I had an interesting conversation about elitism with someone over the weekend. Specifically, we were talking about elitism and its relationship to democracy. Theoretically, in a democracy, anyone, even the most uninformed citizen, is able to participate in government matters. However, there is a problem with this. A citizen who knows nothing about politics can influence laws and policies that affect millions of other people. Aristotle was against a democracy for this exact reason. So here are some questions my friend and I were discussing. Why should the votes of uninformed voters count just as much as those of informed citizens? A lot of these voters are essentially making blind decisions. Is this fair to informed voters? Could our government be better/more efficient if uninformed voters were taken out of the picture? Do you feel that a person should have a certain amount of knowledge about politics to be able to make decisions about them? Is there a difference between an informed voter who has no preference about a policy versus an uninformed voter who votes blindly? If most people aren’t interested in politics, should there be a political elite (say, 5% of the population) composed of informed voters to uphold democratic values? This also leads to the issue of how politics differs from other fields (like chemistry or medicine). It can be argued that policies in science and technology (for example, deciding to focus on researching solar energy instead of wind energy) are just as important as policies in politics, yet the average person doesn’t make decisions about those things mostly because he/she doesn’t know enough about them. So why is it that the average person isn’t allowed to vote on, for example, what topics modern physics should focus on but that he/she can vote on important social and political issues? Is there some sort of difference between the goal of politics and the goals of other crafts (to use Aristotle’s terminology)? I have a lot more to say about this, but I thought I’d keep it short because I didn’t want this post turning into an essay.