The events of last night – do they indicate the death of the great American Democratic experiment? Or does it mean that a certain portion of the American people, so long neglected and mocked, finally took their revenge, and that is Democracy is actually supposed to work? A little of both, I suppose.
Should we go into mourning? Is this really the death of Democracy?
No. In fact this surprise, predicted by almost no one, shows that Democracy is indeed “working” as well as it can be expected to – and that’s nothing to get particularly excited about.
The other possible outcome from last night would have been equally as dismal (honestly, this article would nearly be the same had the opposite result occurred) simply because Democracy didn’t just suddenly die on November 9th, 2016 – it has been dying throughout the year and a half of this business.
If you want to hop on the boat sailing on the rivers of leftist tears, you might insist that the system was ‘rigged’ for Trump (when it wasn’t just a week ago, when Clinton led in the polls?) or that the ‘system isn’t working’ because of this result. I can see very clearly, however, if Clinton had got the 270 requisite electoral college votes, but Trump had won in the popular vote, leftists would suddenly insist that the system is working properly and that we ought to accept the results, without hesitation.
Thus, democracy has become reactionary, and not based on any discernible principles. To me, this means that it is as good as dead.
Not only would democracy have “died” with either result, but there could only be one thing that brought on this death: democracy itself.
The purpose of a government is to protect, and punish infringements upon, our naturally held rights: life, liberty, and property.
The government, in order to accomplish this goal, can take any form. A democracy, a republic, even oligarchies or monarchies, if those who govern are honest, can fulfill this goal.
The founders long ago decided that the governed ought to have a hand in their own governance, but not completely so. They designed a system which was accountable to the people, but did have insulation between the presidency and the whims of the majority (as well as the senate also; Senators were originally chosen by State Legislatures.) Thus they understood the flaws in both a government directly accountable to the people, and one not accountable to the people at all.
The people of the revolutionary generation were capable of self government; they were willing to stake their lives, fortunes, and reputations in defense of an idea they believed in. By extension, they would elect men to their system that also would do so.
These days? Well, that is not easily seen.
Let’s look at an example: the elected senator from Oklahoma, the orange haired one reaffirmed last night, continually tells us of the virtues of fiscal conservatism. But in Washington, he votes for spending increases which contradict these ideals he espouses, in the interest of keeping the government operational. Remember, how much of our population relies on government employment – a temporary loss of that would reflect very poorly on the good Senator. Therefore, the senator votes in the interest of keeping his job (as they all do) instead of any discernible principles or ideals.
We don’t elect Statesmen, we elect men who are good at public relations and who only concern themselves with keeping their jobs. As a voting public, as a people, are we any different?
For example, we base our opinion on the “system” based on the results. We really have no discernible ideals, but rather our opinions are entirely reactionary and emotional.
Changes and progress happen only out of political necessity; Hillary Clinton did not change her stance on gay marriage because it was the right thing to do, but rather, her position was always based on the political necessities of the moment.
When political victories do not mean a triumph of ideals, the perpetuation of freedom, but rather the continued protection of certain interests, we can say that Democracy has failed.
But it is disingenuous (and a tad bit over dramatic) to claim that it is failed because we don’t like the result.
Something else: we place, and continue to place, entirely too much importance on the presidency. People seem to think that, because of Trump’s victory, they will be personally (and negatively) impacted. I’m still not sure how serious that is, but it does indicate one thing: the powers of the government are too much, and the power of the presidency is too much.
Is this going to be what it takes to show the appeal of limited, restricted, government?