Democracy — who benefits most?

Who benefits most from a democracy?

Hello and welcome to Reality Check.

Hi, I’m Mark Pellegrino and today I’m going to talk about Democracy.

When pretty much anybody talks about government in the free world today, one word rises above all others as the ideal system.

Yeah, you guessed it: democracy.

Also known as ‘rule by the people’.

And why shouldn’t this be so?

At first glance, rule by the people seems to be a literal embodiment of the enlightened conception of governments as the people’s
servants.

The very idea that those in government serve at the pleasure of a voting population seems to be the most obvious confirmation that, indeed, democracy is the king of political systems when it comes to protecting us against, well, political systems.

But there’s a catch.

Isn’t there always a catch?

The catch is: there’s technically no such thing as the people.

There’s only you and me.

Yeah.

The people are the millions of individuals who make up a geographical area we call a state, and each of these individuals are sovereign beings.

This means they have full dominion over their own lives, and a person who has full dominion over his or her own life cannot in point of moral principle be ruled by anyone.

That’s right.

You cannot be ruled.

Not by a king, a priest, a technocrat, a congress or a parliament, or even an abstract mass of folks we call the people.

Let’s face it, majorities don’t make right.

In fact, they often make wrong.

Now the founders knew this, which is why they conscientiously avoided the pitfalls of majority rule by dividing power between multiple elements of society and checking them against each other.

The one against the few and the many.

The few against the one and the many.

The many against the few and the one.

Each checking the interests and strengths of the other, and all bound by a contract strictly circumscribing their powers.

Now this deconcentration of power is called a representative republic.

It’s not perfect, but it’s the best means we’ve discovered so far to protect the rights of minorities. In particular, the smallest minority of all: you and me. Okay, so what’s the deal?

If we don’t live in a democracy but a republic why do politicians keep calling our republic a democracy?

If you want the answer, just ask yourself who benefits most from a democracy.

Let’s see, a republic is a deliberately unwieldy political machine.

It’s slow to move, everything within its purview is subjected to debate between competing interests, and much is not in its power.

Such a system forces the political class to take a back seat to rights.

That’s good for you and me, bad for the political class, whose role in society is severely restrained by contract and checks and balances.

Democracy on the other hand is impetuous.

Debates are led by the loudest voices in the room, and everything is subject to political action because majority will is the standard of good, not protection of rights.

The political class is in the driver’s seat because someone has to speak for this abstract thing we call the people, and all the political class need do is claim consensus or majorities for the right to move on anything against anyone.

Right is subject to anything the political class claims the majority wants.

This is bad for you and me, good for the political class who’s restrained only by what it can convince the people is in its best interest.

That’s why republics love statesmen and democracies love demagogues.

Statesmen are guided by political principles and are under a moral obligation to serve their constituents.

Demagogues are articulate people who can focus the feelings of majorities and exploit these feelings for political gain.

The more democratic we become, the more demagogues game the system for their own purposes.

Notice the precipitous slide in the political discourse from our founding to today and you’ll see that the erosion of reason and the promotion of feelings are the result of democratization.

So whenever you hear someone claim “we’re in a democracy,” tell them we aren’t, and we shouldn’t be, because rights can’t be compromised and reason can’t take a back seat to the majority if we hope to maintain what little Freedom we still have left.

Check.