The Failure of Democracy

Which is worse:  a democracy where minorities are oppressed or a dictatorship where minorities are protected?  Before you answer that question, do keep in mind that every single human being on earth is in the minority at some point – whether its because of your gender, skin color, religion, political beliefs or what have you, at some juncture in your life there are more of them than there are of you.  All of us are minorities and thus all of us are a potential target for a democracy ruled by demagogues – ruled by those who single out a minority as the source of evil which must be destroyed. 

In a very real sense, the primary purpose of government is to protect minorities – because only when minorities are protected can justice be said to exist to any extent, at all.  It doesn’t matter how democratic a nation is or how regularly it votes – if a minority is being oppressed, then it is an unjust society and the government is not carrying out its primary function.  Government must ensure that each of us – especially when we are in the minority – are as far as possible allowed to go about our lives without let or hindrance from anyone else.  Given this, better, say, a military dictatorship which will protect all the minorities than a democracy which deliberately attacks some minorities.

Of course, vastly better than either is a government of free people which also protects minorities.  Once upon a time, our government was the best example of that humanity had ever devised.  It is in tatters and shreds right now – so bad that the government is deliberately breaking the law in the matter of the debt limit, domestic spying, ObamaCare implementation and other matters and hardly a peep is raised about it.  But it is still to some extent in existence – we are still partially free; partially protected in our minority rights, that is. 

What is happening in Egypt should send a chill down our spines – because that is what democracy becomes when people are convinced that a vote of the majority rules all.  The Morsi government won the election fair and square and proceeded to do whatever it pleased – because “the people” had said so.  Of course, it wasn’t all of the people – the people will never be unanimous.  There will always be a minority which doesn’t agree – and the first duty of the government, even if supported by 99% of the people, is to ensure that the 1% disagreeing get what they want, even (and especially) if that is no more than to be left alone.  In the United States there are plenty of Americans who now think like the Morsi supporters:  they’ve won the election and so they get to do whatever they want and the minority must knuckle under.  That, however, is a failure of democracy – a failure to understand that we have a democracy not to determine what everyone must do, but to ensure that everyone can do as they wish, as far as practical.

For democracy to work there must be built in to it massive prohibitions against government action – for the very purpose of ensuring that a transient political majority doesn’t get it in their heads that victory at the polls is last word in government.  Our Bill of Rights is our primary bulwark against the failure of democracy.  What many people – mostly on the left – don’t understand is that if they don’t keep up the bulwarks, then the whole thing will come crashing down in to revolt and eventual civil war.  Governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed – but, remember, only their just powers.  Just powers cannot be all powers because all powers cannot be granted to the government for the simple reason that not all people will consent to it.

I urge everyone not to tempt fate.  Do not push things too far.  Resign yourself to the fact that people will disagree and will have a right to disagree even to the point where you are offended.  We are straying very close to a precipice right now – our government has grown arrogant; our political pressure groups think they are invincible.  Some people are thinking that “history” is on their side, again (the Nazis and Communists thought that, too).  Democracy is failing – here and around the world – because in too many lands a temporary majority thinks it has the right to re-order everyone’s lives.  Stop it.  Now.  And let democracy be a success, again.


Give Democracy a Chance

It occurred to me a little earlier today that there never was a mass, popular movement to created the United States Federal Reserve.  There also wasn’t any such thing to legalize abortion.  Or to create the Environmental Protection Agency  Doesn’t seem to have been many mobs rioting in favor of a Department of Education.  Don’t seem to remember us voting on a ban on smoking in airplanes.  You get the picture – quite a lot of things we take for granted as part of our political structure did not spring from a popular movement…they were imposed on us.  To be sure, some of them were voted on in Congress, but its not like Congressmen running in the 1912 election actually campaigned on establishing the Federal Reserve and while Nixon said a lot of things to get elected in 1968, I don’t think “I promise to create a bureaucratic nightmare called the EPA” among his promises.

The point here is that for an allegedly democratic republic, we sure don’t have a lot of democracy these days.  Things are proposed, deals are made behind closed doors and things which are allegedly laws ooze out…only to be sliced and diced endlessly by judges and bureaucrats as well-heeled special interests make sure they are taken care of.  I want a bit more democracy – a bit more mob rule, as it were.

I’m telling you, I’m willing to put everything up for a vote – including the 1st and 2nd amendments.  Lets have a vote, people – let us see what the real will of the people is.  Marches and demonstrations and furious arguments across the fruited plains – and then we vote and see what we have.  At least we’ll all know we participated in what we’re living under – we’ll know that we, the people, took a hand in ruling our own destiny.  Of course, I’m very willing to do this because I suspect that my point of view would come out on top in a fair vote 9 out of 10 times.

What say you, fellow Americans?  Anyone out there willing to actually have the people decide?

Can Democracy Survive?

First we begin with a bit of a quote:

…There is no basis for democracy except in a dogma about the divine origin of man…
– G. K. Chesterton, “What I Saw in America”, 1922

There are some words to infuriate our liberals – and even some of our libertarians:  “dogma” and “divine”!  Did he really just say that if we want to have democracy we must have divine dogmas?  You bet I did, because it is true.

When it comes down to it – as Thomas Jefferson, Deist though he was, clearly saw – if our rights are not given to us by God then they are not rights.  If we are not all created equal then there is no justification for democracy because democracy’s justification is the moral equivalence of all people.  It is the only equality there is or can be – because it is obvious that we are not physically and mentally equal to each other.

It there were nothing but blind evolution which accounts for our being here – if there is no God, that is – then any assertion of an absolute human right is absurd.  It will fall victim to the first person who comes along and says “I don’t agree” and who has the power to enforce it.  If you want to be free the first thing you must do – hard as it will be for many – is believe in God.  Don’t believe in God and, eventually, you won’t be free simply because you’ll have no defense against someone who doesn’t want freedom to exist for whatever reason.  Whether it is a national socialist who wants to base  things upon race or an international socialist who wants to base things upon class is a matter of perfect indifference:  you cannot say that the national or international socialist (and they come in all sorts of different guises) is wrong unless you have an absolute truth – God – to point to.

That right there is enough to stick in any liberal (and most libertarian) craw – but I’m about to get much worse about it.

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