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Converting Democracy into Tyranny
First, Democrats convince blacks that they can’t possibly achieve anything on their own. They can’t be expected to qualify for good schools without affirmative action. They couldn’t get a decent job without the assistance of benevolent white people. They can’t even be expected to raise their own children. And guess what? When you tell someone that they can’t do something and that we’ll do that for you, that is a perfect way to ensure that that person will stop trying. Why waste effort, when things are being taken care of for me? After all, I couldn’t do it anyway. I describe myself as a bleeding heart conservative because I loathe the destructive impact leftism has on the human soul.
Then Democrats did the same thing with whites. They told them they can’t accomplish anything on their own, from Obama’s “Julia” to Sen. Warren’s “You didn’t build that.” Now that any success enjoyed by a white person is due to white privilege and so on, even whites have been taught that they can’t achieve anything on their own, and that government should provide for them. Any white person that attempts to succeed on his or her own is described as racist and selfish. So why try?
Our founding fathers saw the purpose of the democratic process as a means of limiting the power of government. But our modern Democrat party takes a different view. Once you’ve convinced blacks, and whites, and everyone else that they can’t achieve on their own, you then establish government as a benevolent source of, well, everything. For everyone. Which makes government very powerful. Which makes those who control government very, very powerful. So our democratic process no longer limits the power of government as our founders intended – it increases the power of government. And the resulting increase in governmental power appears to follow an exponential curve.
Or, as Hemingway might say, the previously democratic government gains power gradually, and then suddenly.
As government begins to rapidly gain such enormous power, elections become too important to be left to chance, so the temptation to seek to control the outcomes of elections becomes irresistible. There’s just too much at stake.
At this point, democracy has been converted into tyranny.
And this is an especially powerful form of tyranny. The people are not likely to rise up to depose the leader, because they chose him. And if they do, they can’t just kill the king. The entire system has been built from the ground up to create centralized control systems, with enormous support from the news media, the educational establishment, federal & state bureaucracies, social media, cancel culture, peer pressure, and so on.
Encouraging weakness in individual citizens leads to enormous power in centralized government. Once a majority of citizens believe that they need a strong centralized government to help them, then that government becomes very powerful.
How can such a system be overturned? Once the entrenched power system becomes strong enough to control elections – even only partially – then they have absolute power. As described by Lord Acton, absolute power corrupts absolutely. Because everyone is on the take, not just the king. And then, that’s it. How can such a system be overturned?
It’s my understanding that when Thomas Jefferson first learned of the French Revolution, his first response was something like, “Good for them.” And once he learned how things were going, his next response was, “Oh my God…”
Our founding fathers feared the tyranny of the majority. And this was a major reason that they feared the use of government to redistribute wealth and power. When a law was proposed for the federal government to create a fund for widows of war veterans, James Madison was sympathetic to their cause, but responded with his famous line:
“I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents.”
There were many reasons for their caution in such matters. But I think they instinctively recognized that once our government got in the business of taking money away from some people and giving it to others, even with only the best of intentions, then their dream of limited government would have no chance of succeeding.
And that’s just with taxing and spending – they hadn’t even considered the limitless power that results from printing new money to buy votes. The government then takes on the role not just of Santa Claus, but also of God.
Would you vote against Santa Claus? What about God?
At that point, government has absolutely enormous power. And the leaders of the government also have absolutely enormous power.
A democratic government such as this has enormous power even with honest elections – who could vote against them? Only racist deplorables. Are you a racist deplorable? No? Well, then, vote for us. With the help of the news media, our educational system social media, etc, the opposition will have great difficulty winning elections.
But at some point, the government and its leaders become so powerful that there’s just too much at stake. Which makes elections of those leaders too important to be left to chance.
Which converts democracy into tyranny.
It all seems so nice. “Oh, you couldn’t possibly do that on your own. Let your government help you. Vote for me.” How nice.
And all that niceness converts democracy into a form of tyranny that is nearly impossible to overturn.
You know the saying: You can vote your way into socialism. But you’ll have to shoot your way out.Published in General
And a happy Friday to you, Doc (he says, searching for his bottle).
Expect a flat out assault on the 2nd amendment next.
(Btw, great essay – I agree with every comma and period.)
Hear, hear! Well said, sir. It is for this reason that I am a self-described 2A Absolutist.
Which is evidenced by the fervor with which government mandates (e.g. masks) are embraced. This dependence upon governmental wisdom and largess has become a religion.
There is a rather insightful quote supposedly from Alexis de Tocqueville, or from the Scott Alexander Fraser Tytler…
Neither actually said it, but both likely would agree with it.
When the gov’t becomes Santa and God…and controls the election processes, then we have truly come to the world that Ioseph Stalin loved…
As to what can be done about it, well, politics is downstream from culture and thus the culture has to change first. Until that does, the politics won’t.
