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David Harsanyi: US Has Too Much Democracy

By Bill Hoffmann   |   Monday, 10 Mar 2014 03:26 PM

A misunderstanding of democracy is to blame for the legislative gridlock on Capitol Hill, says David Harsanyi, author of the new book "The People Have Spoken (and They Are Wrong): The Case Against Democracy."

"Gridlock is an organic reaction to what went on when the left took over and pushed through a lot of things that were unprecedented in America, left-wing policies, especially in healthcare," Harsanyi told "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Newsmax TV.

"Then you had a reaction, you had a right-wing Congress, a pretty conservative Congress that doesn't want to do those things," he said Monday.

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But Americans shouldn't be upset at the tumultuous political landscape in Washington, said Harsanyi, who is senior editor of The Federalist.

"This is the most underrated Congress ever ... I think 96 percent of Americans think that it's not doing its job. They are doing their job. You don't have to get things done all the time to be productive,'' he said.

"Everyone thinks that government always has to be active for our communities to work, and it's just not the case ... Gridlock is a good thing, it's a natural thing, and it's helped this country, not hurt it."

In his new book, published by Regnery, Harsanyi argues that democracy has made our government irrational, irresponsible, and invasive, and left Americans with only two options — domination by the majority, or a government that can't possibly work.

"People have the wrong idea about democracy because they assume that it means freedom and liberty as well, which, as we've seen in Egypt and the Gaza Strip and in Russia, that's not always the case," he said.

"Democracy is just a reflection of our morals and the things that we believe. People are sort of confused."

In fact, democracy has the potential to hurt the nation, Harsanyi argues.

"The federal government has gotten more powerful, and the more centralized it becomes, the more we in essence have a direct democracy because who we elect in Washington is all that matters," he said.

"We've lost sight of local control and of our own communities. Obamacare, for instance, is a perfect example of how we coerced everyone to participate in something that might not be right for everyone.

"There'll be more of that, and we see with religious liberty issues as well, where we force people to accept our norms of the majority, so that sort of problem will continue to erupt in American politics as we move forward, and it's because of democracy."

In fact, the Founding Fathers left the word "democracy" out of the Constitution on purpose, Harsanyi said.

"It's nowhere in the Constitution, and there's a good reason for that," he said.

"Some of them were more nervous about it than others, and far be it for me to challenge them in any way, but they maybe even should have gone a little bit further in how often they put it down.

"Clearly they set up the government as it is with all our branches and all sorts of stopgaps to democracy to undermine any kind of direct control we have over each other in large groups."

He said President Barack Obama is "using democracy as his excuse to get around the process of democracy."

"After Newtown, he was talking about gun rights. He said, 'listen, 90 percent of people support me, that's why I'm signing this executive order,'" Harsanyi said.

"So, it's pretty terrible ... I'm not comparing him to Stalin or anything like that — but that is the excuse of dictators throughout time, that they're just doing what has to be done for the people, that it's too important to be left to the process."

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