H L Mencken wrote that for every complex question there is an obvious answer that is clear, simple and wrong.
And you know, probably never has a more true word been spoken especially if you look at our troubled times in 2016.
Remember the simple answers that the Brexiters poured all over the UK electorate to manipulate them into voting to leave the EU?
Remember the simplistic answers Trump gave the US electors to get them to vote for him?
Or how about ‘Brexit means Brexit’, just about the only thing of note our Prime Minister has had to say about the result and dire consequences of the EU Referendum. Trouble is that off the cuff phrase is not clear, obvious or simple but it certainly is wrong headed!
Daily we are bombarded with simple solutions to the most complex of problems. Sadly, some of us actually do think that there are such simple, obvious and clear answers. Indeed, we don’t even bother to think about why, or at whose behest we are being sent the simple solutions that fit with our preconceived prejudices.
We don’t know the solutions the vast majority of the time because we don’t have all the information required to make clear headed judgements on hugely complex matters of public policy. On that basis isn’t it nice when some media outlet or politician after power saves us the bother of thinking it all through.
Democracy only works well if the vast majority of the electorate has a reasoned understanding as to the consequences of their votes. Democracy does not work at all well when those in power or who seek to be in power, together with a media on their payroll, seek to convince us of simple, obvious and clear solutions. Such solutions will invariably be wrong, misleading or down right dangerous.
The solution? Be informed, question any information you get from the media and popularist politicians. Better still stop taking the ‘advice’ of biased media outlets.
With Thanks to Bob for reminding me of Mencken’s quote.