"THE PROJECT OF DEMOCRACY"
The constitutional republic, to which our founding fathers gave birth, was democratic. Yes, but subtly so. Only the members of the House of Representatives were directly elected by the people and, even then, the electors were literate property owners and taxpayers. They were typically the landed gentry, men who had a vested interest in the system. They were long-term, law-abiding residents of their respective communities, and were knit tightly together by a common anglo-protestant culture.
The republic, since its founding, has yielded to democratic pressures that our patriarchs never envisioned. Senators, for example, are now elected directly by the people. There have been calls from notables, like Hillary Clinton, for the direct election of the President. In addition, suffrage requirements have been not so much relaxed as altogether abandoned. The poll tax was outlawed. Literacy tests, no matter how well meaning, came to be viewed as instruments of discrimination. Property-ownership and taxpaying requirements went by the board. Residency requirements were reduced to a few weeks. The age of political maturity was lowered. The administrative procedures to vote, for those too lazy or stupid to register, were lessened. Even convicted felons and noncitizens are enfranchised in various localities throughout the country. So much for the "purity of the ballot box." Liberalism's emphasis upon "universal suffrage" has become a moral end in itself. The words are a holy incantation of political correctness.
As the matter now stands, an alien and all of his children can steal their way across the porous United States borders and light, for example, in New York. The law mandates that these children be given the benefit of a public school education. This fact in turn provides the alien with a vested interest in the system, right? So the city must, in spite of the fact that he is illegal, give him the right to vote in elections involving school issues. That he does not understand a word of English is irrelevant, because the city is also mandated to give him his ballot in Spanish, Chinese, or you name it. Democracy at work! Three cheers!
This resounding tribute to democracy is, I must emphasize, not a logical extension of the founders' thought or work. Did not Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts, one of the most influential of the founders, describe democracy as "the worst . . . of all political evils"? When he made the statement, he may have had in mind a picture of decadence like the one above.
One would never realize our founders' antipathy toward democracy by looking at the record of the Supreme Court. It has poked its protuberant nose into the middle of local political processes and indignantly declared, "Wait just one minute! You have gerrymandered districts so that the voting power of a particular minority has been diluted." The local response is, "We have not discriminated, and you cannot prove that we intended to do so." The reply is almost incredible: "We know that you are guilty of invidious discrimination, because no member of this poor minority has ever been elected to office. You must change this! It's supposed to be 'one person, one vote.'" The ghosts of Earl Warren and William O. Douglas, two of the liberal architects of the krytocracy the Court has become, continue to hover over us all. Someone has stated that deities don't die, but the truth is that neither do devils.
It evokes gales of laughter in me to hear cowardly politicians, Icabods of the news trade, and Harvard intellectuals reminding a serious audience that the Court is not involved in politics or political theory. Contrary to popular belief, Supreme Court justices are little more than political power brokers. They routinely attempt to pass off one political decision and opinion after another as "jurisprudence." What else could it mean when one one speaks of extending "the project of democracy — to use Alexander Keyssar's words in The Right to Vote:The Contested History of Democracy in the United States – since that is a political undertaking from beginning to end? If the Court is not concerned with politics, then why should it be determined to push a political project, especially one that our own Constitution never sanctioned?
We have been brain-washed in this country. Democracy was never supposed to be the point of American politics. But ask any ten citizens what kind of political system we have in America and, if they understand the question, at least nine of them will respond, "A democracy."
Democracy is what we have now. But it is not what the founding fathers created. Democracy is rule by the rabble. The rabble has always been a leveler of excellence. If you like graffiti with a beat (otherwise known as "rap music"), grotesque and vulgar tattoos, amoral Hollywood personalities, mindless sports figures, numbing television programming like "Dancing with the Stars" and "American Idol," Gay Pride Day, and a political mentality dictating that every nincompoop who graduates with a high school diploma deserves the opportunity to be university trained at taxpayers' expense, then democracy is for you. Yet, as our founders realized, the history of democracy demonstrates an inclination for citizens to turn their backs on reason and to descend to the lowest common denominator of morality and taste, since "no person's interests and needs are more important than those of anyone else . . . ."
But, hey, wait a second; let's think about this. Should an Eminem's interests and needs command the same attention and respect as a Bach's. Should we place Gerry Springer and Frank Lloyd Wright on the same dais? Does Madonna deserve the acclaim of a Beverly Sills? What do you think the founders would say?
The struggle is no longer Republican versus Democrat. That's tweedle-dee versus tweedle-dum. Both political parties are morally and intellectually bankrupt. No, the struggle is between democratic decadence and the death of the human spirit on the one hand and a constitutional republic anchored in a brilliantly unifying culture on the other. Which side will prevail? That depends upon the American people.
April 18, 2009