Doc, may I publish this on RushBabe49.com?
Go right ahead.
I’m going by memory, so this may not be exactly right, but “Anyone who robs Peter to pay Paul will always have the support of Paul.”
Now posted, thanks very much, Doc.
Has this been promoted to Main Feed? I’d really like to send links to several non-members.
Excellent post, Dr. B. I was about to say, as always, but that seems somehow to diminish it. You are always worth reading, but this one is a particularly good analysis. Publication worthy.
Yep, and also now posted over at RushBabe49.com.
In the literal sense, a wonderful term of which I would count myself among the group. I suspect most who would consider themselves even ultra-staunch 2A supporters would fall well short of my (and your?) meaning.
And Mitt Romney, the Bul*****, and their followers bend over and say ‘Thank you, sir, may I have another?!”
Doc, why do you place the blame on the demagogues, er, Democrats, rather than on the voters?
When the children follow a Pied Piper, I’m inclined to be forgiving, because they are children. When the adults follow a Pied Piper, they have no excuse.
Is this an inherent problem in a system of representative government? If, as you suggest, our Founders were aware of this problem, then they failed to provide a check upon it, didn’t they? Though perhaps we can’t blame the Founders fairly, as it’s hard to imagine a check that would be effective.
Yes, I think the founders clearly anticipated this potential problem, and went to great lengths to prevent it.
But when government started redistributing wealth and power, the grand experiment of our founders was essentially over. There’s only one way that can turn out.
They wrote the Constitution expressly to avoid exactly what we’re experiencing right now. In order to transition from a democracy to a tyranny, we would have to do one of two things: Either make enormous changes to the Constitution, or ignore the Constitution.
We chose the second option – much easier.
Many people claim that communism is incompatible with human nature.
What if democracy is incompatible with human nature? One could be forgiven for reading the history of America and reaching that conclusion…
I wonder if the Founders contemplated a nation of three hundred million people. I wonder what they would have said, if asked whether their Constitution would “scale up” to a continent-wide nation of fifty states and 300M people, a plurality of whom came from other than Europe.
What provision in the Constitution prevented the federal government from spending money on welfare programs? Art. I, Sec. 8 gave Congress the power to tax “to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States.” That’s pretty broad, especially the general welfare part. You can argue that it should be construed narrowly, but it certainly is not clear.
Art. I, Sec. 9 contains a list of “Powers Denied Congress.” There is nothing in that list that would prevent welfare spending. The only clause relevant to spending is that: “No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law.” If anything, that suggests that it is up to Congress, through appropriations, to determine the legitimate scope of spending under the general welfare clause.
So I’m not convinced that the Founders addressed this problem in the Constitution.
Yeah, this may be correct, and it’s depressing. The history of Rome and Athens seem quite similar. Our Founders did contemplate serious restrictions on the franchise, though they left these to the states, many of which had significant age and property qualifications.
My comments above may seem very critical of the Founders. I hope that I made the point that it’s not really fair for us to criticize them for failing to protect us from ourselves. If there is a problem — and I think that there is — then the problem is the American people.
It seems to require both a high level of intellectual understanding, and a solid sense of morality, to resist the temptations of demagoguery.
There are some good comments over at my blog, by ex-Ricochet members.
As designed, American-style negative liberty requires at least straight-faced lip service to enumerated powers by those in positions of such power. It seems to me that to even accept the premise of your questions is to abandon all hope in the gift passed to us through the amazing wisdom of our Founding Generation.
P.S. Note that, while I don’t agree with what I sense is yet another of the perpetually obtuse lines of argument from you, in this case I agree with your larger point. I tend to repeat what I consider to be a version of it all too often:
And if they’re paying John too, then Paul and John can always outvote Peter.
Sure, liberal construction of the general welfare clause has caused a lot of damage. But your interpretation suffers from the same flaw that the interpretation the courts have made does: general welfare means everyone benefits. I’ve not benefited from any welfare programs, which means they aren’t for the general welfare, they’re for the welfare of specific individuals. You can hem and haw all you want, but Adams had it right: Congress doesn’t have the authority to spend money to ameliorate the life choices individuals make.
Well, if the scale of representation had remained the same, which I believe was (no more than) one for every 30,000 population, the House would now consist of 10,000 representatives.
I’ve read fairly convincing arguments that we’d be better off if that was the case.
Well maybe in the general sense that nothing would get done, maybe so. But doesn’t that also mean that – for one example – the Nazis would now control the world?
Sorry. I don’t follow the reasoning.
I’m not willing to assume that 10,000 members of the House could have been convinced to vote to declare war on Germany.
I’m not persuaded that the Congress we had at the time could have been too, except Adolph declared war on them first.
If nothing else, trying to herd 10,000 cats would drive the lobbyists nuts.
Only 5,001 would have been needed to be convinced.