Political Confessional: Democracy Is Overrated. I Want An Oligarchy.



Welcome to Political Confessional, a column about the views that Americans are scared to share with their friends and neighbors. If you have a political belief that you’re willing to share with us, fill out this form — we might get in touch.

Here’s Matt, a 32-year-old white man from Massachusetts who works in publishing. When Matt first got in touch, he wrote:

Democracy is pretty overrated. I would be totally content with a benevolent oligarchy making policy decisions for me. I’m not an expert in medicine, so I don’t decide who gets to be a doctor, and I’m not an expert in engine repair, so I don’t decide who gets to be a mechanic. Since I’m also not an expert in government, so why insist that I decide who governs me?

As Americans, we are so thoroughly conditioned to hold voting rights sacred and to insist that we have a say in our government. I think we’d all be a lot happier if we worried less about who was running for what office and let someone else make those decisions for us, but to a lot of people that sounds downright un-American.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Clare Malone: How did you come to this position about democracy?

Matt: Something that got me started thinking about this was all the nastiness that happened after the last presidential election. There’s this guy who was my best friend growing up and apparently he no longer speaks with his parents because of disagreements over politics. And to me, that’s just absurd. I have a particular religious conviction that the family is the fundamental unit of society. And I think that if our politics are getting in the way of that rather than enforcing it, we’re doing something wrong.

I think a lot of people get worked up over things that they aren’t in a position control, and that makes them really unhappy. People would be a lot happier if they gave themselves permission not to care about election outcomes.

CM: Do you have examples of things that people get really worked up over that they can’t actually control?

Matt: There are certain public figures who become very well-known nationally, especially in the age of having information available instantaneously. People like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, for instance. She’s not my congressperson. It shouldn’t really matter to me what she’s doing. But I think most marginally informed people have heard of her, and probably all of those people have a very strong opinion of her. I’m not immune to that. But if you take a step back, why should I? Why is it worth me getting invested in what this person from a different state is talking about? I think the instinct is to take being informed as a per se good. I don’t know if that’s the best thing because, in the end, what are you going to do about that?

CM: What should people be doing with all that space that politics and news inhabits in their life?

Matt: I think attending to making yourself a better person, improving personal relationships. You could look to your community, strengthen bonds with your neighbors and local businesses and education and that sort of thing.

CM: Let’s talk about your benevolent oligarchy. What do you mean by “benevolent oligarchy”? What does it look like? What kind of policies are they enacting? Who are these people?

Matt: These are people who are genuine experts in the things they’re tasked with running. I want an economist who is going to make data-driven decisions about doing things with the economy, and I want that person to…

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