A tsunami of American sentiment suggests that our Democracy is under unparalleled stress, and that recent events may be auguring the end of it.
This is a watershed moment, because democracy is hailed as one of the great advancements of Western civilization. It is also how many Americans proudly describe our own political system.
But what is this “Democracy” that is alleged to be on its deathbed? This question leads to some confusion. Let’s examine what “American Democracy” is and is not. This may help clarify where we go from here.
Ironically, the word “democracy” is not mentioned in our two iconic founding documents – The Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution.
The Founding Fathers feared pure democracy as much as they feared tyrants, so they structured our government as a Constitutional Republic. They framed a limited role for government, leaving Sovereign Individuals free to pursue their own happiness without the dark shadows of tyrants or hyperactive majorities looming over them.
Yes, some elements of democracy are implied in our founding documents, but not in the fullness or the spirit that many commonly believe. For example, since America is a Republic, the political interests of the people are delegated to representatives in the government, who are elected by popular vote. In this sense, democracy is a simple counting of votes to select between politicians. It is not an overriding political philosophy that defines any desired rights, values, or ends.
Pure Democracy is morally agnostic, because moral laws are no more determined by voting than are the physical laws of the universe. It is power by Majority Rule, not an expression of right or wrong. It is rarely an expression of wisdom, and usually an expression of our baser instincts. It is a series of unstable mob-like lurches driven by factional passions and transient issues. Tyrants can be voted into office. Incompetent legislators can win public office merely because they have a lot of money (from their own piggybanks or from lobbyists) with which to dazzle the proles. Venal politicians can bribe their constituents to vote for them with the promise of government handouts. Villainous policies can be sanctioned by the votes of simple majorities, because pure democracy is basically two wolves and a sheep voting on what’s for dinner. It is worth noting that the National Socialist (Nazi) Party was democratically elected to office in Germany, and that the French Revolution, which was more “democratic” than the American Revolution, famously devoured its own children.
Fortunately, America is not a pure democracy. Political issues are not decided by majority vote of the people at large. They are decided by elected officials who presumably bring wisdom and integrity to the political process. Furthermore, no matter how popular our leaders or their decisions are, they are theoretically constrained by constitutional guarantees of individual rights and constitutional limits on government power. The Constitution is thus the ultimate mechanism by which we the people limit the excesses and passions of our own leaders and our own majoritarian instincts.
The Founders believed that it was more important to constitutionally protect the rights of minorities (and the smallest minority is the Sovereign Individual) than it was to grant the unlimited wishes of majorities. Allowing majorities to override the rights and interests of individuals is a path to collectivized tyranny, not a path to freedom. Majority Rule has only one limit – whatever the majority wants. Lacking any other limit, it necessarily threatens individual rights and enables overreaching government power. It is the sacrifice of the individual good to the illusion of the common good, which is the ultimate irony. Majority Rule is incompatible with a free society, and no sane person should advocate it.
The Founders believed in a more unstructured kind of democracy – democracy with a small “d”, if you will. They envisioned sovereign individuals being free to make their own decisions in their daily lives. They believed that real democracy is the freedom of each person to choose where they live, where they work, where they shop, where their children go to school, where they worship, who they interact with, and how their earnings get spent. They believed that the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, which are best expressed by making voluntary exchanges in free markets, reflected the true spirit of democracy in the grandest sense of the word.
In other words, people freely “voting” with their feet and their dollars every minute of every day is a far more powerful form of democracy than casting ballots for distant strangers every two years and then sacrificing individual sovereignty to the majoritarian mandates emanating from an overreaching government.
The Founders also advocated an even more basic form of democracy. They expressed this in the Declaration of American Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. That, to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That, whenever any form of Government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”
Powerful words. The Founders meant what they wrote, because they risked their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor to exercise the ultimate democratic power of the American people, which was to separate from the monarchical British Empire and to establish a new form of government.
So what does democracy mean to Americans today? Does it mean we should accept a government that is bigger and more intrusive than the British Monarchy that we separated from in the 18th Century? Does it mean we should accept the woeful, self-interested, elitist candidates put forward each election by the two major political parties? Does it mean we should accept an electoral process that is contaminated by big money, big institutions, and stunning fraud? Does it mean we should accept leaders who are destroying our natural rights to live our lives as we see fit, free from government interference?
Our elected representatives are supposed to protect our interests, but instead they are ignoring the Constitution and trampling on our rights. We the People are supposed to choose those representatives, but instead many of them are Manchurian candidates beholden to “others”. Our legally cast votes should determine who wins an election, but instead dark forces are fraudulently orchestrating victory for their preferred candidates.
Our Constitutional Republic has been hollowed out. A left-leaning, hyperactive administrative state will crush what remains of our free society. With the Left now controlling the House, the Senate, and the Presidency, and with their cohorts in Big Tech, Big Media, Big Culture, and Big Education serving as their quislings, the curtain is coming down on individual sovereignty in America. It is not exactly the Tyranny of the Majority that the founders feared. Rather, it is the tyranny of One-Party Rule with its attendant political, structural, and cultural hegemony over everyone else. Let the new Reign of Terror begin!
The sight of that curtain coming down is our cue to resurrect the basic, inalienable form of democracy envisioned by the Founders. We the people must reassert our natural rights which exist outside the framework of any government. We the people must fight for our fundamental right to vote with our feet and our dollars so that we can live our lives as we see fit. We the people must withdraw our consent from the current corrupted political process because it is designed to serve the Elites and the factions that support them, at the expense of the common citizen.
In other words, we the people must execute our most basic democratic power. That is exactly what the Founders did in 1776. We have no moral obligation to accept an elective despotism. True democracy means that whatever power we the people granted our government we can choose to take away at any time.
Withdrawing our consent to be governed by our new leftist overlords can come in many forms. We can nurture a robust alternative political party in order to demolish the centuries-long Republican/Democrat elitist duopoly. We can amend the Constitution to explicitly limit how much the government can intrude in our lives, perhaps with a defined cap on government taxation and spending. We can migrate to states that may be willing to peacefully secede from the union in order to refresh the original vision of America. I’m sure there are other options, too.
It is a fool’s errand to keep trying to reform the current government. The Elites who control it have become so enamored with plundering the country to suit their blind, short-term, collectivist ambitions that the concept of individual rights protected by a Constitution has been banished into obscurity.
We should instead refresh our hearts and minds with the stirring words of the Declaration of Independence: “Whenever any form of Government becomes destructive, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government”. Is there any doubt that this time is upon us? The government has become an ever-growing Leviathan, absorbing a larger and larger share of societal wealth, and eroding more and more individual rights. It has become a political predator that dwarfs any tyrannical nightmare the Founders may have envisioned.
The form of our civil disobedience must be wisely chosen. The current government possesses great power to coerce and harm us.
But choose we must. So let us choose from among the options described above, all of which are moral and democratic prerogatives of sovereign individuals. Which option is most appropriate? Let’s debate that with great vigor, as did the Founders in the years leading up to 1776.
The Founders’ vision of democracy is not dying in America. It is about to blossom again.