I can’t stand it!
Everywhere I turn, I am still hearing seemingly well-informed people urging democracy for newly liberated Iraq.
Politicians say it is the goal. Generals say it is the goal. Journalists say it is the goal. Political scientists say it is the goal. Pundits say it is the goal.
What’s wrong with these people? Why are they equating “democracy” with “freedom”?
The roots of this confused thinking may have begun in America with President Woodrow Wilson who plunged the nation into the Great War, as it was known then, “to make the world safe for democracy.”
Just 24 years later, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt led America into World War II by proclaiming the country “must be the great arsenal of democracy.”
Whether this redefinition of American ideals was intentional deception or simple ignorance, the effects were the same. Americans have come to embrace democracy, which is a perfectly dreadful form of government – one that always leads to tyranny.
Some say I’m splitting hairs by continually beating this drum. I used to think that was the case, too, when I heard others point out the important distinctions between democracy and the American-style form of republican government. Not any more. If we can’t understand such basic concepts of political science and human nature, we have little hope of maintaining freedom in this country, let alone spreading liberty around the world.
The founders were not confused at all about the meaning of democracy. They were unanimous and unequivocal in their rejection of it for the new country.
Virginia’s Edmund Randolph told the Constitutional Convention in 1787 that members had gathered “to provide a cure for the evils under which the United States labored; that in tracing these evils to their origin every man had found it in the turbulence and trials of democracy.”
Boston’s Samuel Adams said: “Democracy never lasts long, it soon wastes, exhausts and murders itself. There was never a democracy that did not commit suicide.”
New York’s Alexander Hamilton said: “It has been observed that a pure democracy if it were practicable would be the most perfect government. Experience has proved that no position is more false than this. The ancient democracies in which the people themselves deliberated never possessed one good feature of government. Their very character was tyranny; their figure deformity.”
Virginia’s James Madison, the father of the Constitution, wrote: “… democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security, or the rights of property; and have in general been short in their lives as they are violent in their deaths.”
Virginia’s George Washington, the father of the country, explained his goal – “the preservation … of the republican model of government.”
Massachusetts’ Fisher Ames said: “Democracy, in its best state, is but the politics of Bedlam; while kept chained, its thoughts are frantic, but when it breaks loose, it kills the keeper, fires the building, and perishes.”
The word democracy appears nowhere in the Constitution, nowhere in the Declaration of Independence. When it appears at all in the writings of the founders, it is universally derided and contrasted sharply with the kind of republican government they sought to create and maintain.
Perhaps the most concise and definitive condemnation of democracy came from Lord Acton: “The one prevailing evil of democracy is the tyranny of the majority, or rather that party, not always the majority, that succeeds, by force or fraud, in carrying elections.”
My favorite analogy illustration of democracy is the one that equates it with two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for dinner. That’s really the fundamental problem with democracy – it doesn’t provide for the protection of minority rights.
And that’s why it is so important to drop all this democracy talk with respect to Iraq – a very diverse country where there are plenty of minority interests to protect.