Green Room

What Democracy Is Not

posted at 4:29 pm on December 23, 2009 by

I believe the current American government is far too large, and horribly corrupt. I often write critically of its actions. I don’t hate the government, however. The defense of liberty is not a romance with anarchy. The federal government has vital functions to perform. Over the centuries, the American political class has produced men and women of eloquence, courage, and honor. I hate how far short our current crop of politicians falls from the standard set by the creators of this republic. I hate what the republic has been twisted into, and I implore my fellow citizens to stand up and put a stop to it, because it teeters on the precipice of becoming something much worse.

The American democracy was not created to dictate the destiny of its citizens. It has a duty to avoid interfering with our hopes and dreams, except where necessary to maintain order. The government should not be conscripting us into the service of its hopes and dreams, with thousand-page draft notices. A nation becomes great because of what its people achieve, not because of what they are required to do… or what they are forbidden to do.

The goal of representative democracy should not be sending the most aggressive team of brigands to Washington, to pillage the other states. The unseemly haste of Democrats to buy enough votes for their awful health-care bill, and push it through by Christmas, is reminiscent of a gang of thieves panicking at the sound of a burglar alarm going off, and racing to stuff pillowcases full of swag before the cops show up.

The suggestion by House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, that every senator and representative should service their constituents by haggling over the highest price for their votes, is an insult to patriotism. The states should combine their strength in the federal union, for those limited number of tasks that only the central government can perform. The union was not meant to be a weapon for looting the states that aren’t represented by ancient incumbents with powerful committee chairs.

The people of Nebraska did not send Ben Nelson to be first in line when the doors open on Washington’s big Black Friday sale of federal goodies, waving his so-called “principles” like a credit card. The voters of the other states should not have to watch their representatives mope around like disappointed shoppers who missed the best deals. Firm adherence to clearly-stated principles is not merely a desirable trait for a member of Congress. It is essential. Voting for a political hack who lies about everything he believes in, and has no position that lacks a price tag, is not an exercise in true democracy, any more than voting with a dart board and blindfold would be.

Sarah Palin described the revolting spectacle of the Senate health care bill on her Facebook page:

The administration’s promises of transparency and bipartisanship have been broken one by one. This entire process has been defined by midnight votes on weekends, closed-door meetings with industry lobbyists, and payoffs to politicians willing to sell their principles for sweetheart deals. Is it any wonder that Americans are so disillusioned with their leaders in Washington?

We reached the sorry moment Palin describes because our ruling class became disillusioned with us. When the government seizes control of something, it says that its citizens can no longer be trusted to manage it themselves. That’s true of the federal government’s legitimate responsibilities. National defense cannot be entrusted to irregular militias, no matter how patriotic and courageous their members. Health care is not something a free people can watch their government take away from them, ignoring the strident objections of a substantial majority. If we do, we are no longer free… and in the years to come, the ruling class will feel increasingly less pressure to pretend it serves the voters.

Transparency is not a gift to be promised in an election campaign, and withheld when opacity proves more convenient to the President. Bipartisanship is a compromise to meet the needs of all citizens, without exceeding the rules that constrain government. It is not a conspiracy to cobble together a coalition of dependents, and gain enough political strength to rewrite the rules.

Reckless deficit spending is not merely unwise financial policy. It is a damnable sin against democracy itself. Our nation was founded in defiance of the tyranny of taxation without representation. Levying monstrous taxes against generations unborn is an even more appalling example of that tyranny. Free men and women cannot be held responsible for the sins of their parents… and they cannot hold their children responsible for meeting their demands. Freedom does not carry the burdens of the past, or sustain itself by consuming the possibilities of the future. Liberty is meaningless in the absence of responsibility – you are not “free” unless you are accountable for your actions. An irresponsible democracy cannot survive for long.

Democracy is not about “rationing” goods and services through all-powerful Independent Medicare Death Panel Advisory Boards. Rationing means the people get what the government thinks they deserve. Those criteria will be determined with the same kind of back-room deals and midnight caucuses that put the Advisory Board in place. The government cannot control anything without rationing it. Rationing transforms your vote from a civic responsibility into a vital currency, which you must spend aggressively to survive.

Democracy is utterly incompatible with little rule-bending land mines hidden in gigantic bills, which only become public knowledge because they were spotted by a sharp-eyed staffer working for the opposition party. What is a half-written bill, largely unread by legislators, but an exercise in the same kind of arbitrary power that sent the Minutemen into the field against England? How does a responsible citizen assess the performance of his representatives, when their careers are spent voting on titanic hundred-billion-dollar bills with thousands of clauses? Responsibility drowns beneath huge bills sold with fraudulent accounting, based on promises no one takes seriously, with results no one could possibly predict.

What we have seen in the House and Senate during President Obama’s first year is not the behavior of a responsible Congress, acting in the humble service of its constituents, and conducting the lawful business of a democratic republic. Congress gains its legitimacy from the laws that bind it, not the spectacular spending bills it passes in defiance of those laws. We started down this path when we began judging government by the way it responded to the demands of its citizens, instead of the faithful performance of its duties. It will take a lot of work to correct the situation. In undertaking that task, we will not be aspiring to a lofty ideal. We will be reclaiming our birthright. The Congress of Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid has worked under cover of darkness to steal something incredibly precious, which the authors and signatories of the Constitution desperately wanted you to have.

