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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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.

Damn. That’s the best metaphor I’ve seen in just about ever.

That’s the best simile

cthulhu on December 23, 2009 at 4:46 PM

*blush* I was thinking the first part was metaphor and the second part was a simile that continued it, and accidentally left both in the comment….

I guess the “shock and awe” hadn’t worn off sufficiently for me to be coherent.

cthulhu on December 23, 2009 at 4:48 PM

cthulhu on December 23, 2009 at 4:48 PM

No reason to blush; the only difference between a simile and a metaphor is a like or an as.

Disturb the Universe on December 23, 2009 at 5:08 PM

I hate it. I certainly hate what it’s become.

Midas on December 23, 2009 at 5:11 PM

Disturb the Universe on December 23, 2009 at 5:08 PM

I was taking the “is reminiscent of” as the comparison that contrasted the two.

Of course, the real point to be made is that it’s an extremely powerful and apt bit of writing.

cthulhu on December 23, 2009 at 5:14 PM

“The people have lost the confidence of the government; the government has decided to dissolve the people, and to appoint another one”.

Bertolt Brecht on East Germany

RobCon on December 23, 2009 at 5:18 PM

We reached the sorry moment Palin describes because our ruling class became disillusioned with us.

Love your thinking and writing, Doc, but I humbly take exception to this statement. You imbue the class who now rules by fiat with righteousness by this statement. Maybe I’m missing the subtlety of your point.

We reached this sorry moment because those in power no longer fear; they are no longer men of virtue or morality.

publiuspen on December 23, 2009 at 6:11 PM

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.

Excellent Doc, as always.

beachgirlusa on December 23, 2009 at 8:00 PM

We reached this sorry moment because those in power no longer fear; they are no longer men of virtue or morality.

publiuspen on December 23, 2009 at 6:11 PM

You and Doc really make this THE point. In the beginning days of the Republic there seemed to be a bit more good character and moral fiber in stock with not only the Founding Fathers, but the populace as a whole. All were people that had contributed treasure and blood sacrifice to the new Republic. That is not necessarily true these days.

We’re exhausting our freedom by dilution of those core values, the thinning now allowing only the lightest shade of red to be discerned, the dull sheen of what was a glowing treasure. Maybe a good housecleaning and restoration is in order. We need true and good leadership. But I repeat myself.

Robert17 on December 23, 2009 at 8:09 PM

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.

So they are like Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow, with the U.S. Constitution just one big run of banks for them.

MB4 on December 23, 2009 at 9:48 PM

Obaloney, Pelosi and Reid just foisted on its citizens and future generations the mother of all shit sandwiches.

May they all forever burn in hell!

Sweet_Thang on December 24, 2009 at 8:46 AM

The American democracy was not created to dictate the destiny of its citizens.

The American democracy was not created to dictate the destiny of its citizens. The American constitutional republic was not created to dictate the destiny of its citizens.
FIFY Doctor. No charge. Merry Christmas.

Amendment X on December 24, 2009 at 8:59 AM

My husband and I always look forward to your essays, Doctor Zero, and today’s is no exception. I know it’s entirely coincidental – but thank you for one of your best ones yet, one that really gets me passionate to bring politics back to us regular people, on my birthday.

Anna on December 24, 2009 at 9:01 AM

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.

Democracy is utterly incompatible absolutely compatible 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.
FIFY again Doc.

Amendment X on December 24, 2009 at 9:03 AM

A very moving essay. I only pray for my child’s sake that our country isn’t lost already.

search4truth on December 24, 2009 at 9:03 AM

isn’t lost already.

search4truth on December 24, 2009 at 9:03 AM

not by a long shot

ain’t over til it’s over

fat lady hasn’t sung yet.

blatantblue on December 24, 2009 at 9:05 AM

Remember Doctor, et al, the only difference between democracy and a mob/anarchy is that the nicety of a vote is taken.
A gang rape and a lynching are examples of ad hoc democracy.
When you’ve got two wolves and a sheep deciding what’s for lunch, you’ve got a democracy. When the sheep is armed, you’ve got a republic.
The Founders knew the evil that lurked in the hearts of men and took to heart Lord Acton’s admonition and decided not to let the new country be ruled by the delicate nature of the desires of men. AKA-constitutional republic, not a democracy.
I’m genuinely surprised that the good Doctor, with the wonderful epistles he has penned, has made this all too common mistake.

Amendment X on December 24, 2009 at 9:11 AM

Doc: I know I’ve said this before, but you have a great future as a syndicated columnist. You produce more thought provoking insight in one post than most writers do in a lifetime. “Please sir, may I have some more?”

BillyGoatGruff on December 24, 2009 at 9:11 AM

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.

Brilliantly said.

We reached the sorry moment Palin describes because our ruling class became disillusioned with us.

