Welcome! This is a work in progress, detailing the problems I have with democracy. This is an unfinished and evolving work. I like the listing format I use because it allows me to add to the post without breaking the flow or narrative. I would consider this about 2/3 done thus far. I need to edit and add my sources in a proper way, but this should do for now as an extremely rough draft.
A huge problem democracy faces is the reality of negative externalities. In economics, an externality is a cost of something that is borne by other people that is over and above the cost of something. For example, gas at 4 dollars a gallon does not take into account the negative externality of pollution that results from driving. Democracy externalizes costs when voters approve of bad policies or candidates, as they very frequently do. It is everyone that must pay for the mistakes of the uninformed or irrational, not just the people who voted for the bad policies/politicians. This should strike people as eminently unfair. In a way, it is even worse than that, for some policies may continue to have negative effects for decades or more, meaning that the results of one election (and therefore the one time votes of a group of people) can have negative externalities for not only those now alive, but their children or even their grandchildren. The most prudent examples of these are the national debt and the creation of old age programs (Medicare, Social Security, etc.) Since policy, once made, is extremely difficult to overturn or change (owing to the general sluggishness and innate resistance to change in Washington), negative externalities are made increasingly more likely and will compound.
No Personal Consequences:
While negative externalities are a kind of consequence in themselves, voters in a democracy are not held personally responsible when they vote for bad policies or bad politicians. Unlike most our decisions in daily life (which have consequences, sometimes immediate ones), voting is a foreign project, one which not only has no negative personal consequences, but because of the nature of secret ballots, cannot have negative personal consequences. It is patently unethical that people, who can be counted on to make the most routine errors in judging the merits of politicians or policies which affect millions, are not in some way punished for their mistakes or prevented from making them again in the future. The idea that we face personal consequences for even the smallest of daily activities, yet face zero consequences for influencing machines of government that control the lives of 300+ million people is insane.
It is also worth noting that voting not only doesn't have personal consequences, it actually confers a personal gain. The feeling of doing one's civic duty, the thrill of voting for a winning candidate, those stupid “I voted” American flag stickers that we display to our friends and more are all positive personal consequences to voting. There should never be a system where the lives of so many people can be held in the balance by a system that has large positive benefits and absolutely no personal negative consequences, regardless of outcome.
Advocating that (in a fair system) certain people shouldn't be allowed to vote is about as heretical a thing as can be said in American politics, yet I find it clearly an ethical thing to point out. There is simply no reason why people who know nothing or who have systematic biases or errors that make their decisions about policy or politicians universally negative should be allowed to influence events that affect others. This is a principal failing of democracy: open enfranchisement as an ethical doctrine means that definitionally, a huge amount of people with no qualifications may one day be allowed to lord over those with them.
On the flip side, it should be noted that most of the people that we now deny franchise to are people that indeed deserve the right. It seems (once again) that Americans have not thought too seriously about their inconsistencies on the subject.
While it may sound like I'm advocating taking away the right of certain people to vote, it's not my aim. Since I do not like democracy in general, I'm merely analyzing it from an ethical and practical point of view and not looking to change enfranchisement rules. However, an overwhelming majority of Americans do hold to the idea that certain classes of people should not be allowed to vote, and they hold this idea for interesting reasons. I find that extending their principles about franchisement logically results in some policies that most would find extremely objectionable.
For example, Americans currently judge people under 18 years old to not have had sufficient knowledge or real world experience to be allowed to vote. This seems incredibly arbitrary, since the general principle behind it is not extended to all segments of the population. If being 17, ignorant and inexperienced in the world is grounds for denying franchise, why not deny it to a similarly (perhaps even more) ignorant and inexperienced 25 year old? Clearly the only criteria for disenfranchising a huge segment of the population is an arbitrary number. This is horrifying to me. Yet this is a spiral that democrats cannot get out of. Even the most liberal of democrat who may want to lower the voting age to 16 or 15 would never allow a 10 year old or an infant to vote. Why not?
Even if one doesn't believe that someone's lack of experience or knowledge are disqualifying factors, I would be willing to be that most everyone believes a lack of cognitive ability (like that of a 5 year old) should be a disqualifying factor. Then again, most people would not extend this principle to the elderly who are suffering cognitive declines. This is not the only area where Americans may have to deal with ethical inconsistency.
