Saturday, October 3, 2009

When Democracy Gets It Wrong

I'm pretty sure that it was Thomas Jefferson who once said something to the effect that a democracy can be very unjust in that as little as 51% of the population can impose laws that are against the will of the remaining 49%.

But, to Jefferson, I would say that he was being quite Utopian in that belief.

In reality, there are times when a representative form of democracy, like our republic, is even more unjust than in what that simple majority-rule viewpoint would suggest. In fact, there are times when the will of the many are clearly being outweighed by the wishes of a few. I believe that our current government is a true example of this.

America has been, for years, a center-right country; and, all indications are that is still true. Yet, we now have a government, in complete control, that believes they have been given a mandate to govern from the left or even from the far left. Therein blows the purity of Jefferson's majority-rule hypothesis. In many ways, we now have a legislature in power with a philosophy that represents 38% or less of the population; and, that is a problem. A problem that can only lead to political unrest.

Earlier this week, an opinion writer for the New York Times, Thomas Friedman, wrote about the current political unrest in our country. He likened it to the time in Israel when Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated (Click to See Full Story: "Where Did ‘We’ Go?"). He expressed this concern by saying: "extreme right-wing settlers and politicians were doing all they could to delegitimize Rabin...And in so doing they created a poisonous political environment that was interpreted by one right-wing Jewish nationalist as a license to kill Rabin...".

Then, he went on to lament that the 'We' -- the supposed majority of this country -- are being poisoned by the right's attempt to similarly delegitimize Barack Obama. Of course, the only logical conclusion to that belief is that Obama will suffer the same fate as Rabin.

But, where this left-wing writer is getting it all wrong is in the false belief that the 'We' -- as in the concept of "We, the people" -- that he sees, is somehow the true majority. In reality, the 'We' he seems to see as the political middle is really his 'We' or the political left. And, when you look to the center of this country from a far left perspective, anything in the middle looks to be right-wing. To say that the far-right political fringe has somehow hijacked the political middle is complete nonsense.

First and foremost, the "voice" of the right and the far right is only a small voice in the grand scheme of things. Sure, the right dominates talk radio and, of course, they have that hated Fox News channel on cable. But, at best, this is a "voice" that reaches no more than 3 or 4% of the entire adult population of the country. More often than not, talk radio and Fox News are simply news and opinion outlets that are preaching to the choir and not necessarily making any inroads into changing the majority of national public opinion. Certainly, not enough to poison all the 'We' of this country.

The left, on the other hand, has much more power in getting their own message out. Besides the fact that they now have the power of the 'Bully Pulpit', they control almost all the print media. They have both PBS and NPR in their back pockets. The national broadcast news operations, along with CNN and MSNBC, are all left to left of center in their reporting. They even have a majority of party loyalists in the entertainment industry and shows like Letterman, Leno, and Jon Stewart tend to promote their political agenda in a more disingenuous and backdoor fashion. And, of course, our educational system in America is almost completely dominated by left-leaning union teachers and professors; which means our kids are getting less than a centrist viewpoint with their education.

What Mr. Friedman should do is look at the opinion polls and then he might understand why the 'We' isn't standing with Obama and this Congress. The 'We' is absent because the people who are running the "show" are more 'Us' politically oriented and less interested in governing from either the center or, even, left of center.

This is the true reason why Mr. Friedman -- like a lot of those on the far left -- can't seem to understand all that angst towards this Congress and this President. He, like most people on the left, seem to see the current political unrest as being some kind of "new" political experience for the country; completely forgetting the vile hatred of Bush by the left over the eight years of his Presidency.

In trying to rationalize all this 'new' unrest, people like Friedman have labeled the Town Hall goers and the Tea Party attendees as angry white and right-wing mobs. Then, too, they have rationalized the 'unrest' by saying that it all has to do with race and racism over the President's skin color. Now, Friedman has even added an element into the mix by saying that the far right has created "...a different kind of American political scene that makes me wonder whether we can seriously discuss serious issues any longer and make decisions on the basis of the national interest.."

The problem with Friedman's lament of seeing a "different kind of political scene" is the fact that this Congress and this President are proceeding with their agenda and refusing to "discuss" the "serious issues" at hand and are attempting to pass laws that are completely contrary to the true "national interest" of the country. In poll after poll, the American people keep saying that it is the deficit and spending, the economy, two wars and rogue countries seeking nuclear weapons that are things that they are most concerned about. Yet, the President and Congress are more interested in health care reform; saving the planet with Cap and Trade; closing Guantanamo bay; and, even promoting the 2016 Olympics in Chicago. It's as if Nero has been reborn and the country, as did Rome, is figuratively burning while the President is busy fiddling with everything but our real national problems.

The anger that Friedman seems to see is one that is actually being created by his very own, President. If this President is being delegitimized, it is because he has done that to himself. The right had nothing to do with it. They are just the messengers. Instead, Obama has created a condition of 'lost' public trust by breaking almost every promise he has made. Sometimes only days after making one! Obama and Friedman should understand that it is public trust that goes a long, long way in making people think that any President is legitimate.

Mr. Friedman would better serve his concerns about President Obama if he would look at 'why' there is 'unrest' and not focus in on the hypothetical "what could happen" -- should it continue. I can assure Mr. Friedman that the unrest would just go away when the true 'We' are restored to their proper place in the political scheme of things. Until then, the unrest will continue and we will see the impact of that unrest in the upcoming gubernatorial elections and Congressional elections next year.

As far as his concerns about any assassination attempt, there are always going to be a few people out there who would do harm to any President; and, this President is no different and not necessarily in any greater danger than those Presidents who have come before him. In fact, just a year ago, a Maine resident was arrested for making threats to both Bush and Obama. Certainly, this person was hardly being driven by some right wing extremism.

The true reason for Friedman's article is that he wants the unrest to just stop without addressing the underlying reasons for it. He doesn't want to hear about or acknowledge the cure for it; which would be to legislate from the middle of the country. Instead, he wants the 'We' to just roll over and accept everything that this liberal President and this Democrat-controlled Congress wants to do. He can't accept the fact that the unrest is a direct result of not having any true 'democracy' in our democracy. That's why, in this case, Jefferson's original comment was true but, not true enough. At this particular time, it appears that our form of democracy has really got it wrong!


Cranky George said...

An Update:

The actual Tom Jefferson quotes is as follows:

"A democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where fifty-one percent of the people may take away the rights of the other forty-nine."

I don't know why I could find it originally.

Cheryl Pass said...

You know word of legitimate argument against a left-wingers results in the left-wingers banging their heads in childish tantrums, screams of outrage, name calling, threats of shutting people up and then....the mother of all bombshells..."oh my gosh someone might do something violent." It is amazing to watch, but not fun.
If one lunatic does manage to pull off some horrific act...the rest of us are going to lose our free speech and 2nd amendment rights for sure.
As for representation....I haven't seen much of that for a long time. Gerrymandering has become 'legal,' so our representative republic has gone the way of hand-cranked ice cream. Besides that, they are following the Alinsky model by demonizing anyone who doesn't agree with them. This is by the book and they have all been trained quite well....sort of like seals in a circus. I wish you were not correct, but I am sorry to say you are totally right on this.