Hi-Phi Nation

Demons of Democracy

Is mandatory voting a good thing?

On this episode, preschool kids get their first taste of democratic participation when they vote on their class name, and private schools try to display the value of democracy by making kids vote on everything, even the school budget. Does it work, or do kids make terrible decisions?

One diagnosis of our modern-day political problems is that too many stupid people are voting for stupid things. There are two proposed fixes: mandate that everyone vote, so as to diminish the power of ignorant and irrational voters; or find ways to disenfranchise misinformed people. This week, we examine both proposals, whether compulsory voting is a solution to the problems of democracy and whether getting rid of democracy altogether can be wise or just.  We look at Sudbury Valley School and Brooklyn Free School, democratic schools where people who are thought too ignorant and irrational to vote are given democratic power. Do these schools offer any lessons for our democratic problems?

Guest voices include Jill Sheppard, Jason Brennan, Noleca Radway, Jonathan Ho, and alumnae of democratic schools.

In the Slate Plus segment, we look at how the compulsory voting system in Australia works, examine whether compulsory voting has consistent policy implications, and consider arguments that it is an infringement on liberty.

For all back episodes from Seasons 1 and 2 of Hi-Phi Nation, visit www.hiphination.org.

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