Further, we deny the right to vote in many places to people convicted of certain classes of crime. In many places, felons are not allowed to vote once they have been convicted. The wisdom of denying people who are most subject to the system's whims the ability to influence or change it should immediately make us rethink the idea. But why have people decided that felons should be stripped of this right? Society has judged certain people (and certain crimes, many of which are non-violent and even consensual) to be so injurious to the social fabric that they must be prohibited in the future from having influence.
However, Americans, like in the under 18 example, do not extend this principle to its logical point. If they did, they may find that some people have, over the course of their lifetimes, voted for candidates who objectively harmed the social or economic state of the country. Unlike the drug dealer or the bank robber (whose victims, if any, number in the single digits), shouldn't the people who voted for candidates whose policies adversely affected the entire economy (ie 300 million “victims) also have their franchise removed for the same reasons criminals now have theirs?
There is a principle that is not currently ascribed to by Americans that may need to be re-examined, the one of denying the franchise to uninformed or ignorant voters. Americans, while denying that an articulate and knowledgeable 17 year old and a felonious but non-violent drug user should be able to vote, would shriek in horror if it were suggested that people ignorant of even the most basic civics should not be allowed to vote. This is wholly inconsistent.
It is a statement of fact that so-called low information voters have decided each and every one of the razor thin presidential elections since 2000. The fact that the least educated among us wield the most power is not seen as the most pressing public issue goes to show how incredibly warped our sense of priority is. Since ignorant and irrational people do not vote at random and in fact have systematic biases or false beliefs, they are an incredible danger to stability and prosperity when they decide elections. Why should people like that be allowed to vote?
Americans would fall back on the freedom to vote argument. As an anarchist, I'm as huge a fan of freedom as one can be, but I believe that people do NOT have the “freedom” to make national policy FOR me against my direct opposition (and disgustingly on my behalf). If ignorant people want to live under the economic and social systems that they choose for themselves while leaving me out of the process, then by all means let the uninformed vote. However, as I've mentioned earlier, democracy is force and nobody has the right to use that kind of force on me unless I agree.
Democracy as Force:
Imagine the following scenario: you are a small child and you are playing in the dirt outside of your house, assuming for the moment that your mother or father allow you to be uninvigilated for longer than 30 seconds. You see several boys down the street playing football, but you decided that you'd rather not join them and play on your own. They line up, five against five and hoot and holler as they enjoy themselves. The situation takes a big turn when, after scoring a final touchdown, the winning team comes over to you and demands your week's allowance. You do the sensible thing and probe them, asking why. The biggest boy steps forward and says to you “we decided between the two teams that the winner would get your allowance money.” Even as a child, this strikes you as incredibly immoral. How can a large group of people decide, against your will, to take something from you? When you protest, the large boy reminds you that you could have played with them, potentially altering the outcome, but chose not to.
This is a simple enough thought experiment, but compare and contrast that situation to the notion of democracy. You are the little boy, even if you try to rationalize it or dress it up in philosophical trappings. Living in America, you cannot opt out of the system, so you have few options. You can refuse to participate. Yet the decisions of others when it comes to policy still affect you and require your adherence even if you do not participate. Democracy is force, pure and simple. Since I find the Non-Aggression Principle (as defined in the Introduction) to be a good moral axiom, I cannot abide initiative force. The democrat may argue that this kind of force is a “necessary” initiation of force, but he should then find himself enslaved by the same logic when someone else decides their idea of ruling (especially one that he opposes) is “necessary”.
Your other option is to participate under duress or protest. Even if you, as the little boy, decided to play on one of the football teams in hopes of winning (for the sake of keeping your allowance money), wouldn't the game and the wager still be an immoral thing, having been initiated and decided upon without your say-so? The same thing is true of the defensive voter (as he's called rather rudely in America today). He hates the system, the policies and the politicians who run it, yet he sees an election as a small chance to relieve himself, however slightly, of the beatings of his masters. Even his consent to vote in the system is not an any way a repudiation of the idea that the system itself is force. Lysander Spooner summed this problem up nicely over 100 years ago:
“As taxation is made compulsory on all, whether they vote or not, a large proportion of those who vote, no doubt do so to prevent their own money being used against themselves; when, in fact, they would have gladly abstained from voting alone, if they could thereby have saved themselves from taxation alone, to say nothing of being saved from all the other usurpations and tyrannies of the government. To take a man's property without his consent, and then to infer his consent because he attempts, by voting, to prevent that property from being used to his injury, is a very insufficient proof of his consent...”
