A new post on Hidden Harmonies discusses the recent overturning of California Prop 8, a state law banning same-sex marriages, by U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn R. Walker. It does almost entirely to segue into what it describes as “the real problem”: Democracy allows irrationality to trump facts, science, etc. and yet there are still “advocates” for democracy as a political system of governance.
You have heard this argument before from the “Democracy Advocates”: Let the People decide for themselves, (especially applied to China). Who cares if the People are irrational or uneducated in delicate matters, let them decide for themselves.
What happened here is that the People decided with their usual gut feel for the issues. Morality is more important, who cares about facts, let’s get on in ignorance and prejudice.
But Democracy is being judged EVERY DAY by the world, whether in a US court or in the world opinions, whether with facts or with religious morality.
A different verdict lies here, that whether this democracy can stand by the facts and the laws, or will it stand by its own version of religious morality much like in Iran?
My guess is the PEOPLE will likely be irrational, even when given such a clear choice.
Unless I’ve misunderstood the implications being made above, the author seems upset that a democracy enacted a law against homosexuality despite the “facts” and in accordance with “ignorance and prejudice” and is thus questioning the desirability of democracy as a system of governance itself. There’s probably an element of annoyance with “democracy activists” too, “especially” those who harp on China for not embracing democracy and still persisting in single-party authoritarianism.
Here’s the thing: There’s a bit of conflation going on here, on multiple sides. The concept of democracy does not promise any adherence to facts or science or whatever, only popular opinion. So don’t conflate the efficacy or desirability of democracy by measuring it against such criteria. True, some advocates of democracy get ahead of themselves, sometimes oversimplifying and thereby misrepresenting democracy as some sort of cure-all for all of society’s ills that ensures that only good things will result. They deserve getting called out for it, no disagreement there.
However, suggesting that “Democracy” (with a capital “D”) is “being judged EVERY DAY by the world” ostensibly because of how often laws enacted by a democratic government fail to reflect facts and science is:
- One part overeager rebuke of overeager pro-democracy activists (who probably have to be in support of equal rights for homosexuals), and
- Two parts melodrama that doesn’t really get us closer to understanding when democracy becomes preferable for wherever it is recommended.
There’s some good discussion about majorities vs. minorities or checks and balances in “democratic” republics, but I’m not too sure this Prop 8 episode contributes much to the world’s “judgment” of democracy itself.