Sunday, February 25, 2007

The skeptics of democracy

Mr. David Geffen, Hollywood mogul and, currently, an Obama supporter, is concerned that Sen. Clinton might win the primaries. Mr. Geffen concludes:
I think that America was better served when the candidates were chosen in smoke-filled rooms.
Such scepticism of popular choice has a long history in American politics. Alexander Hamilton was the first leader of this group. His biographer, Ron Chernow, quotes Mr. Hamilton (p.233):
"Give all the power to the many and they will oppress the few. Give all the power to oppress the few, they will oppress the many." The system needed an impartial arbiter to transcend class warfare and regional interests, and here Hamilton [used] the word monarch: "This check is a monarch.... There ought to be a principle in government capable of resisting the popular current."
Conservatives, as represented by Hamilton's foe, Thomas Jefferson support democracy but not because it is perfect: they also share a scepticism of "popular currents." However, Jeffersonians have a much greater scepticism of any "monarch" or other authority which claims to "transcend" class or region. The Jeffersonian idea was wittily and famously expressed by Winston Churchill in 1947:
Many forms of Government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.
In the US, Democrats would like the president to take the role of transcendent "monarch" or, maybe more precisely, the role of ideal parent. The idea of the voters being children of the president, was explicitly addressed during a debate of presidential candidates in 1992, as recounted by Dr. Edwin Feulner:
During one of the 1992 presidential debates ... a young man with a ponytail stood up to ask a question of the candidates. He said, "We are your children, we have our needs. What will you do to take care of us-to take care of our needs?" All three candidates predictably fell all over themselves explaining what they would do for this young man.
Dr. Feulner continues by quoting a typical Jeffersonian reaction to this concept:
My friend and Heritage Foundation colleague Bill Bennett commented about this episode: "Wouldn't it have been refreshing," he said, "wouldn't it have been great if any one of them had said, 'Just a minute. Get a life. I'm not your father. This is America. This is a do-it-yourself society. I'm only running for the head of the government... satisfy your own needs. See a minister, see a priest, see your wife. Take care of yourself, man; get a hold of yourself."'

I believe that BDS (Bush Derangement Syndrome) can be explained by the fact that Pres. Bush, by going to war in Iraq, violates the Democratic concept of ideal parent. His presence in White House is as much an abomination to Democrats as, say, Andre Serrano's "Piss Christ" is to Christians.

In foreign policy, Democrats place the United Nations in the role of Ideal Parent, expecting it to be above class or region and provide the sound judgment that the world needs. Republicans, by contrast, see nothing ideal or parental about the UN: they see it, rather, as a group of thugs, thieves, and tyrants that may occasionally be useful but should never be respected.

MORE DETAIL: The "young man with a ponytail," mentioned by Dr. Feulner, spoke at the October 15th of 1992 presidential debate between Perot, Clinton and Bush 41 in Richmond, Virginia. His question was:
The focus of my work is domestic mediation, is meeting the needs of the children that I work with by way of their parents and not the wants of their parents, and I ask the three of you, how can we as symbolically the children of the future president expect the two of you, the three of you to meet our needs?

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