Conflict of Interest:
In common practice (and even sometimes codified into law) is the idea that when making important decisions in legal matters, one must be free of conflicts of interest. A judge, no matter how fair and impartial, will never be allowed to preside over the trial of his own wife for murder. Even a hint of a potential and minor conflict of interest can cause over-cautiousness in public matters. Even in areas where there aren't legal restrictions, people are often judged harshly if they have conflicts of interest. Due to the size and scope of the federal government, nearly every person now has a conflict of interest when it comes to voting in federal elections and thus, as common practice, should either recuse themselves or be barred from voting.
A baby boomer on Social Security (who, statistics tell us, has received about 3 dollars to every 1 dollar he paid into the system over his lifetime) who votes for a candidate with a platform of increasing Social Security payouts is suffering from a massive conflict of interest. In common practice, that person either would have his right to vote rescinded (at least his federal vote) or he would be limited to casting votes to candidates who either have no stance on Social Security or who actively want to cut it.
Since so many Americans work for the federal or state government, their entire livelihood is sometimes predicated on a certain candidate being elected. In any other area of life, they would be judged as unable to impartially make the decision and would either be prevented from voting or severely ostracized for doing so. Take a contemporary example: the extension of unemployment benefits was a hot button issue right before the election in 2010. Those currently on unemployment and hoping for an extension in their free money had a massive and intractable conflict of interest.
Several other groups of people have innate conflicts of interest. Schoolteachers, welfare recipients, city/state/federal employees, employees of companies that contract with governments, sometimes even lowly grocery store clerks. A small anecdote: I was working for a Kroger-owned subsidiary grocery store in 2012. The union I belonged to, The United Commercial Foodworkers Union, was lobbying to pass a bill that would outlaw the construction of new Wal-Mart Superstores in the metropolitan area where I lived at the time. The union made it clear it would put pressure on politicians (in an election year) to support this measure. Since the union would exhort candidates who were willing to pass the bill and encourage employees to vote for them, many people (some of whom would fail an elementary school civics test and who had no otherwise entanglement with government) were forced into a situation in which they had a potential conflict of interest. Indeed, people who may have not voted may now have a reason to vote. It is incredibly frightening that democracy enables people who might normally not vote to do so, and only to do so for a single issue from which they themselves will benefit.
The Problem of Time Span:
Democracy creates regimes, and those regimes last anywhere from 2 to 4 to even 6 or 8 years long. For many people, this is an incredibly short period of time. For others, this is an incredibly long period of time. Since both groups are locked into the same system, both must languish under the uncertainty that both perceptions of time span bring.
The term “Regime uncertainty” has gained some currency lately. The idea of regime uncertainty is that, because large businesses and institutions must make predictions or plan for the future, having a short interval (say 2 or 4 years) in between potentially widely varying policies or regimes means that there are no effective means to predict or plan how a future regime may change policies. As a result, capital is underutilized, investments are either not made, or are made more risky. A company creating widgets under a Republican administration may not be able to allocate its capital or plan expenditures with a degree of accuracy if an election looms overhead in which a Democratic candidate promises to raise the corporate tax rates.
This is a major problem in a robust economy, to say nothing of a fledgling economy like we have now. The uncertainty over the passage, delay and potential repealing of the Obamacare law has caused some severe amounts of headaches and financial worries for thousands of businesses. A Republican Party promise to repeal it upon election would further frustrate those businesses who have spent so long complying with its onerous requirements in the first place.
Regime uncertainty generally means worrying about varying policies between presidents or party control of congress, but with the razor thin margins in public opinion and congressional representation, regime uncertainty now can be thought of as an uncertainty from month to month (or indeed even week to week) within the current regime. Since politicians are ever vigilant about the pulse of public opinion, policy changes may be rescinded or major planks of proposed legislation may be removed wholesale depending on public outcry.
The other group of people see 4 years as an incredibly long period of time. Buyer's remorse is a well understood phenomena, and even if it's slightly more unlikely in democracy, the election of a candidate one did not like, or the election of a candidate one did like but now doesn't is insufferable at that time span. Companies that may have been hoping for deregulation in a certain industry (or on the flip side, a subsidy in one) to compete may have to wait for more friendly overlords if their preferred candidate does not win. Imagine a budding solar panel company slogging through 4 years of a Republican presidency after having federal loans revoked or not renewed.
