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Understatement of the Year

I linked to this article earlier, but I wanted to highlight a quote:

But the problem might be less with Obama and more with democracy itself. To be a citizen in a mass democracy is to live in a permanent state of political frustration. There are so many people in the country with so many different views, and the institutions of a mass democracy are inevitably so clunky, that the political process isn’t going to give you what you want very much of the time.

Like the people who founded this country, I’ve never been convinced that more democracy in government is always a good thing. The old saying that democracy is two wolves and a sheep voting on what’s for dinner is cliche, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t true. Our system was supposed to be a Constitutional Republic, with some democratic features, but with enough restraints placed on government that we could govern a large, diverse country without constantly being at each other’s throats. Unfortunately, the more democracy you add to the mix, the more it seems like those restrains don’t matter.

11 Responses to “Understatement of the Year”

  1. The Noob says:

    You have a bike.

    In a Democracy: if the majority of the people want your bike, they get your bike.

    In a Constitutional Republic: If the majority of the people want your bike, it doesn’t matter because the constitution says it’s your bike and no one can take it from you.

    The founding fathers knew the dangers of a Democracy. They also wanted the federal government to be so limited in its power that it wouldn’t matter at all who was elected.

  2. Zermoid says:

    I believe Ben Franklin is quoted as saying it was a Republic, run by a Democracy.

    • Arnie says:

      It was Dr. Franklin who stated the “cliche” Sebastian quoted about the sheep and the wolves.

      • Alpheus says:

        I don’t know if Ben Franklin said the bit about wolves and sheep, or if it was just attributed to him (I think it’s also been attributed to Thomas Jefferson)…in any case, it doesn’t matter, the sentiment is what’s important.

        As for what Ben Franklin said about Republics, I seem to recall him describing the Constitution as “a Republic, if you could keep it!” I’m not sure if we’ve been doing too well at that.

        (There’s an ad for “Challenger Schools” that comes up again and again, where a “Man on the Street” is asking people what government we have, and everyone is saying “a democracy” except for a little boy from Challenger, who says “A Republic, and in our Republic, we have a Constitution to protect our rights” or something cheesy like that.

        Every time I hear that advertisement, or something like it, I want to hear the answer “A Republic, if we could keep it!” Sadly, I seldom do…but I’m not holding my breath on it, either.)

  3. TS says:

    I see two major reasons why government is horribly inefficient: one is the lack of competition (which we hear all the time), but the other is because it will naturally be locked in a state of gridlock. It takes a tremendous amount of energy to move an inch when there is a near equal force in opposition. Government represents the entire populace, and the entire populace is NEVER going to agree on anything. How much money do you think we just collectively wasted to get NO gun control?

  4. Arnie says:

    EXACTLY!!! Everything I’ve read about the Founders concerning Democracy was that they despised it as much as monarchy. Tyranny by a mob is no better than tyranny by a king or a Parliament. Federalism split the power between the States and the Feds, and the Constitution further divided federal power between the three branches, of which only one-half of one (the Legislative Branch’s House of Representatives) was chosen directly by the voters. The Bill of Rights, especially the Tenth Amendment, was included to further restrict the House from imposing majority oppression of the rights of the minority (beginning with “Congress shall make no law….”).

    I cringe every time I hear an ignorant politician proclaim us a democracy!

  5. Ursa Ele says:

    It looks like neither Toomey nor Manchin is done trying to ram gun control down our throats and at least some Republicans apparently are eager to change their votes and vote for the law, but they need to know it will pass first:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/26/us/politics/senators-quietly-seek-a-new-path-on-gun-control.html?hp&_r=0

  6. Patrick H says:

    I think part of it also is that the Founders expected the states to be where people get what they want. The feds were just supposed to be small and not have much to do except national defense.

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