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View Diary: Dr. Greg Brannon says democracy is 'socialism,' possibly because he is really, really dumb (237 comments)

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  •  This is a not-uncommon conservative sentiment.... (11+ / 0-)

    ...even if it's impolitic to utter about one of the more positively-loaded ideograms in our political discourse.

    Democracy is often portrayed by conservative authors as "mob rule" in which the whims of the unwashed majority overrule the rights of the elite minority—and linked to socialism when, as they would put it, the majority votes themselves more and more benefits out of the treasury and forces increasing taxation on the wealthy.

    In many conservative sources, "democracy" is linked to the French Revolution and its abuses, while "republic" is linked to the American Revolution with its relative maintenance of social hierarchies. Give the rabble too much power, they think, and they'll run roughshod over the property rights of wealthy people.

    Take this passage from prominent Christian Right historians Peter Marshall and David Manuel:

    "In recent times it has become commonplace to hear America referred to as a democracy. We are not a democracy—or government by the majority—we are a republic. America's system of government is based not on the whims and passions of men [sic], unchecked by law, but on constitutional laws that protect the rights of individuals and minorities.

    The Founding Fathers were clear-eyed about the dangers of 'mobocracy,' as they called it."

    Marshall, Peter, and David Manuel. God's Plan for America: The Light and the Glory, 1492-1793. Grand Rapids, MI: Revell, 2009, pg 436

    This view is, of course, based on a severe mischaracterization of democracy, as political theorists have always held that a healthy democratic government must also respect the human and civil rights of individuals, even to the point of placing some or all of the legal protections for those rights outside the reach of the legislative process.

    Even the most ardent small-d democrats around here would never argue that literally everything should be up to the will of the majority. I think all of us here would agree that legal protections for basic human and civil rights like voting, equal protection before the law, freedom of speech and thought, etc. are and should be in a special category in our laws where they either cannot be revoked or constricted at all, or require a great deal of political capital, time, and energy to revoke or constrict.

    "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

    by JamesGG on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 02:49:18 PM PDT

    •  "People will just vote themselves free stuff!" (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JamesGG

      Conservatism of all sorts holds that some kind of ruling class intellectually and/or morally superior has to exist to hold the line against the animalistic feeding frenzy and plunge into degeneracy, both fueled by a wholly self-centered mentality.

      This view is, of course, based on a severe mischaracterization of democracy, as political theorists have always held that a healthy democratic government must also respect the human and civil rights of individuals, even to the point of placing some or all of the legal protections for those rights outside the reach of the legislative process.
      The problem is that precisely this kind of "X is good ... except all these times it's not, which coincidentally are all the times it harms us in some way" qualification is what conservatives think discredits the idea that "X is good".  The only principles they recognize are those that are held to be universally valid (for all peoples in all places and at all times) - because they emanate from "nature and nature's God" - and would not require any qualification to excuse failure, only more comprehensive implementation to eliminate it.  Hence "conservatism cannot fail; it can only be failed".

      Domestic politics is the continuation of civil war by other means.

      by Visceral on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 03:55:44 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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