Everyone has an idea on how to improve the country. Some of them get thrown around in memes on the internet and shared by people who say “Great idea!” without ever thinking about what that idea really means.
Here’s one of my recent favorites:
In case you can’t read it well, it says: “I think we should have Congress take an exam on every national bill (e.g. Obamacare) to make sure they understand the bill, its positive and negative consequences, and write an essay showing their knowledge of the bill and how it affects all social classes in America. Bring in Unviersity professors to proctor and watch for cheating, and if they don’t pass the exam, they don’t get to vote on the bill.”
What a great idea! Now, how do we pick the university professors and make sure they are writing the exams fairly? Oh, I know! We’ll elect them! And then we can make sure they’re doing their job right by making them run for re-election every few years. And we can have debates and interviews so we can make an informed decision about these professors…
Wait a minute…
Simple solutions are often just that — simple. And often, it boils down to the most basic question in a democracy: Who decides? Who decides that they passed the exam? Who chooses the exam givers?
When people say we should limit hateful speech, the next question should be “who decides what speech is hateful?” When someone says we should use religious law in America, we should ask “Who decides which religion?” Who decides is what democracy is all about.
The bottom line to me though is that when someone demands that we allow college professors make these decisions, I’d like that person to be able to spell the word “university.”