”One-man-one vote will not work for Ghana; only a selected few must vote.”– Kofi Amoabeng; on Kafui Dey Show – February 23, 2023.
This sort of musing may appeal to a section of society. But it bears scant insight, upon scrutiny. Evolution of society became possible because, long ago, Sapiens learned from Mother Nature: division of labor. (We observe this in simple, as well as complex biological systems. The human body exemplifies efficiencies that are derived from, say, organ specialization and cooperation.)
A patient doesn’t have to know why he is presenting a set of symptoms. It is a physician who makes a diagnosis and prescribes a treatment. The patient is not held to ridicule for not knowing the cause of their malady. Nor is their protected right to choose and see one doctor, instead of another, abridged for the lack of medical knowledge.
A driver doesn’t have to understand the engineering principles that make the internal combustion engine possible. The vehicle is put together by engineers. It suffices that the driver has mastered the skill of driving a motorcar. Not schooled in complex engineering skills doesn’t derogate a person’s ability to pick and choose a vehicle, from among dozens, to drive.
A democratic enterprise, too, is a seminal trade in division of effort. It is efficient to elect representatives to discharge duties that affect the common good. The social compact is unambiguous. Public officeholders are judged not based on performative chatter, but on credible deeds, they achieve for society. The average citizen doesn’t have to be a public policy specialist to judge whether promises have been delivered. Citizens know it when they see a good deed. This criterion alone justifies their right, ability, and willingness to vote. (They don’t need a PhD to have common sense.)
Our Constitution outlines the aspirations of our society. It spells out, in the broadest outline, how we may proceed to achieve these aspirations. Competitive politics is a means to implement the letter of the constitution. It accords with the UN principle of universal adult suffrage. In word and in spirit, ours is not an aristocracy, a plutocracy, theocracy, or monarchy. We are a democracy. Those who govern derive their legitimacy from the consent of our citizens. They are mere representatives -subordinate to the citizenry. There is nothing special about them.
Further, our Constitution empowers the executive branch, the legislature, and the judiciary to discharge their specified duties to advance the common weal. The political parties make claims, through manifestos, as to what they can deliver to society. When elected, if they fail to deliver their promises, who is to blame? The citizen? If public officers neglect their duties – while engaging in rapacious greed, rent-seeking and, in some cases, outright incompetence, and vote-buying – is it fair to blame the voter?
To put it mildly, it would be ignoble to suggest that a citizen, of legal age and of sound mind, needed some other qualification before they could vote. That would be an aristocratic gobbledygook. Delightfully, that’d be unconstitutional.
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