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  • So This Is How Democracy Dies

    Posted by Bruno Behrend on September 30th, 2011 (All posts by )

    embedded by Embedded Video

    YouTube DirektHow Liberty Dies

    How is this for a headline?

    “Key Democrats call for Ending Democracy”

    Some people subscribe to the idea that politicians are stupid. They shoot from the hip until reined in by their consultants during election season. There is probably a great deal of truth to that. On the other hand, the use of the “trial balloon” is a well-tested technique for gauging public reaction to an idea.

    With that in mind, I submit today’s WSJ’s “Notable and Quotable” into evidence to let the jury decide.

    “Most Americans complain that government is unresponsive to their wishes. But not everyone feels that way. In the space of two days, two prominent Democrats have called for less responsive government that ignores public input.
     
    One of them, former White House Budget Director Peter Orszag, penned a piece this week in the New Republic arguing, as the title says, “Why we need less democracy.” Orszag wrote that “the country’s political polarization was growing worse—harming Washington’s ability to do the basic, necessary work of governing.” His solution? “[W]e need to minimize the harm from legislative inertia by relying more on automatic policies and depoliticized commissions for certain policy decisions. In other words, radical as it sounds, we need to counter the gridlock of our political institutions by making them a bit less democratic.” . . .
     
    [S]imilar comments by Gov. Bev Perdue, D-N.C., are far more troubling. “I think we ought to suspend, perhaps, elections for Congress for two years and just tell them we won’t hold it against them, whatever decisions they make, to just let them help this country recover,” Perdue told a Rotary Club gathering in suburban Raleigh this week. “I really hope that someone can agree with me on that.”

    Gaffe or Trial Balloon?

    I’m in the trial balloon camp. I think the “Ruling Elite” (aptly described by Codevilla) wants to literally cut governance from “the consent of the governed.”

    Democrat or Republican, inside government or outside, these rulers are in the process of turning most important decisions over to “depoliticized commissions,” and they simply don’t want any pesky citizens or constitutional barriers in their way. This class of people has a simple goal – to turn America’s “government of laws, not men,” on its head. They want to govern by edicts issued by commissions. I may be wrong, and I don’t want to appear overwrought, but I think this is (or should be) a big deal.

    I don’t know how to make this a huge campaign issue, but it should become the top issue on the presidential campaign trail immediately. If I were Perry or Cain, I’d be asking for a poll of our military brass to ask whether they would follow the ruling elite, or uphold the Constitution. Obama should be asked to repudiate all of the above statements. He should be threatened with making his tacit approval of the statements a central campaign issue. [As an aside, looked at in the context of the above statements, Perry’s musings about secession are now perfectly reasonable.]

    This issue goes way beyond tax rates, regulation, class wars, abortion, or party politics. This goes to the heart of the nation. It illustrates a cancer eating away at the Republic. That cancer isn’t merely a bad idea floated for reaction. The people floating it are evil. They are the cancer.

    Orszag and Perdue are cancerous tumors that need to be removed by vote. Every citizen should make this a huge issue – at every level of government – in the upcoming elections. There is a great deal of evidence that raising this issue could be monumentally successful against the current administration and those in the Democratic Party that support it.

    Recent polling, highlighted in a National Review article shows that a good number of rank and file Democrats could be swayed to vote differently with the right message.

    The Battleground Poll showed that:

    The lesson here is that the conservative brand is perfectly acceptable in many corners of the coalition that comprises blue America. That may explain why strategists on the left feel it is so important to toss what Ross Perot famously described as “monkey dust” into the air to cloud debates on so many important policy issues and dissuade these voters from entertaining and ultimately embracing conservative solutions. It also explains why leftist politicians use conservative rhetoric to sell their wares: It not only works among middle-of-the-road voters, it can be effective within their own political base.
     
    The debates that threaten to decouple these voters from the liberal political machine tend to involve questions of fairness, the best routes out of poverty, and how best to enable ordinary Americans to achieve the American Dream. These include policies that offer educational options to children in low-income families, require welfare recipients to work and act responsibly in exchange for benefits, and end discriminatory mandates that require employers and schools to prefer some racial groups over others.

    How about making “suspending democracy” and being ruled by “depoliticized commissions” a central campaign issue? Might that not make a few Democrats nervous?

    We need to use the vote to remove these people from any political power and purge them (yes, purge) from all administrative roles. If we fail in that endeavor, we will eventually have to remove them by other means.

     

    24 Responses to “So This Is How Democracy Dies”

    1. Peter Saint-Andre Says:

      Bruno, I think you’re right. The primary division in America today is not right vs. left but up vs. down (the elites vs. the people).

