Tag: Democracy

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Fellow Ricochetti, this is my final dispatch from Bucharest. Politics, such as it is, looks like its heading towards normality, such as we have it. The process of normalization is as full of disappointment as you would expect. There is very little reflection on the difference between the two states, though everyone can tell abnormal […]

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  I have written breathlessly, for my Ricochet audience, about the protests that led to the fall of the PM & his government, creatures of the party that nevertheless runs the bicameral legislature. There is great embarrassment in the country now. Again, there are thousands of people protesting in the streets of Bucharest, so rapidly […]

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Dispatch from Bucharest: Are we Having Another Revolution?

 

shutterstock_171837251Greeting from troubled Europe, Ricochet and America! Romania is in political turmoil. I write from calm, prosperous, populous Bucharest, probably the safest, least troubled capital in Europe. The protests and political turmoil here have nothing to do with immigration. Horror came over the weekend — I thank again my fellow Ricochetti who inquired as to my safety! — when a nightclub burned down; there are nearly three dozen dead, another seven dozen wounded. These poor souls have somehow been connected to a political anger that is rarely voiced and never articulated here.

It is no explanation, but the facts are as follows: Prime Minister Victor Ponta will resign. The leader of the party running the legislature — and, therefore, the government — made the announcement; Ponta himself has not yet spoken. In name, this is a socialist party or social-democrat party. In deed, it is the party of the oligarchy. The PM runs the country, but it is not clear on what leash he runs.

The man who runs Ponta’s socialist party is Mr. Liviu Dragnea, of whose criminal deeds no one is in doubt. He is a new, corrupt man of ambition representing one of the more important fiefdoms. He has risen through the party without any connection to popular politics. He resigned from government earlier this year — in happier times — because of an unfortunate indictment. This is not necessarily held against him by the oligarchy (I hope to explain the basics of Romanian politics in a sequel post). For now, let me give you a view of democratic politics here.

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Mr. LaRoche has recently publicized the suggestion that men do not prize intelligence in women, which is a way of saying, men do not like to be second-guessed. (He’s got this really good joke that cuts to the essence: I’m not a dog, I don’t need to be fixed.–They really are different in Texas…) Having […]

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I expect most people on Ricochet have lives to live, so that the experience of folks who live out fantasies might be of some exotic interest, in the way visiting Europe has been interesting to Americans, every now & then, but not too soon after escaping the dead hand of the past… I expect, further, […]

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Here’s the second essay by Mr. Mansfield on the American parties–this time it’s the GOP. You have below my notes–everything italicized is a quote, but the structure I just improvised. I think Mr. Mansfield has a good grasp of American politics, but of course you’ll decide for yourself. So far as I understand the essay–he […]

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Here’s Mr. Mansfield’s recent work telling the story of American politics in the 20th century & the challenge facing conservatives now. This first part deals with the problems of the Democrats. I think it lays out well both the strengths & the weaknesses of modern liberalism, & therefore raises the question, why do not conservatives […]

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Have you been around the recent political discussions on Ricochet? Lots of people seem ok with the opinion that only net contributors to the public fisc should be allowed to vote. The name for that is, of course, oligarchy. All these men, of course, are convinced that the criterion would never ever become more restrictive–say, […]

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The Henry Jackson Society, an anti-extremism pro-human rights UK think tank, has just published a curious report on the potential impact of the Muslim population in the upcoming 7 May UK elections. Despite its strong and well-researched claims, it hasn’t seemed to have picked up much traction in the media. (For some inexplicable reason the word ‘islamophobia’ […]

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The Ricochet Weekend Essay Assignment

 

stllewisIn C. S. Lewis’s classic work the Screwtape Letters, you’ll recall, Screwtape, a senior demon, offers advice to Wormwood, his nephew, on the most useful techniques for leading humans, by slow degrees, to hell. Here, just a couple of sentences — and note that when Screwtape refers to “the Enemy” he is writing about God.

“There’s nothing like suspense and anxiety for barricading a human’s mind against the Enemy. He wants men to be concerned with what they do; our business is to keep them thinking about what will happen to them.”

Your assignment: To demonstrate the applicability of these two sentences (if indeed you see any at all) to the duties of a citizen in a democracy.

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Modern generations assume that universal suffrage is a moral necessity of any democracy. Does that assumption hold up against scrutiny?  The theory of popular democracy (“popular” implying inclusion of all or most citizens) reflects our emphasis on the value of free will. The basic argument for universal suffrage is: “Everyone is due free will (even […]

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The People’s House

 

McCarthyWhen I interviewed him yesterday for Uncommon Knowledge, Congressman Kevin McCarthy of California, the new House Majority Leader, stressed the truly democratic character of the House of Representatives.  Members of the House, he said with real affection for the institution, come from all walks of life.  He spoke with particular pride of having persuaded a farmer from Frog Jump, Tennessee — of all places — to run for the House in 2010… a farmer who is now known as Congressman Stephen Fincher.

Here’s the way Leader McCarthy summed it up:

I think of the Senate as a country club.  The House of Representatives is more like a diner.

Totalitarian Democracies and Cloistered Kings

 

shutterstock_141024430When President George W. Bush and many others were trumpeting the need for democracy throughout the world, some conservatives were keen to remind us that “democratic” is only an adjective in the USA’s formal identity as a democratic republic. The noun — the republic — is primary. Still, it has become normal to cite democracy as the fundamental principle on which any free society is built.

Yet, as has become increasingly evident in Western governments, democracy and the totalitarian impulse are not mutually exclusive. Expansion and centralization of power seem to be the natural inclination of any government, regardless of how that power is derived. The emergence of the nanny state in America did not slow with the Amendment affording citizens the direct election of Senators or with improved communication between voters and representatives.  

As conservatives, we don’t seek Utopian perfection in government. We acknowledge that no system can completely overcome the complexity, the errors, and the temptations of human interaction. So my question is not: “What alternative to democracy can keep government limited and local?” Rather, it is this humbler but equally difficult question: “Do democratic systems offer the best possible restraints on centralization and expansion of power?”

In Which I Offer Faint-Hearted Praise of Victor Yanukovych, or, A Letter to Dr. Rahe

 

shutterstock_176640020Dear Paul,

Your posts on Ukraine have turned my thinking right around: Either the United States stands up to Vladimir Putin over his invasion of a historically complicated but nevertheless sovereign nation or we’ll find Putin emboldened on the Black Sea and the Baltic, and other bad guys emboldened—well, everywhere from Syria to the inner counsels of the Chinese military in Beijing.

I’m with you. I get it.