Friday, January 22nd, 2010
Democracy Rant

The statement “Politicians too often base their decisions on what will please the voters, not on what is best for the country” is a logical fallacy often presented by those disagreeing with the opinions of the majority of voters. It is used to insinuate that following the will of the masses is somehow more harmful to the country than pursuing an unpopular course. In the 1990’s the elected government of Canada decided to implement a large scale gun registry at a national level, this decision was highly unpopular but was done for the good of the country.

Although widely opposed by many at the time, the Bill did have a number of supporters. It was meant to curb crime and overall gun violence and was intended to cost several million dollars. The voting public, while not in possession of a perfect track record, seemed to have decided that while the stated goals were noble, the overall idea was poorly conceived.

Several years later it became clear that the program was a massive failure. Not only had the basic goals of the program failed, it had also cost almost a billion dollars. Defenders of the program continued to defend its ongoing existence saying it was in the best interest of the country. The program was finally scrapped after a change in government.

There is a very good reason that politicians base decisions on the opinion of voters. This is because voters are more often than not right. The collected voices of thousands hold far more wisdom than most single individuals. The record of the 20th century, the cradle of advanced democracy, is filled with a multitude of sober thought by the voting public, as well as a long list of astonishing failures, crimes, and atrocities by leaders who believed they knew what was in the best interest of the people. The opinions of thousands of quite voices should never be ignored.

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