Rick Shenkman, in Politico Magazine, made reference on September 8, 2019 to an article published by Shawn Rosenberg, Professor of Professor of Political Science and Psychological Science in the University of California.
Rosenberg predicts “In well-established democracies like the United States, democratic governance will continue its inexorable decline and will eventually fail.”
First of all, the affirmation is contradictory; a well-established democracy is stable and will not fail.
“Our brains.” says Rosenberg, “are proving fatal to modern democracy. Humans just aren’t built for it”.
Human brains are not built either to speak, to write, or even to eat with fork, knife and dishes, for mathematics, for using computers or to enjoy to classical music, etc., they have to learn all that.
But human brains are built to be curious, to learn and invent. One invention is democracy, and we can teach it to others.
It is obvious Mr. Rosenberg does not know well democracies that work far better than the US. He seems to generalise from his particular knowledge.
What Mr. Rosenberg could do is live in Switzerland for a few years to observe Swiss direct democracy at work.
He will see that, even if the “human brain is not wired for democracy” (it does not have to be), democracy can work reasonably well, certainly better than in the US and most other “established”, “advanced” countries.
The key is direct democracy; when the citizens have more decision-making power than the elected representatives, when they don’t just vote to elect others, when they make political decisions. This is “government by the people”; it means citizens handle the effects of their decisions. When that happens, they decide very responsibly. This is why Switzerland is the best governed country in the World.
But Mr. Rosenberg, unfortunately, says other “interesting gems”. Again, I quote Politico:
“He has concluded that the reason for right-wing populists’ recent success is that elites are losing control of the institutions that have traditionally saved people from their most undemocratic impulses. When people are left to make political decisions on their own, they drift towards the simple solutions right-wing populists worldwide offer: a deadly mix of xenophobia, racism and authoritarianism”.
Anyone who says “the elites are losing control of the institutions that have traditionally saved people from their most undemocratic impulses,” is an elitist, not a democrat.
Where does he get the idea that people have “undemocratic impulses”? The people do not have undemocratic, or democratic impulses, but I know humans have the impulse to find freedom and respect, which is what democracy is about.
As for his affirmation: “When people are left to make political decisions on their own they drift towards the simple solutions right-wing populists worldwide offer: a deadly mix of xenophobia, racism and authoritarianism.”
Switzerland proves, decade after decade, that when the people make the key decisions they decide responsibly, they do not fall for populists or demagogues of the right or the left.
Reject Mr. Rosenberg’s wrong and harmful views. It is time we fight everywhere, with arguments, people like him, who transmit to the next generation wrong ideas that weaken democracy.
I suppose it is not Mr. Rosenberg’s intention, but his words undermine democracy and strengthen the arguments of the enemies of democracy.
The foolishness impulse it is obvious exists. Perhaps democracy is too much for Mr. Rosenberg.
The rest of us should push now for direct democracy, to avoid the collapse of representative democracy by neutralizing bad ideas, of which Mr. Rosenberg is, sadly, not the only generator.