In keeping with my interest in the way the Democratic party presidential primaries shape up, I have been following Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama for sometime now.

As of yesterday, based on a poll conducted by CNN – if the primaries were to be held today – Hillary would get 37% of votes ( and consequently be the Democratic nominee). Obama, inspite of all the recent hype over his book-signing tour, would only get 17%.

Apart from that, there is this recent buzz around how Obama and Osama are so phonetically close, there is a chance that voters might be “confused”. Confused! Its true!

Which leads me to one of my pet peeves about democracy as a political institution.

For all its positives, Democracy runs on a basic premise – that all human beings (or atleast the voting citizens of a particular country) have equal “qualifications/mental/political acumen” and therefore have an equal stake, an equal right and consequently, an equal vote, come Election Day.

Now consider this: There are 2 neighbours: A and B. They have approximately similar household incomes, similar education, similar aspirations, similar spending patterns etc. In other words, they pay similar taxes, indulge in same spending patterns etc.

However, that is where the similarity ends. While A consciously makes an effort to follow World News, read about political events and impacts, listen to nuanced debates on NPR and absorb other intelligent media, B drinks beer, barbecues, watches football – and yes occasionally, Fox and Friends.

So consequently, while A knows about and appreciates the nuanced political positions of each Presidential aspirant on major issues of the day and can therefore make an educated decision to vote, B gets confused between Osama and Obama. Yet, when they both vote – both their votes are equal.

And that, I think is a fundamental weak point of democracy. Of “socializing” the human race. Not that there is any other easy way around it – because any qualification of masses has always historically been broadly drawn with brushes of ethnicity, race, religion and some other such generic, divisive marker.

But shouldn’t opinions be weighed based on one’s mental ability or lack thereof. Cannot a democratic system evolve that provides equal rights to all – but somehow the process of voting precludes those who confuse Osama with Obama.

That’s a pretty low bar isn’t it?


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