“Of all the tyrannies a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victim may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated, but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”
— C.S. Lewis
Modern Imperial America is a country on a quixotic mission, a mission to enslave the world to the same mistress to whom Americans now pay mindless, impetuous obeisance — the painted whore, Democracy. Democracy is the political Dulcinea to our fearless American Don Quixote. America woos her with uncountable borrowed billions; bribes indifferent nations into feigned love for her, smashes those who will not be bribed. The American empire, unlike rapacious conquests of the past, is one of selfless compassion, benevolence, fairness and equality. Americans are not tyrants; we are on a noble quest. Americans want the world to see our lovely Dulcinea as we do. We are willing to shed our blood and theirs to bring them to her warm embrace. Our chains rest lightly upon us. They bind us to our lying true love, Democracy. We’ll conquer the world for her.
It was not always so. The transition from peaceful, commercial Republic and the rule of law to imperial Social Democracy and the rule of polls was gradual, almost imperceptibly slow, but as relentless as the progress of a glacier.
The authors of our Constitution greatly feared the perils of democracy. James Madison, the father our Constitution wrote, “Democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security and the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths.”
Edmond Randolph, the chief author of the Bill of Rights wrote of the Constitutional Convention: “The general object was to produce a cure for the evils under which the United States labored; that in tracing these evils to their origins, every man had found it in the turbulence and follies of democracy.”
To the Founders democracy meant centralized power, up for grabs to anyone who could influence the voters and therefore arbitrary and dangerous. The republic they created with their new constitution severely limited the power of the central government. It was representative in nature, but strictly limited to protecting individual liberty and private property. For them, the difference between a democracy and a republic was the difference between the arbitrary rule of men and the enlightened rule of law.
Ironically, in giving in to the democratic majority’s demand for a compromise on slavery the authors who feared democracy most failed to guarantee liberty for all. That mistake sowed the seeds of the Civil War and of the choking democratic weeds that would eventually overwhelm the tree of liberty they thought they had protected with the Constitution.
We made our first real pass at Democracy in the early twentieth century. We were introduced to her by lying bankers and lying politicians. In 1913 the Federal Reserve Bank was formed laying the financial groundwork for the welfare state. Starting that same year, Senators, who had always been appointed by state legislatures, would be elected by popular vote, a move that has graced us with the august leadership of the likes of Joe McCarthy, Bob Torricelli and Edward Kennedy.
Democratic principles in 1913 also allowed the passage the 16th Amendment giving us the fraudulent income tax of today. Democratic principles produced the prohibition of alcohol (later, mercifully, repealed) the prohibition of militia weapons, and the senseless and destructive War on Drugs.
Woodrow Wilson was elected president by promising to keep us out of war. He then promptly took us to war to “make the world safe for democracy.” Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected president by promising to “balance the budget.” He then banned ownership of gold
and gave us the “New Deal,” the largest Federal power grab in our history. After Roosevelt, not only was stealing from the rich required by law but intergenerational looting got its beginnings with the Social Security Act. Roosevelt then got us into another, bigger war for democracy, all the while admiring the murderous work of “Uncle Joe” Stalin.
After the Second World War the brazen promises of Democracy chased the homely Rule of Law right off the dance floor. She whispered longingly in our ear, her hot breath thrilling us with notions of prosperity without work, services without payment and retirement without saving. Our little flirtation with Democracy turned into a torrid affair.
In Democracy’s thrall, the Constitution, originally designed to restrain our government and require our permission for any increase in power over us, became a nuisance, easily ignored or side-stepped with the help of the right judge. It’s “we the people” who now must beg government permission for nearly everything we do, from earning a living to educating our children, from traveling to certain places to consuming certain foods or herbs, from developing our land to investing our money.
The government no longer needs our permission even to start a war. Opinion polls now drive every policy decision. If polls show public approval for an attack on dirt-poor peasants in some Godforsaken corner of the world, we attack. If polls show approval for increased benefits from the public treasury, benefits increase. If polls approve locking up swarthy looking men without charges, we lock ‘em up. If polls approve strip-searching old ladies in airports, we strip ‘em.
Democracy is a hard mistress. We’ve become her slaves. And so proud of her are we, so blinded by her sweet empty promises that we can’t resist introducing her to the rest of the world, whether they want to meet her or not.
Can we get out of this destructive relationship? I believe we can, but not before the polls show a democratic majority for political and economic liberty, voluntary cooperation and enlightened self interest. We’ll have to dance with the homely but honest Rule of Law before we can shake off the chains that bind us to the sweet lies of Democracy.