Having such a long interval between regime changes also causes the sort of political fighting that we see so prevalently today. With a president in his second term, the opposition party will spend that president's last four years doing everything they can do discredit his party and to portray it as ineffectual and unworthy of leadership. It will attempt to deny the opposing party the ability to achieve positive legislative gains, no matter how it may affect the country.
Because of our current system of democracy, the time span problem (as mentioned above) wreaks massive havok on people who, but for the lack of democracy, would be able to direct their resources with more efficiency and more predictive power. The opportunity costs (the unseen costs of what we could have done instead of what we did) are massive. Democracy as is currently practiced requires the whole of America to be locked into its system, which eliminates outlier areas that may try differing systems of governance. Maintaining a system of democracy means that every other style of governance, or even the possibility of no governance is not tried, nor even considered. The amount of knowledge (to say nothing of potential economic gain) we do not acquire because of the unquestionable loyalty people have in democracy is astounding.
Worse still, the longer democracy persists, the more it becomes an institution that is venerated and seen as above reproach. Since Americans are notoriously reluctant to change things (even when they can be demonstrated to be harmful), this makes democracy like an ever-hardening cement that cannot be challenged.
Mostly everyone agrees today that the political climate is toxic and that bipartisanship in Congress prevents meaningful action. This is a heavy criticism, but looking at the opportunity cost of having this system makes it all the more salient. While Congress dawdles over the subject of health care, real people and entrepreneurs and insurance companies must sit idly by awaiting the outcome, rather than innovating, tinkering or optimizing their current system. In the age of the Internet, the cost of having a representative democracy like this (to the exclusion of all other systems or even trial-and-error attempts at other systems) is incalculable.
Voter Ignorance and Irrationality:
There have been entire books written on this topic, but it is still important to be long-winded on the subject. In any democracy, there exists a huge segment of the population that knows little to nothing about most of the issues and that have systematic biases or are thinking emotionally on the issues they do know something about. Bryan Caplan's book The Myth of the Rational Voter delves into the institutional biases that most of the electorate seem to have on just the subject of economics. Since economics is really the most important issue in every election (since social change is almost always brought about at a societal level and not by legislation), it is incredibly important that people understand economics. Since most people give incorrect answers to even basic economics questions all the while knowing the trivial minutiae of celebrity gossip, it can be said that Americans must not care much about economics. However, every opinion poll seems to contradict this. Caplan writes, citing the polls:
“...If you classify “social welfare” issues like welfare, the environment, and health care as economic, then economic issues are “the most important problem” in every election year from 1972 to 2000.”
This is a classic problem of American democracy: the stated values vs. actual values. If Americans think the economy is the most important thing in every election yet have done little to nothing to learn about its basic principles, then we must look at actions and not words. Since actions show us that Americans will vote to impose economic policy on all their neighbors without really knowing anything about the subject, we can conclude that at the very least, democracy has become an engine of imposed ignorance.
Granted, there's nothing wrong with not knowing any of these things in and of itself. It's only when the person, gleefully ignorant, marches into a voting booth and lends his or her weight onto the fulcrum of power that problems arise. There's nothing wrong with not knowing chemistry, but one would hope that person doesn't venture into a lab with volatile chemicals, or pretend to teach a chemistry class.
This is why well-meaning but mindless programs like “Rock the Vote” are actually extraordinarily dangerous things. This campaign glorifies two of the most disgusting phenomena in the current political climate: firstly, the open call for people with no qualifications or interest in politics and current events to elect rulers and secondly, the “safe” politics where people (usually celebrities and your Facebook friends) take strong and passionate stands about things that nobody could possibly disagree with.
Since low information voters decide a lot of important elections, “Rock the Vote” can be seen as a glorification of ignorant participation, an encouragement of narrow-minded civic duty bolstered by sly pop culture manipulations. The neologism “slacktivism” seems especially salient here. If anything, there should be a campaign that encourages low information voters not to vote. Somehow I doubt that Jessica Alba would want to be the face of the “Block the Vote” campaign.
Caplan comes up with a concept that he calls “rational irrationality” to explain why so many uninformed and irrational people vote. Caplan suggests that because people do not pay a direct price for their irrationalities while voting (because one vote is extremely unlikely to affect the outcome of an election) , that it is rational for them to remain irrational given the benefits they get from maintaining their irrationalities.
