How to go from mob rule to intelligent rule?

This blog entry is related to the poll:What can we do to improve our democracy? (Total: 4 posts)
It is discussing the poll topics:
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This web site is dedicated to improving our democracies.
But I can help but pondering about the nature of democracy itself.

As noted in our wiki page about democracy:
Jefferson may have said:

Democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where 51% of the people may take away the rights of the other 49%.

How to go from mob rule to intelligent rule?

I can't help but feeling intrigued by Fred's proposal he calls: Practical Democracy (see tag above). I am not completely won over, but his proposal provides an answer to many "features" of our (so-called) democracies that have been bothering me.

The question is not really: how to establish majority rule, but how to select the public servants that are best able to serve the common good. More importantly, how to do that without falling in the traps of oligarchy, party politics, special interests, and, worse of all, money politics. In those aspects, Practical Democracy would perform quite well.


The Route From Mob Rule To Intelligent Rule

Whether or not Jefferson said "Democracy is nothing more than mob rule ...", that is a perspective shared by many people. So many, in fact, that majority rule is taken to be the meaning of democracy. We should re-think that definition. The Merriam-Webster dictionary offers two primary definitions for the word, 'democracy':

  1. government by the people; especially rule of the majority.
  2. a government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections.

The first fits with the idea of 'mob rule'; it supports the notion that "the people" are an amorphous mass that governs en bloc. Those who believe in Direct Democracy believe this is the proper definition of 'democracy'. One of the several problems with that interpretation is the well-demonstrated and documented susceptibility of the people to influence by the media. A Direct Democracy regime would be dominated by the elites who were most effective in the use of the mass media.

The second definition should inspire more careful thought. It allows consideration of the fact that "the people" is made up of a large number of differentiated individuals, some of whom are better able to represent their peers than others.

The route from mob rule to intelligent rule will be via a sifting mechanism that seeks out and elevates the citizens with the greatest ability to resolve adversarial issues to the advantage of the community.