According to the headline, former President Jimmy Carter has pronounced “democracy” in America dead, gone and replaced by “oligarchy.” He cites as proof the high cost of running for office. This means that he is using the word “oligarchy” to refer to rule by the wealthy few. But are disparities in wealth the real threat to government of, by and for the people of the United States? As written, our Constitution makes no mention of any property or wealth qualification for voters. Once upon a time such qualifications were imposed by various state governments, but that, too, is a thing of the past. In our present politics, the dependence on wealth is therefore not the result of some constitutional imposition or deficiency.
Indeed, in terms of legal formalities, ballot participation for all citizens is more a reality than it has ever been. In fact, if there is a crisis in this regard, it has to do with the movement to extend the franchise with little or no regard to citizenship, even to people who have entered and remain in the United States illegally. When more people than ever are able to participate in our elections, and the push is to widen participation even more, what justifies the claim that “democracy” is dead and gone? Democracy literally refers to the strength or power of the people. Since more people than ever have the opportunity to wield ballot power, what justifies the conclusion that “democracy” is dead?
To be sure, wealth plays a more important role in the present political process than it has ever played in the previous history of the United States. But that is a feature of the present sham party system, a feature carefully contrived and maintained by the elitist faction powers that control it. While the opportunity to cast a ballot vote is more accessible than ever (with some supposed cheerleaders for “democracy” proposing that voting be made compulsory), meaningful ballot access (i.e., the opportunity to offer someone to voters as a candidate for office) is, as it were, a shadow of its former self.
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As I pointed out several years ago, the elitist faction controls meaningful ballot access informally, by imposing the view that no candidacy is “viable” without massive money and media support. This allows the elitist faction’s money and media powers to pre-screen individual candidacies. By giving or withholding their support and attention they either lift candidates into public view, or hold them beneath the threshold of public attention. This discourages some people from proposing candidacies they are sure would benefit the body politic, and others from supporting such candidacies even though they strongly agree that they would be beneficial.
So, though more people may cast a vote, an elitist clique controls what they perceive to be the options effectively available for their choice. This control is what dooms the nation to oligarchic rule. The effort to blame it on disparities of wealth is a ploy, intended to focus resentment on the wealth, rather than on the ambition for power that drives the elitist faction’s abuse of that wealth to subvert the integrity of the electoral process.
Stirring that resentment also serves another even more insidious purpose. Thanks to the subversion of the electoral process, the elitist faction sees itself in control of the decisive positions of government power. By successfully rousing voter resentment against the wealthy, the elitist faction powers expand the constituency of support for measures that consolidate the government’s legal power to control concentrations of wealth and redistribute it in ways that reward those who support their clique and dissolve the strength of any who oppose it.
The elitist faction clique aimed the death blow at the Constitution of republican self-government, ordained and established by the people of the United States. Jimmy Carter’s backhanded lament over its corpse suggests that they believe they have achieved their aim. Now, by blaming the death of “democracy” on the wealth – not the ambition – of the few, they seek to exploit the resentment and anger that achievement has roused to fuel the dismantlement of any legal limits on the abuse of the government powers they have obtained by its destruction. Once that’s done, the core of their totalitarian tyranny will have achieved critical mass. But contrary to Jimmy Carter’s false pronouncement, “democracy” will not be among the dead, but rather among the living dead, as it was in all the Democratic People’s Republics that darkened the pages of the 20th century’s history with dismal oppression and innocent blood.
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That said, Americans who understand and still uphold the premises and institutions of the constitutional republic established by our nation’s founders know better than to join in Jimmy Carter’s false lament for dear old dead “democracy.” The key to the rightful liberty of the American people was never simply their material strength or power (the root meaning of the word “democracy”). It lies in their capacity to understand and insist upon a government that represents the goodwill of their commitment to stand “firm in the right as God gives us to see the right,” and by doing so maintain a government that secures their commitment to exercise the unalienable rights endowed by their Creator.
Whatever elitist faction tools like Jimmy Carter may imagine, the elitist faction’s battle to overthrow our liberty is not yet done – not as long as there are people of good faith who will stand firm, in defiance of lawless courts, lawless presidents and lawless elitist faction apparatchiks, whatever party label they wear. Instead of looking to the elitist faction’s party sham, we must recover the vision that informed the provisions of our Constitution – the vision of elections made by the people themselves, mobilized in the interest of their country’s good and trusting no one to represent them who was never at their side, serving that cause rather than his/her own success, profit or ambition.
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