In the midst of pandemics, environmental degradation, social unrest, and other observable catastrophes, the primary threat to humans remains to be ignorance (1). Merriam-Webster defines ignorance as a lack of knowledge, education, or awareness. More generally, it is a state of being apathetic to emerging information and a lack of a framework to evaluate such data.
It should worry every human on earth that the greatest and largest democracies have leaders who demonstrate ignorance to such levels that their mere presence is a threat to humanity. It has been assumed that in a democratic system, fair elections will guarantee that elected officials will be competent at the very least. It was also an implicit assumption that democracies will avoid those who have evil intentions to roll back the ideals of the system. It is clear that these assumptions do not hold and it may be time to ask if the democratic systems, as designed, are appropriate.
The concentration of power has always been a problem in a democratic system. The world’s largest democracy, which purports a unitary system, has accumulated power at the center and that has led to the uneven treatment of states all through its short history. As the pandemic illustrated, the center has schizophrenia, taking credit for what works and blaming the states for the rest. In the world’s greatest democracy, which is apparently getting greater every minute, the dangerous effects of concentration of power in the executive branch are becoming clearer.
Democracy has always been a fragile system. It relied on the intelligence, foresight, and compassion of elected leaders to perpetuate it. All it takes is one or a few individuals to turn it back. Large democracies are sitting at the precipice of a societal tsunami. How they manage through this period will have a profound impact on history.