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Removing Tyranny from Democracy (Part II), was Democracy is thetrue enemy...
Many, beginning with de Toquivelle, have noted that democracy brings with
it the unhappy possibility of a tyranny of the majority. The reasons for
this shortcoming are closely tied to the decision of whom within the
democracy receives the franchise and how in a representative democracy
officeholders are elected.
Our elections are corrupted by bribery - not the big money paid to
candidates by corporate donors, but the taxpayers' money offered to voters
by the candidates themselves.
For some reason, campaign finance reform always centers on private money,
as if it were perfectly OK to use public money to buy elections. Yet
critics of democracy, including friendly critics, have always pointed out
that the Achilles' heel of democracy is its tendency to turn the ballot box
into an instrument of plunder, as voters learn to vote for those who
promise them other people's money.
One of the justifications for democracy is that everyone's interest should
be represented in government. But there are interests and interests. The
homeowner who locks his door is looking out for his own interest just as
much as the burglar who picks the lock, but not exactly in the same way.
The voter who wants to keep his own money isn't seeking the same thing as
the voter who wants the state to give him someone else's money.
The darkest warnings of democracy's critics are being furfilled, precisely
because of entitlement programs that already exist, which are driving the
federal government into an abyss of debt. Touching the big entitlement
programs - the ones available to the middle class - is "political suicide."
The president exploits this fact when he plays chicken with Republicans who
want to reform those programs. All of which shows that we really know that
democracy's critics were right. Too many voters are already bought - not by
corporate campaign donors, but by the government itself. Worst of all, we
accept this as normal, healthy politics even as it threatens to ruin us.
Curbing private spending is a superficial reform that may even backfire
eliminating the equalizing power of private money thereby increasing the
advantages of incumbency. The only reform that could really help would be
to curb the buying of votes with government money. That means following the
counsel of the philosopher John Stuart Mill, and limiting the franchise to
taxpayers who don't get income from the government.
This means that if you receive money from the federal (or state, or local)
government, you shouldn't be allowed to vote in the next federal (or state,
or local) election. This is no more an insult to the voter than dismissal
cause is an insult to a prospective juror. It's a precaution in the
interest protecting the integrity of the electoral process - and a
precaution we should have taken long ago, before fiscal responsibility
became "political suicide."