That pearl of wisdom, democracies don’t end well, came from none other than renowned political philosopher Rob Schneider. I came across this nugget in my twitter feed about two and a half years ago from a radio interview that Rob Schneider was doing to promote a stand up bit in Philly. I moved it into long term storage and only recently had time to go back and look at it; to remind myself why I was saving it in the first place. Long time readers of this blog may know that one of the first posts I did when starting this blog was a review of Rob Schneider’s then new TV show, ¡Rob! The review wasn’t exactly a kind one and the show lasted only 8 episodes before mercifully being put down. However the review I wrote lived on. For years, it showed up as my second most popular post (beaten only be the one I wrote on my first time with a male dental hygienist) and low carb frozen Lean Cuisine meals.
But getting back to Schneider’s observation; no, it’s by no means original. In fact in an earlier age (meaning virtually every other time period until the modern era) it was considered a truism. Other thinkers had expressed the same thought.
“A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal policy, which is always followed by a dictatorship.” –Alexander Fraser Tytler
Of course, this wasn’t merely an enlightenment sentiment. The ancients thought much the same thing.
“Dictatorship naturally arises out of democracy, and the most aggravated form of tyranny and slavery out of the most extreme liberty.” – Plato
The founding fathers were explicit in their disdain for democracy. They intended to create a Republic, not a democracy.
“Democracy is the most vile form of government. … 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.” -James Madison
“We are a Republic. Real Liberty is never found in despotism or in the extremes of Democracy.” -Alexander Hamilton
“A simple democracy is the devil’s own government.” –Benjamin Rush
Can you imagine a contemporary American political figure making such an observation in public? He would be outside the bounds of decent conversation.
That’s unfortunate because now seems like a good time to have a public conversation about it. I’ve never, in my life time, seen the Democrats in general and liberals in particular, reject the outcome of an election and plot to overturn it. Starting with the rubric of fake news, the Russians-did-it, Calexit, The attempted Electoral College coup, boycotting the inauguration and now CNN gives a step by step guide on how to assassinate Trump and keep Democrats in charge.
This is CNN.
If ever there was a news story that perfectly expressed the wish that the heart makes over at CNN, it’s this one; explaining how they could overturn the election and keep the Democrats in power for the next four…ah who am I kidding? To keep them in power forever. In fact, I was very nearly holding my breath until the inauguration was over, thinking that a CNN cap wearing assassin might try to do some damage.
We’re in uncharted territory here. Half the country, including its major institutions such as the media and academia, flat out rejects the results of the election. The last time Democrats rejected the results of a Presidential election we had a civil war. Although I don’t see one on the offing yet, the precedent being established here is a dangerous one.
For all of his flaws, Obama was not the guy to tap his scepter and decide to remain in power “for the good of the country.” But we’ve just raised a generation of snowflakes whose political identity has been inculcated in an environment in which every authority source in their world (the media. social media, and academia mostly) have spent the past two months telling them that the election was illegitimate and concocting schemes to try to subvert it.
So would the next Democratic President (and there will be one) give up power to a non-establishment Republican? Or establishment one for that matter? Would the country follow him, or reject him as an American Caesar, trying to overturn a Democratic government? There is every reason to think that our peaceful transfer of power days are coming to a close.
Well Mr. Franklin, and Mr. Schneider, we’ve had a Republic, and it looks like there is a possibility we won’t be keeping it after all.