Extending his point a bit further, the main idea is that since the payoff one gets for voting (the civic pride felt, the signaling to one's peers, the feeling of being part of a historic movement, etc) is exactly the same no matter how much effort you spend to understand the issues or work on any systematic biases you may have, it's rational from a cost/benefit analysis not to become informed or to correct your biases. If the man who listens to NPR and reads the newspapers 20 hours a week becoming informed about current events gets no more upside than a 20-something stoner who voted thanks to a “Rock the Vote” campaign, why even bother learning anything?
It may even be worse than all of that. It seems to me that the uninformed voters get more out of voting than the informed, since they are often convinced that this election is “the most important ever” or that a candidate (say, a certain current American President) is part of an unprecedented movement to change America. Sober (both intellectually and physically) and historically-minded informed voters are usually immune to this kind of frenzy-whipping, so it's altogether possible that they face an even smaller upside for all their hard work than does the uninformed voter. To say that the incentives are completely backwards is a massive understatement.
The Electoral College:
While specifically an American invention, this system should be every democrat's worst nightmare, but even the idea of modifying this system to increase fairness is met with hostility. What most confounds me is how undemocratic the system is, yet it is praised by democrats time and again.
As to its inherently hostile relationship to democracy, anybody who concludes otherwise after December of 2000 is talking nonsense. It's entirely possible (and even predictable) that somebody could win the Electoral College without winning the popular vote. YouTube user CGPGrey has an incredible video about the Electoral College in which he calculates that a president could win the election with only 22% of the popular vote. It's possible because smaller states get away with murder when it comes to the amount of electoral votes per citizen they get (Wyoming citizens get 3 electoral votes, 1 per xxxxxxxxx people and California gets only 1 per xxxxxx people. And since a candidate need only get 51% (or even less if a third party candidate does well) in the state to collect all the electoral votes (with Maine and Nebraska as exceptions), he or she could win the smaller states by a slim margin and emerge victorious getting less percentage of the total vote than what Ross Perot ever got. Granted, this scenario is highly unlikely, but, as the video points out, people would not endorse a sport or a game that had a likelihood where the loser could actually become the winner, so why would we base our entire democracy on such a standard?
The Electoral College is also undemocratic in that campaigns are likely to focus on only a few key states, making promises to voters in Pennsylvania, Florida, Ohio and so forth. Why should states citizens be cozied up to and promised goodies or special attention solely because they happen to have a certain demography? This only exacerbates the Hubris of Distance problem, which briefly says that the further away and less knowledgeable one is about a certain social, religious, cultural or geographic region one is, the more likely one is to make errors when making policy for that area. Since Idaho and Utah are solidly Republican, a Democrat campaigning in those states is seen as a waste of time under the Electoral College system, so the candidate will not visit there, or will only perform a token visit as it passes through into a battleground state. If that Democrat is then elected, he will be making and crafting policy for the very places he did not visit and likely does not understand.
The Electoral College is the number one reason that a viable third party does not (and probably cannot) arise. Using another admittedly unlikely scenario, imagine a third party candidate who won three or four big states and did well in several other states. It's entirely likely that he'd win the popular vote (though probably by a plurality and not a majority) and get devastated in the electoral college vote. It's no wonder now why citizens (and especially Democrats) prefer the lesser of two evils approach. Sticking your neck out for a third party candidate only ensures that your second choice party gets less votes. This wouldn't happen in some other countries who have several vibrant parties and a more rational approach to elections(more on that in the Problem of Elections section).
The Hubris of Distance
Dianne Feinstein, a liberal Senator from San Francisco, crafts and votes on legislation that binds people in rural Kansas as well as her constituents. Let that sink in a minute. That should almost be enough on its own to persuade us that we need to rethink national democracy, especially in a country so giant and diverse as ours. The same goes for a Kansas senator who thinks he has enough insight to create legislation for godless California megacities.
On a cross country trip lasting the better part of two years, my girlfriend and I had a rule that we had to spend a night in each state as we traversed the vastness of the American landscape. We eventually made it through all 48 continental states. Yet, having done this (and done so explicitly with an eye for studying different cultures and systems of governance), I would never feel comfortable about making laws or addressing problems that arise in metropolitan Georgia. I certainly wouldn't be comfortable delegating that right to someone else. I wouldn't even feel comfortable about making laws for the the large city nearest to me, though I reside in one of its suburbs. I cannot know nearly enough about the workings and culture of a city (even one that I live near) to think that I could create a top-down system that both solves problems now and provides an inoculation against future ones. I can imagine that at most 10 percent of Americans have been to more than half the states in the country, yet they act (by way of voting and via opinion polls) in a way that demonstrates that ideological, cultural and regional differences don't exist, or if they do, can be overcome by the collective wisdom of John Q. Public.
