Monday, October 24, 2011

Democracy: Not all it’s cracked up to be

In today’s Breakpoint Charles Colson, in discussing events in the Middle East, says this:

There’s no reason, as writer Rod Dreher reminds us, to assume that democracy and religious tolerance go hand-in-hand. On the contrary, recent history suggests that what the so-called “people” often want is to mistreat the “others” in their midst.

It is a very good point, and needs to be taken far beyond the context of the Middle East.  We need to bring this point back home, too.

Here in the good old USofA we have the almost demented tendency to think that, once something has been approved by a majority, it is prudent, wise, and even just.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

In fact, the real problem in the political world is not who rules, or the mechanisms by which that rule is carried out.  Rather, the real problem is to avoid tyranny and injustice.  A benevolent dictator could easily have a more just rule than many so-called democracies do today.

Of course, the problem is that you never know when a good dictator might go bad, or who might come to power when the good dictator dies.  But again, we experience most of the same uncertainties under situations where we vote.  That is why it is very hollow indeed for western politicians to run around heralding the establishment of “democracies” in the Middle East, or any where else for that matter.

It was for this reason that our Founders did not establish an unqualified democracy.  Part of the reason for the division of powers, and the intentional pitting of one power against another, was to insure that no one, including even supermajorities, could become tyrannous.

Most of the modifications that have been made to the Founders’ original system have had the effect of making tyranny easier to implement.  We live with the sadly successful results of that today.

No comments: