Is Democracy in a Death Spiral?
Is Democracy in a Death Spiral? By Patrick J. Buchanan – Lew Rockwell
“You all start with the premise that democracy is some good. I don’t think it’s worth a damn. Churchill is right. The only thing to be said for democracy is that there is nothing else that’s any better. …
“People say, ‘If the Congress were more representative of the people it would be better.’ I say Congress is too damn representative. It’s just as stupid as the people are, just as uneducated, just as dumb, just as selfish.”
This dismissal of democracy, cited by historian H. W. Brands in “The General vs. the President: MacArthur and Truman at the Brink of Nuclear War,” is attributed to that great populist Secretary of State Dean Acheson.
Few would air such views today, as democracy has been divinized.
Indeed, for allegedly hacking the Clinton campaign and attacking “our democracy,” Vladimir Putin has been condemned to the ninth circle of hell. Dick Cheney and John McCain have equated Moscow’s mucking around in our sacred democratic rituals to an “act of war.”
Yet democracy seems everywhere to be losing its luster.
Among its idealized features is the New England town meeting. There, citizens argued, debated, decided questions of common concern.
Town hall meetings today recall a time when folks came out to mock miscreants locked in stocks in the village square. Congressmen returning to their districts in Holy Week were shouted down as a spectator sport. A Trump rally in Berkeley was busted up by a mob. The university there has now canceled an appearance by Ann Coulter.
Charles Murray, whose books challenge conventional wisdom about the equality of civilizations, and Heather Mac Donald, who has documented the case that hostility to cops is rooted in statistical ignorance, have both had their speeches violently disrupted on elite campuses.
In Washington, our two-party system is in gridlock. Comity and collegiality are vanishing. Across Europe, centrist parties shrink as splinter parties arise and “illiberal democracies” take power.