A brief observation regarding Republicans and Democrats, and our government.
Published Tue, Jul 24 2012 6:09 PM
It’s all in a name. At least, when I start to think about it I become more and more convinced of it anyway. What follows obviously oversimplifies the argument, but
We all know that there are two major political parties in these United States. One is the Democratic party. The other is the Republican party. If you think about those names long enough, you can find a world of difference in their underlying political philosophies – or, at least in those of the “core” membership.
The Democratic party looks at the United States as a democracy. Talk to them and you’ll find many of them believe that we ought to be a pure democracy and that everyone, citizens or not, should have a vote. The problem with pure democracy is that it is always rule by the majority – whether the decisions of the majority are good for all or not.
The Republican party looks at these Unites States as a republic. Talk to them and you’ll find some of them believe that the federal government is meant to bind the states into a cohesive whole and to govern them – each of them being a sovereign state. They’ll tell you that the federal government’s true purpose is to defend the states and to represent the union of the states before the rest of the world, and that the states ought to protect the rights of their citizens. At least some of them will tell you that.
Ben Franklin famously said that the founders gave us “a republic, if you can keep it”.
The problem here is that the states have continually given up their sovereignty to the federal government and abandoned their responsibility to govern their people. One example (among many possible examples): Rather than choosing representatives to the federal government for the states (Senators) that would preserve the states interest, they abandoned that responsibility, some states even going without Senate representation until the 17th amendment took the power of selection of Senators away from the states and gave it to the people directly – a victory for “democracy” and a blow to “republicanism”.
I won’t even go into how the federal government also went over the top a century and a half ago and eviscerated the 9th and 10th amendments. Nor am I going to go into how court decisions have twisted the plain meaning of words.
All I really wanted to do was note the basic differences that I see between the underlying philosophies of the party cores – or at least what I perceived to be the party cores as I was getting to know them. Neither party really looks like that anymore.
I still think the names are important.
I am not a lover of democracy. I believe that democracy always devolves into tyranny at some point.
I am not a lover of government. To me government restrains our liberties more than it tends to preserve them. The only laws that tend to preserve our liberties are those that restrain government or that defend us from enemies – foreign or domestic. Government is an evil, a necessary evil considering the nature of man, but an evil nonetheless.
I would far rather have a republic of sovereign states than a democracy. What we have looks like a republic on the surface to some. To others it looks like a democracy on the surface.
It’s really neither. I’m Sorry Mr. Franklin – we’ve already lost that republic.
We live under a bureaucracy. The bureaucracy grows – it almost never shrinks and when it does it’s only for a short time. It’s power only multiplies or is transformed, never reduced. Court decisions help it grow – and at best only stall it for a while. Our presidents feed it and defend it. Congress abandons its own power and responsibility, handing it off to the bureaucracy. This may be in part due to the fact that “the real power in Congress” isn’t our Senators or our Representatives – it’s career staffers.
Congressional staffers and bureaucrats are the true power in this country. Congressional staffers write our laws – not Congressmen or Senators, they can’t even be bothered to read them. I’d be willing to bet that the only part of “Dodd-Frank” that Barney Frank actually contributed to was his name and some vague direction to his staffers. He certainly didn’t write thousands of pages.
Unwinding it all is rather a scary proposition. In my entire lifetime I’ve never seen it begun in earnest. I doubt that I ever will. The best I can hope for is that the people I vote for will at least attempt to slow the growth of the cancer that our federal bureaucracy has become – and that they’ll at least fight tooth and nail not to give up any more of their power or responsibility to the bureaucracy – the unelected, faceless, heartless fourth branch of our government – the one with the true power.
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David responded with:
What can I say except, "True dat"? :-)
The problem with a democracy is pretty much as you state with the added point that, "In a democracy (‘rule by mob’), those who refuse to learn from history are in the majority and dictate that everyone else suffer for their ignorance." Of course, that is quite apart from the number who vote to be deliberately destructive simply for own benefit.
As for the power of the "bureaucrappy" and the other "service nobility" (the staffers, etc.--much like Tsarist Russia) and the problem of bureaucracy--that it is necessary for governments to function but is always ruled by Parkinson's Law and Pournelle's Iron Law of Bureaucracy--well, it's most akin to a lawn. Water and feed a lawn and it grows, often much too fast to keep up with mowing it in a reasonable time frame, and it always consumes more resources--equipment, time, etc.--than it is worth.
BTW, I like a recent Pournelle proposal for a temporary approach to pruning back bureaucracy: give Congress six months, a year, some definitive time frame to either confirm, individually, by individual vote, EACH AND EVERY bureaucratic interpretation of law, every regulation, every procedure, as well as every law upon which they are based, or at the end of that time any law, rule, regulation or procedure that has not been individually upheld by open vote of Congress will be null and void.
The primary reason I like that idea is that it would consume so much congresscritter time that they'd have no time left over for new mischief. Of course, the fact that such a thing would be REAL WORK and pretty much prevent new mischief assures that nothing even remotely like it will ever be implemented. *sigh*
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