I too take exception to that one statement. They don’t care about “us” and never did. I suppose one could say that our ruling class is “disillusioned” with our Constitution, our Bill of Rights, our traditions, and our history and thus want to fundamentally transform America – just as the Obamas promised (making it the one campaign promise that does not have an expiration date).

Buy Danish on December 24, 2009 at 9:14 AM

Well said as always.

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.

I think many Congressmen have been servicing their constituents for a long time. They’re even screwing American’s who don’t live in their districts.

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

Amen.

Mongo Mere Pawn on December 24, 2009 at 9:24 AM

The problem lies with us

We pay attention to the “dignified” parts of government (Walter Bagehot), and we ignore the “efficent” parts of it.

blatantblue on December 24, 2009 at 9:29 AM

efficient***

blatantblue on December 24, 2009 at 9:29 AM

hawksruleva on December 24, 2009 at 9:16 AM

no, he is saying that the founders did not set this great nation up as a democracy, they gave us a constitutional representative republic, there IS a major difference.

mrfixit on December 24, 2009 at 9:46 AM

DAMN STRAIGHT!

/hangover

Sharke on December 24, 2009 at 9:51 AM

The defense of liberty is not a romance with anarchy.

Darn, you have a way of turning a phrase. Are you a real doctor, or do you just play one on HA?

Always love your essays…more please…I vote for promotion from the Green Room to the front page :)

Merry Christmas everyone!

lukespapa on December 24, 2009 at 9:59 AM

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 problem with Clyburn’s “method” is, there is no “what’s good for me, is good for thee”. There’s no inclusiveness in this bill when Reid say’s “this is good for the American people” while spiriting out exclusive deals to anyone any democrat who stands in line needing “cover” to return to their post next year.

Reid said earier this week, “this is how the system works”.

We’ll see, (as he exits his post), if this is also how the system works when the electorate rebels.

Rovin on December 24, 2009 at 10:11 AM

A nice essay. But I kept waiting for the Constitution to make an appearance. (it did, in the last sentence.)

A government of the US–democratic or not–that operates outside the bounds of the Constitution is illegitimate and ultimately despotic. It is to be thrown off. We are united, and bound, only within the confines of the Constitutional scheme of limited government. The present gang of theives, although elected, are unbound by the Constitution and are illegitimate. They should be thrown off.

james23 on December 24, 2009 at 10:29 AM

Reckless deficit spending is not merely unwise financial policy. It is a damnable sin against democracy itself.

Dr. Zero, you have found a truth that needs to be seen and heard throughout the land, and echoed from voter to voter. Perhaps someone can be induced to print the bumper stickers and tee shirts, since these lowly articles are the way we wear our sentiments in public today?

njcommuter on December 24, 2009 at 11:08 AM

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.

At what point does the country lose its founding birthright. When colleges and universities have 90% liberal teachers how can the principles of the founding fathers of the Constitution continue to keep the country the way it was governed in the past. Is it moral decay or world influence?

royzer on December 24, 2009 at 11:08 AM

Obaloney, Pelosi and Reid just foisted on its citizens and future generations the mother of all shit sandwiches.

May they all forever burn in hell!

Sweet_Thang on December 24, 2009 at 8:46 AM

I believe so. Does anyone really believe that these people are evangelical God fearing folk?

royzer on December 24, 2009 at 11:14 AM

We are rapidly reaching the point where the only way to reclaim the republic is through the blood of the citizenry willing to rise up to defend it. The question is whether there are any citizens remaining who care enough to make any sacrifice.

artman1746 on December 24, 2009 at 11:27 AM

The hour is dark, but we conservatives have to make a big stand for change when we have the opportunity. We can’t be idle anymore, there’s too much at stake. Let’s fight for our country like the militia we are, by our voices & votes.

SWChance on December 24, 2009 at 11:30 AM

Jim Clyburn is my congressman as was John Jenrette, I am more ashamed of Mr. Clyburn.

tmitsss on December 24, 2009 at 11:36 AM

We reached this sorry moment because those in power no longer fear have made power, money, and ideology their God; they are no longer men of virtue or morality.
publiuspen on December 23, 2009 at 6:11 PM

Sorry, had to change a part of that.

Nalea on December 24, 2009 at 11:38 AM

The Democrats are busy turning this country into an environment that is actively hostile to honor and virtue. Washington is becoming a place where the honest representative of his constituents is powerless relative to the corrupt, where health-care workers who are motivated by the protection of life are forced out, where the productive laborer or businessman will have his profits stolen by charlatans. We are becoming a country of the knaves, by the knaves, and for the knaves.

