Friday, November 11, 2016

What Price Democracy: Earning Liberty

With all of the rioting going on after the election, it makes me wonder if some of us even deserve what little liberty we have left. This is part one of a two-parter...or three if you count The Politics of Rejection, which kind of set up these two. Tomorrow's will be The Tyranny of the Minority.

We all know (most of us at least) that America is a Republic, not a Democracy. It is, however, a representative democracy- the polity is allowed to participate in the electoral process (for what it's worth). The word democracy comes from the Greek- Demos (people)  Kratia (rule of). In other words, self rule. In a pure democracy each issue is debated and voted on by the polity. In a republic, we have representatives, who because of human nature, require monitoring. Remember Lord Acton's admonition: "Power tends to corrupt, absolute power tends to corrupt absolutely." What we are currently witnessing at the federal level is a concentration of power in one locus because we (the polity) stopped paying attention.

If democracy requires the participation of it's citizens. a republic requires even more. It requires two things: first, it requires that each member of the polity behave in a responsible manner- self government. We must all merit the liberties that accompany self-rule. Democracy must be earned, it cannot be imposed. One mistake that President Bush made was in thinking that he could democratize the Middle East (if that in fact was his intention). Democracy is a product, a process more than a thing. The other requirement is that the people participate, as I said before; not only by voting, but by staying involved.

Societies are in a constant state of change, something noticed by the Greek philosopher, Heraclitus, who wrote that everything is in a constant state of flux. The purpose of government, then is to maintain a state of dynamic equilibrium- to act as a referee, you could say. Adam Smith, who designed the market based economy, said that the purpose of government is to provide external security, internal security and to enforce contracts. This was the model that America's political system was based on. What happened?

During the 1860's Abraham Lincoln forced the Southern states into a war. Not to free the slaves as the history books tell us, but to usurp the power of the individual states. In effect he repealed the 10th Amendment, which before his administration, had limited the size and scope of the Federal Government. Using executive orders (sound familiar?) he established a state of virtual tyranny. Prior to Lincoln, the sovereign states had the power to decide their own fates. He consolidated power in the name of preserving the Union and in doing so created the nascent leviathan that would grow in power to what we have now. Almost every president has contributed to expanding centralized power.

Franklin Roosevelt created the "Nanny State." and with it the perception that government could somehow solve our problems. Little by little we conceded our individual power to Washington and with it our liberties. Now, people rarely exercise their power to vote. Almost nobody pays attention to what goes on in the Federal Government unless it's a war or something drastic that affects us all. Even then, most depend on the corrupt media to make issues understandable. Believe me, those in power know that we have our political eyes closed...They depend on it.

This still doesn't explain the rioting and protests. But, in fact, it does. People, for the most part, don't want the responsibilities that democracy requires. Politicians get elected by promising "free shit." That's what people want. The fact that government seldom delivers, seems to matter little. The meager benefits handed out by the nanny state are still easier than earning one's own way. When Donald Trump was elected the indolent were gripped by paroxysms of fear. The threat of forced responsibility suddenly became a reality.

I keep seeing memes of liberals crying and the captions read that it's the result of being given trophies just for participating. This is more profound than one might think. I wrote in my previous blog that everyone is a "victim." Not because they actually are but because victimhood pays- it means that nobody is responsible for their own behavior. Beginning with the Baby Boom Generation, America has turned out several generations of spoiled brats...When they don't get their own way, they act out. That's what we are witnessing now. We can blame several culprits.

In the 70's and 80's the therapeutic community, psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, etc., came up with blame transferral. In other words, if you can dredge up someone in your past that had "harmed" you in some obscure way, it is they who are responsible for your behavior, not you. The "self esteem" movement that permeates the educational system just feeds into the spoiling of America. Children pass all their classes most often with high (albeit undeserved) marks because to do otherwise would damage them. "Everybody gets a trophy."

Another factor, in my opinion, is the decline of religion. It seems that people who adhere to religious/Christian principles deserve democracy more than those who adhere to Humanist doctrines that just seem to feed into the whole "do your own thing" worldview. Democracy is predicated on self-governance/responsibility. What becomes of a nation that turns it's back on Christian values and embraces abberant behavior? You get the chronically self-indulgent rioting and protesting, for fear of losing government induced slavery. We can only hope for a restoration of values-based equilibrium. It is clear from the ratio of voters in the last election that a slight preponderance of the polity deserves democracy. What becomes of the rest (as well as us) is anybody's guess.

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