Here is a quote taken from this web site: http://www.vivarto.com/o2/eng/index2.html. Think that both Pericles and Socrates are right in a fashion (more after the quote).
Perhaps the most difficult problem of mankind down through the ages has been how to coordinate our common affairs in an efficient, competent, creative and democratic way. Many people, including the Nobel Prize winner in economics Dr Amartya Sen, say that our inability to solve this problem is the ultimate cause of starvation, war, economic problems and environmental destruction.One of the main problems is presented in Plato’s dialog “The State,” where Socrates debates with Pericles whether it is the experts or the people who should govern society. Socrates stated, “You don’t let a mob decide how to treat your stomach ailment, you go to a good doctor.” Pericles, the father of Greek democracy, maintained on the other hand that ordinary citizens were fully qualified to govern themselves.
In reality it has most often been neither the experts nor the people who have governed, but rather power-hungry people – something which history is replete with instances of.
It seems to me that given a open ended choice (ie, not having 2 – 6 possible candidates) that people would tend to choose knowledgeable, wise, and caring people to represent them. Our governmental system is designed for putting power-hungry people into office. We elect someone based upon what they say in their campaign. A campaign is “a connected series of operations designed to bring about a particular result” (#2 from Mirriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary). So to bring about their desired result they will snipe at their opponents, promise more than they can deliver, and get their lives opened up like a book for the world to see. Only someone who is ruthless and truly craves the power associated with running the government would stand to be attacked and counter-attack as the successful campaigner must.
I truly feel that one of the best qualifications for holding office is a true desire to not be there. Someone who is not elected should have a huge sigh of relief. Furthermore the party system is obviously outdated. Perhaps the better system is to choose a President is to elect representatives who go and meet. In their meeting they discuss the problems of the country and choose a Cabinet which represents the best leaders with the vision to solve the problems. They could even draft recommendations to send to the President. The Cabinet could choose who the President is and which of them are slated to which post.
Or maybe we need more indecision and strife between the leaders of this nation for another decade… it makes for interesting television.