    2. ErisGuy Says:

      Kinsley gaffe, without a doubt.

      Depoliticized commissions, technocracy, is always run by the most corrupt using a mask of impartial research to hide their naked avarice.

      One state, one people, one party, one general secretary.

    3. sol Says:

      The problem with Socialism/Progressiveness is that it always leads to facism and Nazis (although they express their creativity by giving themselves nicer sounding names).

    4. The COB Says:

      This is definitely not a gaffe.

      The ruling class sees democratic institutions as a necessary evil in the same way libertarians see the national government as a necessary evil. The appearance of representative governance is important, but they’d prefer to do away with it.

      This post attempts to show the internal map of politics the ruling elite use to justify their anti-democratic leanings.

    5. Lexington Green Says:

      We started hearing this when Obama went below 50 on intrude.

      It it is a trial balloon, it seems to be successful for its proponents.

      It is remarkable that we have powerful and influential people openly proposing to destroy the most basic feature of the Constitution, democratic elections, and there is very little response to it.

      Tom Friedman, some time ago, was talking about how China is better off without those pesky elections.

      This seems to be a growing theme. It ties in with my suggestion that the world is not converging toward democratic capitalism, but toward corporatist fascism.

      Some elements inCodevilla’s Ruling Class apparently now wants to drop the pretense of democratic accountability and rule openly and ransack the country openly, like the post-Soviet nomenklatura and the Chinese Communist Party.

      The rise of the Tea Party is creating a crisis atmosphere for this class. A standard-issue GOP presidency and congress is basically the other side of the same coin, merely The Combine Lite. People who actually want to change the game could actually be a threat.

      We should be alert for a trumped up “Reichstag fire” event, possibly a purported right wing terrorist attack, to cause an orchestrated outcry for Mr. Obama to declare an emergency and “postpone” the election.

      As I have been saying all too frequently lately: I hope this is not what it seems.

    6. Daran Says:

      We are so lucky in the Netherlands that the political elite decided to ignore the ‘No’ vote on the EU referendum. Imagine how bad our situation would be if we didn’t have this blessed opportunity to share in the debts of the PIIGS countries.

    7. Michael Kennedy Says:

      Reagan used to talk about the difference between what people knew and what they knew that wasn’t true. I remember how the elites were convinced that oil prices would spike once price controls were removed. There were serious people who though there were oil takers over the horizon.

      In fact the oil market cratered. It almost destroyed the Houston economy. Government intervention is profoundly distorting and even those who should know better are fooled.

    8. Michael Kennedy Says:

      Who thought …oil tankers

    9. Robert Schwartz Says:

      “Die Lösung” (“The Solution”)by Bertolt Brecht:

      After the uprising of the 17th of June
      The Secretary of the Writers’ Union
      Had leaflets distributed in the Stalinallee
      Stating that the people
      Had forfeited the confidence of the government
      And could win it back only
      By redoubled efforts.
      Would it not be easier
      In that case for the government
      To dissolve the people
      And elect another?

    10. Brian Dunbar Says:

      “We need less Democracy”

      I am a peaceable guy. I don’t like fights. Don’t want to hurt nobody, nohow.

      But talk like this [1] makes me want to spend a lot more time at the range.

      I used to be able to put 10 of 10 in the bull at 500 meters.

      Bet I still could.

      [1] Guys blowing off steam at a bar, online are exceptions, of course. People in charge should be wary of the rest of us. We vote, and we’re armed.

    11. setbit Says:

      Surely, I thought, Bev Perdue must have been making some sort of a joke (albeit one in extremely poor taste). Any even moderately savvy politician knows the difference between a trial balloon and political suicide, and that comment would be, will be, campaign gold for her opponent in the next election.

      Well, here’s the actual audio. Does it sound like she’s joking?

    12. Jonathan Says:

      “The People 48%, the Reactionaries 52%”

    13. vikingTX Says:

      The possible plan B scenario is just as troubling. I am not convinced that the elitist thinkers in this administration are not beyond using civil unrest or agitated mobs to create a situation that calls for martial law and a suspension of the election process. I wouldn’t put it past them to try.

      The good news is that most military personnel and law enforcement officers understand their oath to preserve and protect the constitution rather than the officeholder. It would, however create a true constitutional crisis if the Military declines to enforce the edicts of an out of control Executive branch.

      Sinclair Lewis wrote It Can’t Happen Here in 1935 about a popular politician rising to power and creating a personal armed force mirroring events happening in Germany at the time. Hugo Chavez is a more recent example of the electoral process morphing into tyranny. We must be eternally vigilant.

