In our first post exploring the dichotomy between Obama’s poor record and strong support we explained that with true believers his record doesn’t count. He’s a Democrat and he is black, and that is good enough. But there is another and more disturbing reason for the apparent dichotomy. We are approaching Tocqueville time in America.
The answer may lie in the very nature of democracy itself. If that’s the case, we can’t say we weren’t warned. Aristotle said democracy would lead to great corruption. Plato warned that the demos (the masses) lacked sufficient understanding to differentiate the charmers from the honest and capable candidates and they would choose the charmers. Given the nature of man and the fact that in any society the masses will outnumber the elites, both philosophers held that democracy would lead to the demos voting largesse unto themselves from the nation’s accumulated wealth to the ultimate detriment of the entire society.
Aristotle and Plato did not have the benefit of history to confirm their opinions because democracy was a new concept in their day. But Alexis de Tocqueville, a noted French writer and historian who came more than 2,000 years later did look back on the rise and fall of great empires some of which were limited democracies.
Tocqueville was born to French aristocracy and lived during the period of the French Revolution. He was a keen observer of the American Experiment that combined free markets, rights to private property and a level of democracy theretofore unknown. The young Frenchman noted at the time that the “experiment” was a great success. However, as our long running sidebar suggests, he also warned that over time the public will vote themselves more and more benefits until the government’s treasury is depleted and the system collapses in fiscal insolvency. Usually to be followed by some form of despotic governance.
Obama is a charmer, Romney is not. Obama promises ever greater largesse to the people, Romney does not. The combination of true believers and largesse voters forms a base of unwavering support. The stable of true believers is relatively static; but the percentage of largesse voters grows over time. The time Tocqueville gave for the American democracy to run its course was about 200 years; we are well beyond that. The 2012 election will answer the question, have we reached Tocqueville time in America ?