The American people pride themselves on the democratic system in which their country functions. The people have the power to vote for their fellow citizens in and out of power. The concept seems simple enough: majority rules. However, it’s far from simple, due to the many variables that could easily turn a sound democratic union into an unprincipled political machine.
Such anti-democratic systems have many causes, the main two being the totalitarian aspirations of people in power and an ignorant society. The latter is arguably more detrimental.
In order for people to properly vote for candidates that truly represent and will implement their ideals, voters must not only be well versed in the candidates’ policies but also sound in the comprehensiveness of their opinions.
People in power, unfortunately, have a tendency to do all that is necessary to maintain the power they have been given. This is often done with the illusion that they need “more time” to further implement the policies they built their campaigns upon. An educated populace would not have to settle for less and would not re-elect ill-fit people based on a sheer claim. By applying a complex understanding of the power yielded to the people in a democracy, individuals can rid, to an extent, the government from dictatorial politicians.
This is not going to say that corruption can be solved if everyone in America reads a book on the way in which the country functions, it’s rather an argument saying that in doing so, America could go venture into a more true democratic state.
The widespread rhetoric that “ignorance is bliss” is inherently anti-democratic. Those living in oblivion have a false sense of freedom. Although they feel free, their rights could so easily be taken away by the people governing them without their knowledge. This is a result of a lack of awareness and understanding of the policies being implemented and repealed, due to self-imposed ignorance. Citizens in a democracy are not meant to blindly follow, that is the opposite of what is intended when a democratic system is put in place; this is an indirect democracy.
Ignorance can lead to a democracy turning into a dictatorship without the citizens noticing the regressive changes their societies are undergoing. Awareness prevents corruption. Politicians are employees of the people and should be working as such.
An academically and socially cultivated population begins with the individual. One must look beyond their sanctimony and dismantle their own micro-aggressions and biases. Respecting and considering the studies and outputs of professionals–scientists, doctors, etc–, obtaining news and historical education through bi-partisan sources, and most importantly, keeping an open mind are all integral to the process of educating one’s self.
How could modern-day society look down on the people of the dark ages when they are, quite frankly, replicating the same deliberate refusal to maintain an open mind when faced with a diversity of thought and opinions. In order for people to truly deserve the title of “an enlightened individual”, they must diverge from principles like groupthink and herd mentality. People must not turn down the professional opinions of those more educated than them selves simply becasue they are threatened by the prospect of being wrong; perfection is founded on imperfection.
People like the renowned Nicholas Copernicus and Giordano Bruno were endowed with extensive prowess in their respective fields, yet their revolutionary outlooks on the functions of the universe were rejected for being just that, revolutionary. The people were, and still are afraid of being questioned. If modern-day society truly does not want the return of the dark ages, the people most collectively aspire to educate themselves and focus on their own flaws as individuals. The more one knows, the more they realize they know virtually nothing; this understanding is fundamental to an open-minded society. For, as the author of The Brief History of Time once put it, The only thing more dangerous than ignorance is a false sense of knowledge.