    14. Lexington Green Says:

      They are not joking.

      They mean it.

      They are trying out the idea.

      So far they are not getting a ton of opposition.

      Bruno is right. This needs to be an issue. They need to see pushback, so they don’t try anything.

    15. Mark Says:

      The weakness of representative government is that it is possible to (indirectly) buy your way into office, and that corruption breeds at every level of it. Depoliticized commissions, whatever that means, would not solve either of these problems. There may well be something to the diagnosis, but the prescription is all wrong.

    16. Michael Hiteshew Says:

      Trial balloon. Preparing the public battle space for the coming “serious and considered” proposition by “intellectuals” and “scientists” that we do away with elections.

      This is clearly a discussion that’s being had at the highest levels of the DNC, since this is the second time in a week the idea has been tested. What they’re asking, “Can we get away with it?”

    17. Dan from Madison Says:

      This might sound stupid, but I am a guy that has a lot of stupid ideas. I honestly hope this never comes to pass and that there is no Reichstag fire moment here.

      but…

      …if elections are suspended I will most likely quickly organize a group to take up arms against the government. I couldn’t sleep at night knowing I was living under tyranny like that. I am still absolutely livid that legislation was enacted here in Wisconsin without my state senator present.

    18. Peter Saint-Andre Says:

      Minor but interesting side-note: comments are suspended at YouTube on the video of Bev Perdue’s speech.

    19. vikingTX Says:

      How do we light the fire under our Republican and Tea Party representatives to push back? If each (fair and balanced token Republican) talking head on the Sunday shows would bring this topic up and challenge the Administration to repudiate the concept of delaying elections, it would smother this idea immediately. C’mon Republicans, do your job.

    20. bobby b Says:

      Our society is, at this moment, being governed by unelected executive-branch administrative agencies, acting at Obama’s direction and in direct contravention of the expressed will of the legislative branch. The EPA gives us cap and trade, sweeps away our energy supplies and suppliers, punishes Obama’s enemies, and keeps its deliberations secret. The NLRB appoints unions as business directors, removes employers’ constitutional right to counsel, and enacts coerced public voting for unions. The DOJ no longer enforces laws that Obama dislikes, and enforces voting and election laws in a strictly partisan manner.

      Our foreign policy is being formulated by the President alone, without the Constitutionally-required affirmation by the legislative branch. We go to war in Libya at his behest; we seemingly go to war in Mexico at his behest; we attempt to abandon Israel, at his behest; we embrace Chavez and Zelaya, at his behest.

      Our free press no longer operates as an arm of the people, no longer sees its mission as empowering the people through discovery and dissemination of information; instead, it acts as the marketing agent for Obama, telling us lies and hiding the truth as it deems appropriate.

      Do away with that pesky democratic process? I submit we’re already there. Orszag and Perdue just made the mistake of talking about it.

    21. Nicholas Says:

      It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried.
      – Sir Winston Churchill

    22. pst314 Says:

      Nicholas: It should also be said that progressives are the best sorts of people…except for all the others.

    23. Chris Says:

      The simple fact is that political elites will always see the value of a political system in which they are beholden to no one and nothing. There’s even a good chain of logic they can use to justify it, particularly in the media driven 21st century “all those nasty voters who don’t get it are making us do stuff thats against their interests, so we need to get rid of them for a bit”

      Speaking as someone who has been a lobbyist (albeit a relatively benign one, most of the time) I’ll say for a fact that even in a more politically sane country like the UK (marginally more sane) the decisions are not being made to placate “the people”. There might be some window dressing on a bill which makes it more palatable, but the ones who get what they want are the companies with the best lobbyists.

      There’s a part of me that would be fascinated to be a lobbyist in the US, the amount you can get done in the UK, where the rules are so incredibly incredibly tight on lobbyist activity… I can’t even imagine what you could get done in the system the US has.

      A suspension of voting would be an open door policy (even more so than the one which already appears to exist) for the lobbying industry to get a whole host of things done which are currently nearly impossible.

    24. David Foster Says:

      Peter Drucker observed that “every government that is not a government of paper forms rapidly degenerates into a mutual looting society.” But the paper forms (and equally their electronic equivalents), and related procedures, necessarily make government cumbersome and a rather blunt instrument. Hence, the expansion of government into all aspects of human life leads to a demand to “make government more responsive” by giving more discretionary authority to administrators and to their political superiors. This, in turn, results in a government which is not only a looting society but a tyranny.