French: Inching toward a pure democracy
November 27, 2012
During the recent campaign I enjoyed listening to fellow voters on the right and the left. I especially enjoy discussing politics with people in the reasonable middle. Portions of each party’s platforms and philosophies shared by voters in the center of the bell curve, are well-reasoned and worth serious consideration. I get the general sense that a little more than one in two Americans can agree on the definition of good governance and reasonable entitlements combined with smart law-making. However, on each side of the middle, it’s a circus and this sentiment is equally shared by liberals and conservatives dominating the working class of America.
The recent presidential campaign, unlike most I’ve witnessed in the past four decades, put a much finer point on what it means to be a “democracy”.
My fear is that while roughly 25 percent of Americans on the left are just as reasonable as 25 percent of the folks on the right, about 26 percent of our voting populace has realized they can tip the scales just enough to personally enhance their financial stations in life. It’s my prediction that this slice of voters will likely expand in the coming years because, like consumers, voters respond to incentives and disincentives.
No American can be blamed for tipping the scale to improve their health care, employment prospects, or protection of human rights. And the idea of voting purely on the basis of personal interests is not exclusive to either party. To be clear, voters with liberal viewpoints, those standing with me in the middle, should not be blamed for our nation’s shift toward a more socialistic model of governance.
Some have argued – what’s wrong with voting for the programs and policies you want? Isn’t that the whole point of a democracy and voting? Indeed, there’s nothing inherently wrong with this attitude. However, a growing slice of voting Americans are motivated by a “majority rules” attitude, also known as a pure democracy. They tend to vote for the candidate who promises them something which they cannot afford or are unwilling to work for.
It’s my observation that this pool of voters is perfectly fine with a pure democracy and few likely have no idea what a republic is. Nor do they comprehend the nature of the electoral college, states rights or the free market precision instrumented into the architectural foundation of our republic. Most important, few voters understand why America emerged as a republic in the first place. Nor do they comprehend the checks and balances it affords or the consequences should the spirit of a republic be sidestepped by popular vote.
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As evidenced by the election, this group of voters is fundamentally aligned on the liberal axis. That’s a bad sign for all Americans because it increases the propensity for growing government dependency, it typically causes the government to expand which leads us into an abyss of wasted tax dollars – all while dampening economic growth. One might argue that it would also be bad to tilt too far toward a fiscally conservative and responsible government. Indeed, we need a balanced government; the kind of balance afforded through a republic. Take a moment to truly understand the difference.
Each administration has the obligation to defend the architecture of governance embodied in the U.S. Constitution. Some administrations subtly chip away at the foundation through a variety of methods; by treaty, by directive, and sometimes simply without regard to law. At the core of good governance is a delicate balancing act; tipping philosophically too far toward either the right or left will likely produce unintended consequences that cannot be easily reversed for decades.
Presently, we are a nation inching toward a pure democracy, and with each step, we move away from the benefits of a republic, specifically the sustainability it affords us as a nation. As we allow our populace to nudge us closer to pure democracy, the majority increasingly discovers it can vote for itself benefits and entitlements that are unsustainable. The public treasury, which approximately 53 percent of us contribute hard dollars to every payday, is not limitless. There are consequences to redistributing our incomes unwisely and in sums greater than that which we possess.
One consequence is an often unreliable economy. Get used to it – it’s the new normal.
Bill French resides in Dillon.