When we go to a local restaurant, we expect our waiter or waitress to perform superbly in their responsibilities. We hope that they will take our orders correctly and not spill anything on us when they bring us our food. Failure to meet our expectations of service can result in dissatisfaction and, unless we’re feeling forgiving, a lower tip. These expectations are not isolated to the restaurant industry. We expect high quality, expert service at every location in which we are a consumer. So why doesn’t this private demand for expertise translate into a similar demand in the public sector?
Technocracy, as defined by Webster, is the management of society by technical experts. I suspect that most Americans would agree that this definition, if applied to local, state, and federal government, would be highly desirable. However, problems arise when ideal solutions to technical problems contradict the solutions voters come up with through their engagement in the democratic brainstorming process. Since the wonky answers to complex problems proposed by experts are often inconsistent with the simpler, platitude laden answers proposed by populist political figures, distrust of the expert begins to take root. This distrust can morph into conspiracy theories and allegations of the expert having an ulterior motive for promoting his or her expert opinion. At a more practical level, this distrust results in legislation being passed without thought of real consequences and unqualified people being appointed to positions that should be occupied by a technocrat. This type of reckless behavior will result in dangerous consequences for our country, and it will foment distrust in our democratic system of government.