It's a simple heuristic: the further removed we are from places and cultures we seek to control, the more likely we are to commit errors and cause problems, and the more likely we are to look stupid while doing so. This is as simple and true as a statement can get, but it has apparently not penetrated in the halls of Washington (nor behind the cloth of the voting booths across America for that matter). It seems to me that the above proposition on its own would severely weaken, if not annihilate the wisdom of having a federal government over such a large and diverse place as the United States, to say nothing of allowing people from such disparate areas to grant them this right.
I do not know if it is even possible to have a vast enough understanding of the various social, cultural, religious, ethnic and bioregional differences between areas in this country to be able to adequately choose somebody by way of election to craft legislation for all of them. One might be tempted to say that this isn't a problem, since we only vote for legislators in our particular area. This does not obviate the problem. For one, these huge differences occur even within states. Anyone who has ever been to California knows this. Secondly, the things we demand from our representatives are usually national initiatives, so we are not just electing people to watch over our affairs in our state and district. Thirdly, the combined weight of the Senate (and especially the House) on passing legislation by definition runs roughshod over the previously mentioned differences. Getting 98 Senators and 434 Congressmen to all be especially concerned about the impact of a certain piece of legislation on Wyoming is just not going to happen.
The Hubris of Expertise
The hubris intensifies when we elect a president. A man or woman campaigning for president is saying, not even hinting, that he or she knows the best way to solve a good portion of America's problems, or that he can delegate the task to someone of his choosing (which is really saying the same thing in a different way). Think of a book you've read lately by a research scientist or professor. Some of them will have dedicated their entire lives to study in a narrow sub-field and are world-renowned in that particular field. It may be the role that psychopathy plays in human interactions; it may be a way to model risk more appropriately in the future and so on. Many of these experts have real confidence in speaking about only a tiny fraction of America's problems and this confidence has been extremely hard won.
A presidential candidate (like, say, John McCain, who once admitted in 2008 that he didn't know much about economics) is a person who is more or less an expert at getting elected. The idea that they can solve complex issues like economic issues (on some of which even expert economists themselves disagree), environmental issues, social issues, etc. should be laughable to anyone. But to hear a stump speech, you'd think you were dealing with a man who has spent 40 years studiously poring over every subject relating to politics. They know how to fine tune the leviathan machine that is the United States military to achieve all America's foreign policy goals. They know just where 3.8 trillion dollars should be allocated, and they know how to do these calculations every single year. They know how to fix the problem of health care. They know how to perfectly manipulate the millions of regulations in the financial sector to achieve both a robust flow of capital AND ethical practices from large financial institutions. They know how best to achieve energy independence. They know which commodity prices to manipulate and when. They know which industries to favor in legislation to make an optimal outcome and they know which businesses in a given industry should be given a leg up over their competitors. They know just how the money supply and interest rates should be changed in order to keep inflation low and credit high. They know ALL of this, plus they implicitly are saying that they know in advance how to deal with issues that may come up, such as complex world events that they've had no previous time to ponder. They are also saying that they have crafted their stances on all these issues in such a way as to make the risk of side effects or unintended consequences virtually nil.
This is all madness, of course. Throw in 535 more people to the mix, it does not improve much at all. Do such experts exist? Surely they do not, and even if they did, would the electorate be able to tell their genuine skill apart from the usual crowd of hucksters? It doesn't seem likely. What if one did exist and was crafty enough to get elected? How would he fare as 1 of 100 Senators or 1 of 435 Congressmen? We just do not have people like this in existence, yet every election is an almost joyful hyping of our pet candidate as though he were this mythical figure. It's scary to think of the qualifications that the people we elect do have.
Look at the professions of people in power (mostly lawyers) and you get the sense that the only thing the federal government is good at is law. Washington is a good place for one who is good at creating, manipulating, adjudicating and reinterpreting law. This is a scary concept and a far cry from the expert we wish we had. Yet these are the people we pull the levers for. It may be self-serving to think that such an ubermensch or a group of them exists and that they need our support, but it is still arrogance to believe that they know enough and that, by extension, we know enough to grant them the opportunity to lead.