“The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.” So (allegedly) said Winston Churchill. And who’s to disagree?
Exhibit A: the comments to my recent column on the ABC’s Drum, which bemoans that “we have stopped discriminating between argument and sophistry.” Seems few in the comments – even those who appear to agree – attempted to do just that in the spirit of elevating the debate. Instead, it wallowed in the usual name calling and obtuse table thumping. Irony died a little that day.
But what I want to do now is go beyond the call to arms for reasonable people and wonder what to do about the unreasonable ones, given the votes of both are weighted the same.
Often raised in this context is the debate between compulsory versus voluntary voting, such that the disengaged or apathetic are less likely to vote than the engaged and informed.
But I want to sideline that debate for now and get to a more fundamental question of electoral reform: should voters have to pass some kind of test before they qualify to vote?