Dan Popp
Democracy hypocrisy
By Dan Popp
February 15, 2010

It has been observed that a pure democracy if it were practicable would be the most perfect government. Experience has proved that no position is more false than this. The ancient democracies in which the people themselves deliberated never possessed one good feature of government. Their very character was tyranny; their figure deformity. — Alexander Hamilton

I would like to believe that liberals are principled people — they just hold different principles than conservatives. But observation keeps confirming my suspicion that where conservatives have principles, liberals have only an agenda.

Upside-downer TV pundit Rachel Maddow calls the Senate "broken" because she's not getting her way regarding state-controlled health care. She says she wants to get rid of that silly old filibuster rule for the sake of "democracy."

Time for a reality check, Rachel.

Democrats have had no problem using the filibuster when it suited their purposes. Perhaps the most notable example is the battle for the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Southern Democrats filibustered to block the bill, and once again — as they've been doing since Lincoln — those "racist" Republicans led the charge for minority rights.

More recently, when Judge Alito was nominated to the Supreme Court, Democrats weren't trying to euthanize the filibuster; many of them wanted to expand it into unprecedented areas.

Reality check #2

The United States is not, and was never intended to be, a democracy. It is a representative republic, meaning that the people elect political surrogates who may exercise their own discretion. The Founders feared too much power anywhere — in the hands of the people as well as in the hands of the governing class. As Thomas Jefferson put it, "A democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where fifty-one percent of the people may take away the rights of the other forty-nine."

But our indirect, insulated sovereignty cuts both ways. Conservatives who demand that their representative vote No on "health care" legislation because of massive popular disfavor have this wrong, too. If officeholders were merely puppets of the majority, they would be unnecessary, and we would have a democracy instead of a republic.

Reality check #3

Ms. Maddow is not being honest when she claims to want both Obamacare and more "democracy." According to the polls, Americans are against both the House and Senate bills, by large majorities. If we had a pure democracy, both pieces of legislation would have been dead and buried months ago. Democracy would yield the same result as republicanism in this case, and Maddow would be equally frustrated by either.

She seems to want more "democracy" in only one detail: the abolition of the filibuster. Otherwise she wants to retain the republican device of elected representatives who can vote contrary to will of the people.

That isn't democracy; it's elitism. Liberals want more democracy only when it suits their agenda. In other particulars they like republicanism just fine. Most often they want an oligarchy, with the "smart people" making decisions for us benighted masses. Many directives in the Democrats' healthcare proposals are anti-democratic: setting up bureaucracies to make decisions for you, mandating that you buy health insurance, and the provision that some provisions can never be repealed.

When it comes to energy and the environment, do Democrats want each person to decide for himself what investments to make in which kinds of fuel? Do they want to obey the clear will of the people and drill for oil and build more refineries in America? Or do they insist that only They are wise enough to decide those things — not just for individual Americans, but for the whole world?

The reality is that Rachel Maddow and those who style themselves "Democrats" are no more advocates of democracy than they are advocates of personal responsibility, journalistic integrity or abstinence until marriage. They know it, the people know it, and they know that we know it. What they advocate, always, is getting their own way regardless of the will of the people, and regardless of the rules. Power seems to be about as close to an abiding "principle" as they get.

© Dan Popp


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