Vanity thought #573. Another dumb democratic development

Sorry, can’t pass it – one Reuters journalist wrote an article (expressing her own views, thank God) that has been syndicated all over the world.

She talks about giving voting rights to children.

In support of this idea she cites two scholars who proposed this for their own reasons. One is economic, in a roundabout way arguing that inequality is closely related to low social mobility, and low social mobility can be cured by giving people more rights, in this case letting children vote.

Another reason is demographic – in aging societies too much power gets concentrated in the hands of people with no future and so it can be diluted by giving more voice to youngsters. In that proposal it was actually the mothers who would get an extra vote for each of their children.

That last one sounds very reasonable from our point of view, in a sense that it recognizes that not every vote is equal and some people carry more responsibility than others. While talking about children’s votes it actually says that mothers should have more say in how society should shape its future because they have a bigger stake in it – by taking future concerns of their children more seriously than one-day-wonder, get-rich-quick politicians or quarter-by-quarter businessmen.

Of course looking at it from this angle would be totally unacceptable to the original proponents.

Most compelling arguments for children’s votes are emotional ones – about universal suffrage, about denying children fundamental rights of citizenship and other such cheap rhetoric.

My local paper carries Calvin and Hobbes comic strip and Calvin has been “voting” on his father’s performance for years but now I’m afraid it’s not a joke anymore and some people are dead serious about it.

“Scholars” who think that children can make responsible choices about our policies and our future are clearly delusional. Sexual predators are known to traumatize children for the rest of their lives in exchange for a few candies, how anyone can trust a child’s judgment is beyond me.

I don’t understand how anyone can assume that children would vote with their future interests at heart. What do they know about their future? I see a huge increase in government funding for firemen, teachers and astronauts, which is probably not a bad thing but that’s not how it should be accomplished. There would also be a lot more guns and lasers and every family would own a tank.

More alarming is that this proposal might be enthusiastically taken by politicians who have run out of demographics to support them, say US Republicans who do not have enough aging white men to vote them in the office anymore. Preying on innocent kids under the guise of universal rights is an even more obvious fraud than liberating women from husbands’ protection to be freely exploited in the marketplace.

Still, as I said, I would support giving more voice to mothers than to single women.

Ultimately, in the varnashrama society, there should be very few decision takers and there would be no challengers, but all decisions should be taken only with benefits of Krishna and one’s dependants in mind.

Democracy encourages free expression of self-interest instead, hoping that it would level itself out as suffrage expands to include more and more society members.

Today it’s children, tomorrow it will be cats and dogs. After all, a society should be judged by how it treats its weakest members, and so its voiceless members like cats and dogs should be provided with voting rights, too.

To add more silliness to this – we are already on top of it because in varnashrama children have always been voting on their future – during the famous Anna-prasna ceremony where along with first grains children are given a choice of coins, Srimad Bhagavatam, toys etc. Parents then are supposed to honor that first, practically unconscious choice.

Actually they are not, it’s just an indicator of things to come, not a prescription of what to do. In Kali Yuga we do not take these things seriously and should judge people only by their actual qualities.

I don’t know how people are not yet tired of all these “improvements” that come with increased frequency and become increasingly radical. Everybody and his dog want to be an acharya, capable of transforming our tradition according to time, place, and circumstances.

Wherever you turn there’s a wannabe acharya lurking in the background, ready to pounce in. Rittviks, gay devotees, FDG, veganism, bhakti-fests, Krishna cruises, chanting Gauranga on beads – you name it, they’ve got an acharya for you. There’s no such thing as tradition anymore, only mad proposals illuminated by promises of the bright future.

I think it’s okay to get cynical sometimes, I think it’s a healthy attitude towards “progress”.

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