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 ?
“A democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where 51% of the people may take away the rights of the other 49%”. Some credit that line to Thomas Jefferson, others say no. But he might well have said it because the founding fathers decidedly did not form the country as a Democracy and for very good reason. We were formed as a Republic. Ben Franklin warned that we may not be able to hold it, but we have held it for nearly 240 years. Now it is slipping away.
Our Republic is slipping into the Democracy the founders feared. Democracy cedes the power to those candidates most capable of charming the people, not to the candidates most able (and honest) to govern. There is a reason one of our political parties is called Democratic and the other Republican. It is the same reason that Democrats seek to alter and diminish the Constitution while Republicans seek to conserve it. The United States Constitution is a republican (small r) instrument. Its provisions surrender simple majority rule to the wonderful concept of the separation of powers. It is still government by the people but with added protection for the people from the government they elect.
Think about that as you watch the video.
Has anyone noticed that the problem in Europe is with governments, not the private sector? Has anyone pointed this out? Not that I have seen. Economies are weak but not in recession, certainly not in depression. It’s nations that are in virtual bankruptcy, not industry.
Bad planning, embezzlement, inefficiency, and over spending at a corporation will put the company out of business. It creates a hardship, but only for the people who worked there and only until they find another job. The process eliminates a poorly acting member of the economy and acts as a discipline and incentive for other members of the private sector to do better. But when bad planning, corruption, inefficiency and over spending occur in a government, the government doesn’t go out of business, it increases taxes to pay for continuation of the same destructive pattern. There is very little discipline to curb over spending in a democracy because the people vote for the candidate that promises the most and delivers the most of those very things that are the cause of the insolvency.
The problem is simple, too much government spending. The solution is also simple; it’s just not palatable. Churchill said it well with his inimitable wit, “Democracy is the worst form of government,…except all others”.
Depression and Democracy is the title of Krugman’s column in the New York Times today. I know little about the Hungarian political party known as Fidesz, but beyond that, what Krugman wrote was dead right as far as it went. Democracy is under threat.
…the gravity of European political developments isn’t widely understood.
First of all, the crisis of the euro is killing the European dream. The shared currency, which was supposed to bind nations together, has instead created an atmosphere of bitter acrimony.
…a Europe-wide recession now looks likely
Europeans [are] furious at what is perceived, fairly or unfairly (or actually a bit of both), as a heavy-handed exercise of German power.
Nobody familiar with Europe’s history can look at this resurgence of hostility without feeling a shiver.
The ecojournalist doesn’t hesitate to use the H word either. Krugman never was known for his political correctness, if you will pardon the pun.
…ominous political trends shouldn’t be dismissed just because there’s no Hitler in sight.
Now we must delve into uncertain territory, what the author thinks but doesn’t say. Just which movement on the current scene does he think a figure like H best represents? Krugman limits his remarks in the article to political parties in Europe. Speaking domestically, would it be the Occupy movement or the Tea Party?
Spokesfolks from the left see the problems; they just don’t see the causes so they come to the wrong conclusions about the solutions. They are looking at the malaise through a window when they should be using a mirror.
The Vicious Cycle
No worker wants to see his employer downsized. Downsizing brings job insecurity and lessened opportunity for those employed. Government employees at all levels realize it’s the Democratic Party that fights for growth and expansion of government, and with it, security and opportunity for the government worker. The Democratic Party is the party for the government, of the government and by the government.
The rest of the people pay for the salaries and benefits enjoyed by government employees. The Republican Party calls for limited government, reduction of government expenditures and lower taxes. The Republican Party is the party of the rest of the people.
The recent passage of the 26 billion dollar funding bill is a prime example of the vicious cycle at work. It was promoted by the Administration as a bill to fund salaries for teachers, police, firemen and first responders, which indeed it was, government workers all.
The bigger government gets, the more people there are who vote for bigger government. Democracy is a fragile system. This is just one of its vulnerabilities.
The Democratic Party is the party of the government, for the government and by the government. The Republican Party is the party of the rest of the people.
Government is the civic worker’s employer. The Republican Party calls for downsizing of government. Downsizing brings job insecurity and lessened opportunity for workers on a government payroll. The Democratic Party, on the other hand, fights for growth and expansion of government. For those employed by government the Democratic Party offers greater job security and an increased measure of opportunity. Thus it is reasonable and natural that the Democratic Party would be the party of the government.
Today’s passage of the 26B dollar State funding bill is a prime example. It was promoted by the Administration as a bill to send money from the Federal government to the State governments for payment of salaries to teachers, police, firemen and first responders, government workers all.
The Republican Party argues for growth in all areas, except government. In the matter of job security, the Republican Party is the party of everyone other than government employees. In that sense, it is the party of the people.
Herein lie the makings of a vicious cycle. The bigger government gets, the more people there are who vote for bigger government. Democracy is a fragile system. This is just one of its vulnerabilities.