Just before the passing of beloved QEII, President Biden got himself roundly criticized, especially by right-of-center commentators (like me), for his recent speech accusing “MAGA” Republicans of being semi-fascist.
That speech was extolled by the elite media, such as the New York Times, wherein Peter Baker and Blake Hounshell wrote: “In a remarkable consensus, a new Quinnipiac University poll found that 69 percent of Democrats and 69 percent of Republicans say that democracy is ‘in danger of collapse.’”
Extolled, that is, until the backlash, exemplified by The Washington Post’s Henry Olson’s, Biden’s MAGA speech was designed to protect Democrats, not democracy.
But wait! How can something that never existed collapse?
Nowhere in the Declaration of Independence or the U.S. Constitution does the word “democracy” occur. The Constitution’s Article IV section 4 demonstrates that the U.S. was designed to be a republic. Not a democracy.
The fabric of our classical liberal republicanism is fraying. Still, that was the political cultural hegemony created by America’s founders. Still holds.
Constitutional Convention delegate Ben Franklin said to a lady who approached him departing the convention, in response to her question as to what form of government the delegates had constituted, a republic or a monarchy, “A republic replied the Doctor if you can keep it.” Can we?
“Democracy” implies that the will of the majority should prevail. A republic is founded on the protection of inalienable rights and governance by the best judgment of our officials.
Now, a new school of philosophical opposition to democracy appears, leaning toward monarchy. Trump confidante Peter Thiel, and poet/blogger/neopostneoreactionary/benevolent-despotism-proponent Curtis Yarvin, reportedly a Thiel confidante (and much more), exemplify this line of thought.
Thiel (whose biography is aptly titled “The Contrarian”) wrote in a 2009 essay, The Education of a Libertarian: “I no longer believe that freedom and democracy are compatible. By tracing out the development of my thinking, I hope to frame some of the challenges faced by all classical liberals today.”
Before clutching our pearls and retiring to the fainting couch, note that many anti-democrats of the right do not deserve to be slurred as “semi-fascists.” To the contrary.
The prime concern among leading thinkers was, and is, that democracy — direct popular rule — would inevitably lead to tyranny (of which fascism is but one flavor).
In 800 A.D. Alcuin of York wrote to the Emperor Charlemagne, “And those people should not be listened to who keep saying the voice of the people is the voice of God, since the riotousness of the crowd is always close to insanity.”
And consider Edmund Burke’s argument for republicanism in his statement to the electors of Bristol: “Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgment; and he betrays, instead of serving you, if he sacrifices it to your opinion.”
Do ponder what James Madison, the chief architect of the Constitution, had to say in Federalist #10: “Hence it is that such democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths.”
Fast forward. H.L. Mencken, whose birthday we celebrate this week, one of the most revered social commentators in modern history, conducted a long guerrilla campaign against democracy. In “Liberty and Democracy” in the Baltimore Evening Sun (13 April 1925) Mencken directly anticipates Thiel’s Cato Unbound essay: “Liberty and democracy are eternal enemies. ...”
Mencken was unflinching in his anti-democratic crusade over many decades. From “Notes on Democracy” (1926): “I enjoy democracy immensely. It is incomparably idiotic, and hence incomparably amusing. Does it exalt dunderheads, cowards, trimmers, frauds, cads? Then the pain of seeing them go up is balanced and obliterated by the joy of seeing them come down. … Is rascality at the very heart of it? Well, we have borne that rascality since 1776, and continue to survive.”
What’s really going on?
The Progressives have insidiously redefined democracy to mean anything that pushes policy to the left. This is not its definition in any known dictionary.
There they go again!
Beneath the left’s pious rhetoric, we discover its chronic ruthless use of the least “democratic” state institutions, the judiciary and the administrative state, to advance their anti-democratic agenda.
Thus, both the deep right and the hard left are together in opposing democracy. Together, but not united.
The left opposes democracy to extinguish, the right to exalt, liberty.
Neo-Hobbesian exaltation of authority to protect liberty? I’m dubious about the outlier “deep right” romantic embrace of the Leviathan.
That said, contra “#DarkBrandon” Biden, some MAGA-adjacent Republicans intend themselves to be on the front line in fighting fascism, confronting “the challenges faced by all classical liberals today.”
And God save the King!
Ralph Benko, co-author of "The Capitalist Manifesto" and chairman and co-founder of "The Capitalist League," is the founder of The Prosperity Caucus and is an original Kemp-era member of the Supply-Side revolution that propelled the Dow from 814 to its current heights and world GDP from $11T to $94T. Read Ralph Benko's reports — More Here.
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