basket of deplorables.” People who are for open borders and globalism have a habit of dismissing their opponents as xenophobes — that is, people who fear (and therefore loathe) foreigners.

A reader has sent in an essay by Georgetown professor Jason Brennan, in which he argues that we can avoid stupid decisions like the Brexit vote if we institute an “epistocracy,” system through which smart people who know things rule. Excerpt:

In an epistocracy, political power is to some degree apportioned according to knowledge. An epistocracy might retain the major institutions we see in republican democracy, such as parties, mass elections, constitutional review, and the like. But in an epistocracy, not everyone has equal basic political power. An epistocracy might grant some people additional voting power, or might restrict the right to vote only to those that could pass a very basic test of political knowledge.
A literacy test as a requirement of holding the franchise? How could that possibly go wrong? More:
Any such system will be subject to abuse, and will suffer from significant government failures. But that’s true of democracy too. The interesting question is whether epistocracy, warts and all, would perform better than democracy, warts and all.
All across the West, we’re seeing the rise of angry, resentful, nationalist, xenophobic and racist movements, movements made up mostly of low-information voters. Perhaps it’s time to put aside the childish and magical theory that democracy is intrinsically just, and start asking the serious question of whether there are better alternatives. The stakes are high.