The forefathers and many others warned of the dangers of too much democracy. It was such a source of consternation to them that they devoted much of their time either warning against it or describing its many failings. Given the amount of effort expended on the subject it is amazing the general public have little clue they even opposed it let alone why. Even a group of college professors taking questions on PBS could not answer the simple question, “Why did the founding fathers mistrust democracy?” Of course whether they actually were befuddled to find an answer or unwilling to wade in that pond is any ones guess. The truth is the founders recoil at democratic governance is as easy to understand as liberal professors embrace of it.
The fact is democratic governments have several flaws not the least of which is the inherent tendency to suppress the minority. One only needs to look to the suffering of Christians in predominant Muslim countries to see this is true. Of course minorities can be manufactured by the art of division. Even the most superficial skimming of world history can find unending examples groups used as scapegoats for the greater society. What would Hitler of been without the Jews to blame or communists without the wealthy to inspire envy driven rage? The fact is anybody at anytime can find themselves the target of a political demagogue seeking power at the expense of others.
There is little protection against this most insidious of democratic failings. Despite the words of Hamilton in the Federalist Papers, the fact that legislators can make no rule that does not also apply to them is no hedge against this type of tyranny. Neither is a constitution if it is ignored or rendered useless by those who see it as their right to remold it to fit the times.
It is no wonder that the politics of division is the bread and butter of those for whom democracy is a religion. Divide and demonize, also known as the art of demagoguery, can be a destructive force within a society without equal. The part of society most susceptible to being on the losing end of this type of communal debauchery is the wealthy. For this reason democratic societies almost always end up sacrificing themselves on the altar of envy by confiscating and redistributing the property of the upper classes. (what the founders would of called leveling) Of course the wealthy are not the only ones for whom democracy is a threat. Christians, who often stand in the way the democratic demagogue’s plans, rural folks that want to be left alone, entrepreneurs who wish to make their own way, hunters, gun owners and scores of others can find themselves the odd men out.
Such is the tendency of democracies to self-destruct into a factious mass of humanity. Unfortunately such seems to be the direction of Western Civilization. Only two items stand in the way of anarchy and the inevitable dictatorship that follows; the Rule of Law and a formidable constitution. It should come as no surprise that both of these bulwarks of freedom are now under attack. The Rule of Law is under assault by those that seek social justice above blind impartiality. The Constitution, that most principled of documents, is being undermined by courts and legislatures that justify molding it more to their liking by calling it a living document. All of this makes the present direction of American politics all the more alarming.
In the last American election the politics of division and demonization were in full swing. Young were pitted against old, rich against poor, black against white, and women against men in a philosophical cage fight. It seems in a country that polls say is tired of divisive politics; it is the demagogue that can find the most ways to divide America that wins. It is all a fine example of D/democratic politics of the kind the country was warned about more than two hundred years ago.
If the West and most importantly Americans wish to see where the current path ends they need not to look far. Much of the world is caught up in democratically driven death spirals. In the Islamic countries, where no history of liberty exists, people have been thrust by events and the west to demand their democratic rights. The end result is Egypt looks to be getting ready to join Iran in a brotherhood of despotic Islamic rule; Tunisia is likely soon to follow with Iraq and others not far behind. The terrorist’s dream of a great pan-Islamic dictatorship seems to be unfolding before the world, all with democratic credentials.
Closer to the U.S. doorstep, Venezuela too is showing how tyranny and democracy can be soul mates. The fact is liberty without order is anarchy, freedom without restraint is tyranny and democracy unrestrained is the playground of demagogues and despots. Only a country whose liberty is based in principles of mutual respect and individual rights can survive. Let that be sacrificed to public opinion or the so called public good and freedom is lost. Even now the bells are tolling for liberty in the Land of the Free.
It is a dangerous trend that shows no sign of slowing and why should it? As the right to religious freedom is sacrificed for the bauble of free birth control the majority of Americans see no reason to cry foul. When the Justice Department says Habeas Corpus is no longer a right but an option to be exercised at its discretion the populous doesn’t even bat an eye. Even ones medical records, once seen as sacrosanct, are now property of the government. The list goes on but the pattern is clear, for most Americans the slide towards democratic tyranny is of less concern than tomorrow’s weather.
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