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Dr zero, I salute you, this Christmas eve, for you tract, which should be posted everywhere. It is a call to decency and liberty which cannot exist separately

George Washington was correct in his warnings in his farewell address:

The unity of Government, which constitutes you one people, is also now dear to you. It is justly so; for it is a main pillar in the edifice of your real independence, the support of your tranquillity at home, your peace abroad; of your safety; of your prosperity; of that very Liberty, which you so highly prize. But as it is easy to foresee, that, from different causes and from different quarters, much pains will be taken, many artifices employed, to weaken in your minds the conviction of this truth; as this is the point in your political fortress against which the batteries of internal and external enemies will be most constantly and actively (though often covertly and insidiously) directed, it is of infinite moment, that you should properly estimate the immense value of your national Union to your collective and individual happiness – Geo Washington

The name of american, which belongs to you, in your national capacity, must always exalt the just pride of Patriotism, more than any appellation derived from local discriminations – Geo Washington

And yet we elected a President who considered sporting the flag a cheap symbol of patriotism, which cannot be true unless patriotism itself is cheap

All obstructions to the execution of the Laws, all combinations and associations, under whatever plausible character, with the real design to direct, control, counteract, or awe the regular deliberation and action of the constituted authorities, are destructive of this fundamental principle, and of fatal tendency. They serve to organize faction, to give it an artificial and extraordinary force; to put, in the place of the delegated will of the nation, the will of a party, often a small but artful and enterprising minority of the community; and, according to the alternate triumphs of different parties, to make the public administration the mirror of the ill-concerted and incongruous projects of faction, rather than the organ of consistent and wholesome plans digested by common counsels, and modified by mutual interests – Geo Washington

Has not Washington prophesized the disease afflicting both Bush and Obama?

However combinations or associations of the above description may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely, in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people, and to usurp for themselves the reins of government; destroying afterwards the very engines, which have lifted them to unjust dominion – Geo Washington


Dr Zero, your tract is very important, because the problem is not trivial, but serious, the disease deep, and the patient almost mortally wounded

The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries, which result, gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of Public Liberty – Geo Washington

All the argument to preserve liberty over Statism fail with nihilists, because they have no God except themselves. I do not know how you argue with a man who is his own God?

Let it simply be asked, Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths, which are the instruments of investigation in Courts of Justice? And let us with caution indulge the supposition, that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect, that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle Geo Washington

So there is the problem. Factions who are their own Gods, or who belong to faiths whose Gods call for submission rather than free will, luring the public to their side with offers of security, aided by decadence of their opponents, who have also decided to ignore the law of the people for their goals

De Zero, continue to write about this serious danger. I offer prayers for a Blessed Christmas for all, I offer my gratitude to the patriots who gave us the great gift of Liberty on this Christmas, and I offer my gratitude and prayers to the great patriots willing to fight to preserve our Liberty against an opponent who is blind and deaf to all but himself. If, as Paul, we could say we have fought the good fight we will redeem ourselves to the legions who spent their blood for us. Thanks to the Lord above for the gift of his Son in christmas day

entagor on December 24, 2009 at 2:16 PM

Amendment X, are you saying secrecy in the legislature is good for America? That bribery is a beneficial part of the legislative process? I think you mistake democracy for despotism. Free nations govern openly. Dictatorships govern through shady backroom deals and payoffs. Which one do we most resemble, lately? This deal passed because some votes were “found” in a trunk in Minnesota. Is that what democracy means to you?

hawksruleva on December 24, 2009 at 9:16 AM

hawksruleva- where on earth did you get the idea from my comments that I supported secrecy in the legislature? And as for Franken, I’ve said before, Franken didn’t win, Coleman lost-twice. . Read what I wrote about my experiences here in Minnesota.

Amendment X on December 24, 2009 at 4:52 PM

Always remember- every one and all these people are elected by either ideologues or ignorant voters.
If I have to satisfy the state that I can safely carry a firearm with the attendant permitting process, I want to see the same type of permitting process for the masses to be able to vote: the ability to discern editorial content, a basic grasp of economics, an understanding and appreciation of the Constitution, and a certain depth of knowledge of American history. Oh, and by the way-NO SAME DAY REGISTRATION!!! I want to people to revere the vote, not think of it as easy as a drive through window to get a burger!
If I need a permit to exercise my 2nd Amendment rights (which are specifically stated), then there needs to be a process to allow people to exercise the privilege of voting (BTW did you notice I did not say the “right” to vote? It doesn’t exist in the Constitution, though it may be inferred under the Amendment IX).

Amendment X on December 24, 2009 at 5:05 PM

notice I did not say the “right” to vote? It doesn’t exist in the Constitution, though it may be inferred under the Amendment IX).

Amendment X on December 24, 2009 at 5:05 PM

Yes, important to note here that depending on the state you are living in, a convicted felon loses the privilege of voting. It may be regained after parole is finished. And challenges to it this law have been rebuffed by the courts. Likewise there has been an expansion of the privilege several times, changing the amount of land one must own to vote, the number of slaves one must own, the women’s sufferage.

Somehow it appears it would be more difficult to limit what has been allowed than not. Guess we’re stuck with the current system for a while. Vetting the voter at some minimal level would make sense, such as “proof of citizenship”; and other residency requirements.

Robert17 on December 25, 2009 at 8:13 AM

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