The Dangers of Democracy
Democracy. The word is nearly ubiquitous in American political discourse. We routinely refer to our country and those modeled after our own as democracies. We listen to speeches, read books, and profess our belief in democratic principles, democratic governments, and democratic ideals.
Americans in the modern world completely fail to comprehend two important points. The first is that America -- as organized under the Constitution -- is not a democracy. The second is that democracy, in its pure form, is nothing more than mob rule.
Most of us learned, in some vague manner, from our parents and teachers that the will of the majority should hold sway. We vote on things like what to eat, what shows to watch, and whether to play kickball or dodgeball at recess. Once in while, when we find ourselves on the losing end of a vote, we feel a sense of unfairness, but we don't know how to put that feeling into words.
The elusive thought that escapes us is that there are considerations other than simply the will of half the people plus one. What if the food chosen is utterly repulsive to you and you are forced to go hungry, while another choice might allow everyone to eat something acceptable to all? What if no one in your family likes the shows you enjoy, and so you are denied the opportunity to ever watch them?
What you are sensing in these trivial frustrations of childhood, and what is never explained to you in school, is the existence of natural rights. Natural law and natural rights were the underpinning of the American founding and the reason why democracies are inherently unfair and always degenerate into despotism. The Declaration of Independence declared that all men are born with the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness -- rights granted to them by God, or simply because they are human beings. As John Adams put it, "[y]ou have rights antecedent to all earthly governments; rights that cannot be repealed or restrained by human laws; rights derived from the great legislator of the universe."
It is our instinctive, if undefined, understanding of these rights that make us feel we should be able -- at least some of the time -- to eat, watch, and play what we want even if the majority prefers something else. Unrestrained democracy provides no safeguards for the rights of the individual, leaving him defenseless against the mob. Democracy is not freedom; when your natural rights to life, liberty, and property are subject to the whims of a majority, you have no rights at all.
The founders understood this because, unlike our contemporaries, they studied and learned the lessons of history. They knew that because democracy is simply mob rule, it offered no protection for liberty and was always doomed to destroy itself. So they created a republic -- a representative form of government wherein the people democratically choose fellow citizens to represent them in government. The government, in turn, was restrained by law from doing anything to infringe upon the rights of the individual. With a federal government strictly limited to the handful of powers granted in Article 1, Section 8 of the constitution, and specifically prohibited from infringing on critical liberties such as speech and religion, freedom could be protected from the caprices of the mob.
America's federal government long ago shed the chains of the Constitution, and today, it possesses the power to dictate the amount of toilet water we can flush, what type of light bulb we use to light our homes, how we can use our land, and how much of our income we are permitted to keep. Moreover, our government has now cloaked itself with the power to decide whether we will be permitted to receive life-saving medical care.
With limitless powers, and with the number of representatives capped at 435, so that each member of the House now represents an absurd 700,000 citizens, we live in a democracy and not a true republic. With such a system, millions of Americans can live their entire lives without ever having a congressman who accurately reflects their views or values.
American presidents wield a power over us unmatched by the monarchs of antiquity. While our presidential sovereigns technically do not hold the power of life and death over each individual citizen, they now have the authority to arrest and detain indefinitely any citizen they accuse of terrorist sympathies. Barack Obama asserted his absolute right to make war on foreign nations without consultation with Congress, and his authority to order the death of American citizens abroad he designates as terrorists. Furthermore, American presidents have access to technology -- drones, computer networks, and surveillance systems -- that permit them to monitor our every movement and track every private financial transaction we make. King George might have been able to declare Samuel Adams a traitor, but he could never have dreamed of being able to tell every subject of the crown how much money he could make or what kind of food would be served in schools. And even His Majesty had to go to Parliament before starting a war -- something Presidents Truman, Johnson, and Obama have deemed beneath them.
Liberty is the value upon which this country was founded and for which the Continental Army fought and died. It is your natural rights to life, liberty, and property that you should jealously guard and which are under daily assault -- not just from Barack Obama and Congress, but from thousands of state and local tyrants as well.
Truly, there is precious little of our freedoms remaining to us. Patrick Henry warned the first generation of Americans, "... liberty ought to be the direct, the primary end of your government." And he warned his fellow Virginians, "Guard with jealous vigilance the public liberty. Suspect every one who approaches that jewel."
Americans forgot that warning, and today we languish under the crushing weight of an authoritarian, paternalistic socialist state that is stealing our money as it saps our will to succeed and suffocates our best efforts under an impenetrable web of laws and regulations.
It's little wonder that democracy is the favorite refrain of the socialist; the Socialist Party USA's website uses the word sixteen times in its brief Statement of Principles. It is natural that they would promote democracy, since the productive are always vastly outnumbered by the moochers. The Communist Manifesto says that the revolution should be accomplished by establishing democratic constitutions and that democracy should be "immediately used as a means for putting through measures directed against private property[.]" Democracy allows the lazy majority to vote itself a portion of what the productive have earned -- it is, as someone once described it, two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner.
And so it has gone for America. We have indeed degenerated into a democracy -- socialism is firmly established and has openly won two consecutive presidential elections. The wolves have voted, and we are being served for dinner.
Todd Keister is a former Navy intelligence specialist with the Defence Intelligence Agency and a published author.