Socratease on December 24, 2009 at 11:39 AM

Constitution? Which Constitution? The Constitution as written or the Constitution as interpreted?
For 206 years we’ve been living under a Constitution interpreted and twisted and betrayed by a court of 9 black-robed wise men (and women) who have no authority to claim sole possession of any such power. Justice Marshall just stood up and declared it.
Since that time, the court has systematically ripped holes in the fabric of our safeguards, reached through those holes and snapped our system of limited government inside out, and left is with an unlimited despotism. The revolutionary generation knew very well how freedom wears away over time by the normal abrasion of daily politics, and sought to build a set of limits on government and a bottom-up federal system that limited most severely the level of government furthest from the people.
Now, thanks to 200+ years of small narrow betrayals, we have turned the federal pyramid upside down and snapped the limits inside out. Year after year, more and more power is concentrated in the hands of fewer and fewer, at an ever greater distance from the people.
You can measure the exact degree of over concentration by counting the number of lobbyists in Washington. Under a system true to the founders, nobody in Washington would be powerful enough to lobby or bribe or pay protection money. The number of lobbyists and the money they spend is directly proportional to the over-concentration of power.

Lew on December 24, 2009 at 12:02 PM

Artman 1746
I for one am ready, willing and able. Anybody else?
Doc, as always another great piece. May GOD bless you.

mountainmanbob on December 24, 2009 at 12:29 PM

publiuspen on December 23, 2009 at 6:11 PM

Nalea on December 24, 2009 at 11:38 AM

I happen to agree with publiuspen on this one. I believe power and money were always the gods of the socialists hidden under prose declaring their concerns for the unwashed masses.

My take is that the socialists believe they have the underclasses either somnolent or cowering in fear and as such no longer feel the need to make much of an effort to hide their true goals.

There is an excellent novel by A Christian writer, Frank Peretti called “The Oath”. In it he discusses how evil starts out small and weak; eventually grows forcing out or subjugating good until it no longer has to hide. Without giving away too much, in the book, the main incarnation of the evil is a dragon which mimics its surroundings only showing itself when it is confident. Curiously, like I have seen in politics, it does occasionally feed on its own followers.

I sometimes feel I am watching this in real life.

I do not advocate surrender or despair. Like Peretti, I believe a firm foundation in truth and prayer can conquer the vilest forces.

Duncan Khuver on December 24, 2009 at 12:31 PM

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.

Voting for a political hack who lies about everything he believes in, and has no position that lacks a price tag, is an exercise in true democracy, as the election of a scoundrel is no less democratic than the election of a virtuous man. Either way, the people have spoken and an election has taken place. Or are you seriously saying, Comrade Zero, that true democracy only occurs when the people vote for the correct candidate? If we accept per original sin that man is a broken entity then why should we be surprised when a system based on the will of the people degenerates into corruption? We are endlessly surprised and consequently forced to pretend that every bad result thrown up by a democratic system is undemocratic, which it is not.

aengus on December 24, 2009 at 12:54 PM

Supremely well worded and truthful! This level of malfeasance needs to be be countered with insurrection; let the 2nd American revolution begin and let’s tar and feather these criminals all the way to Hell. obama is an utter fool to assume he can pull off this level of offal without reaction. Apparently the ballot box no longer works so let’s move on to something that does!!!

jgdp on December 24, 2009 at 12:56 PM

Hammer?.. Meet Nail.

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.

[chuckle]

franksalterego on December 24, 2009 at 1:04 PM

God bless you and yours this Christmas and always, Dr. Zero. You are a treasure, and I learn something every time I read your posts; more importantly, they make me think.

Keep’em coming.

hillbillyjim on December 24, 2009 at 1:06 PM

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.

Amen to that, Doc! Brilliant article as always, too!

The Democratic Party is treating the Constitution as if it did not exist and/or did not apply to their actions and/or could be changed willy-nilly according to their interpretations of its restrictions on the federal government.

And it is all true, provided that the voting public continues to look the other way while the Dems do their dirty work. Unfortunately, our major sources for being ‘informed’ in the past largely depended on the integrity of the so-called public watchdogs: The Mainstream Media, which has been in collusion with the Democratic Party for many years now to enact socialist policies under the premise that the voting public is too stupid and unsophisticated to know what is best for the country at large.

Thankfully there are alternative sources for the real news today, via the Blogosphere and talk radio. Now it’s our responsibility, as truly informed citizens, to stand up to this tyrannical crowd and take back our country and restore and reaffirm and defend the Constitution as our foundation for governing this great land of the free.

KendraWilder on December 24, 2009 at 1:15 PM

P.S. Merry Christmas to you and yours, Doc! And to all here at Hot Air and everywhere. :)

KendraWilder on December 24, 2009 at 1:16 PM

“Our” Government has become destructive of its own end. That is, of securing the unalienable rights of the people.
It no longer derives just powers from the consent of the governed.
This is the purpose for which governments are instituted among men; and, it is the only JUST purpose of all governments.
This circumstance has arisen through the unfolding of a long train of abuses and usurpations.
These abuses and usurpations invariably pursue the same object; to reduce the people under absolute despotism.

Hmmm, what to do? What … to …. do?

Eyas on December 24, 2009 at 1:19 PM

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