There has been a disturbing trend of late. As the world faces crisis and a poor economic outlook on the heels of the Great Recession and on the verge of worse, there are a growing calls for less democracy. The elites that got us into the mess in the first place seem to be those calling for more control so that they can implement their magic plans that have yet to be revealed.
Yesterday the governor of North Carolina, Democrat Bev Perdue speaking at a Rotary Club meeting said, “I think we ought to suspend, perhaps, elections for Congress for two years and just tell them we won’t hold it against them, whatever decisions they make, to just let them help this country recover.” Peter Orszag, President Obama’s former director of the Office of Management & Budget, penned an article in the New Republic as well, entitled ” Too Much of A Good Thing – Why we need less democracy”. His thesis is that gridlock has impaired the government’s ability to act decisively in addressing the economic crisis.
In today’s New York Times, writer Nicholas Kulish conflates the dissatisfaction with the political class for a dissatisfaction with the democratic process. The establishment has decided that it is democracy that is the problem, not the actions of those in power.
In California, the redistricting process mandated by a ballot initiative was hijacked by Democratic Party activists who set in stone a new electoral map remarkably similar to the one previously written in the State Politburo. The president’s health care plan was passed by decidedly undemocratic means, rammed through on Christmas Eve without having been read by a single member of Congress.
In the White House itself, there is a legion of czars who have never faced scrutiny and who make the decisions that affect millions of jobs outside the authority of the constitutionally mandated Cabinet. The imperialization of the presidency has been accelerated like never before under the current administration.
And now that the policies of the government look to be failing, and with the popularity of the president and his party at historic lows, they have resorted to an assault on the democratic process. How ironic that the party of Jefferson now finds itself yearning for the Directorate of revolutionary France.
Protesters occupy Wall Street today looking for justice and equality in the face of a financial meltdown where there has been no accountability. One may question their politics and motivations, but the facts stand in evidence that criminal malfeasance almost brought down our economy and still the casino mentality holds sway. Our society has become oligarchic. There are more laws about accountability, and yet there is less accountability than at any time in memory. There buck stops somewhere out in the indeterminate there.
And yet government continues to accrue power. As old bureaucracies such as FNMA and the Post Office demonstrate the incompetence of our government, it has created new ones focused upon control such as the Department of Homeland Security. We are militarizing our law enforcement agencies even as they create their own crises such as Fast & Furious. These are very disturbing trends.
At a time when more people than ever from across the political spectrum are questioning authority the people in authority are questioning democracy itself.
The literature and history of the republic is replete with warnings by the Founding Fathers against authoritarianism. Benjamin Franklin famously stated after the Constitutional Convention when asked about our form of government, “A Republic, if you can keep it”. Jefferson said “When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty.” People fear government today more than at any time in our history.
When leading public officials question the fundamental principles that have served our country so well and use our institutions to further a statist agenda with no accountability, we at risk of losing our basic human rights.