Should we demote democracy?
By Perry Willis
Something to consider on election day . . .
Where once we believed in the divine right of kings, now we believe in the divine right of pluralities and majorities. We call this democracy, and it has led us to a strange place . . .
Actions we once rejected from Kings, we now accept from politicians.
Is that progress?
We convince ourselves that democracy is progress. How? We tell ourselves this story --
- America is great.
- America is a democratic republic. Therefore . . .
- Democracy is the key to greatness.
Perhaps, but has democracy always lead to greatness everywhere?
For instance, we all know the terrible story of democracy in Germany in the 1930s. Have we really learned the lessons that example has to teach?
It's important to notice what America had that Germany lacked. Only the American State had a Bill of Rights with strong prohibitions on State action. Congress shall make no law . . . !
Our Bill of Rights has often been ignored, yet it's protected us too. I can point to no election that ever turned back the rising tide of State power, but I could name court decisions defending the Bill of Rights that did.
This suggests a partial conclusion . . .
Limiting state power is more fundamental than democracy to both greatness and goodness.
But does this mean that courts and a Bill of Rights are the key to limiting State power? Look deeper . . .
The Bill of Rights has never changed, but court decisions have. Why?
For instance . . .
Why was state enforced racial segregation upheld and then overturned? No new majority was elected on this platform. No new court was appointed to specifically render this verdict.Instead . . .
Public opinion changed, and then the political "leaders" followed.
This change in opinion was caused by civil society -- NOT by The State, NOT by politicians, NOT by people voting, NOT by democracy. It was caused by people like Jackie Robinson and Martin Luther King, Jr., and by new technological forces like television.
Look closely at the history -- political "leaders" like Eisenhower and Kennedy reacted to events, they did not cause them. Even LBJ's famous civil rights legislation was largely the exclamation point to a social transformation that had already occurred.
The central importance of social forces over political (democratic) forces can be seen even more clearly in the case of infamous "N-word." No court or legislature ever outlawed the use of this word, yet no word in the English language is more forbidden.
Render the verdict . . .
- Beliefs are primary.
- Limits on state power are crucial.
- Democracy is a doubled edged sword that can oppress as easily as it protects.
You should think and live accordingly . . .
- Demote democracy from your pantheon of gods.
- Focus on moral beliefs instead.
- Limit the State's power to cause harm by opposing The State's anarchistic freedom to INITIATE violence.
- Foster this social change by elevating persuasion over elections.
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