I hate campaigning, and yet, because of my concern for the future of this country, I find myself driven to knock on doors and bother people about whom they’re going to vote for. And so, I began to philosophize about our plight and why we must be enslaved to this permanent sisyphean task. The answer is found in the very devilish nature of democracy.
Year after year, the campaigning increases. People more and more hate politics and politicians – the daily phone calls, the mailbox clogging literature, the campaigners knocking on doors, and the begging for contributions in order to fund a barrage of political ads. And it is not merely national office holders that we must be persuaded to vote for, but state government, local government, school board, county board, judges (are you kidding me?), etc. No one can keep up, the brain shuts down, the soul checks out, and democracy has claimed another individual victim. I hate it, and yet I’m enslaved by my democratic/collectivist countrymen to do it. Those who vote for democracy are begging for more of what they hate, and sure enough, year after year, as they vote for progressivism, it gets progressively worse. What they have forgotten, or never learned, is that this is precisely what democracy eventually devolves into, an endless campaign and nonstop advertising.
When Benjamin Franklin was asked what kind of country was created at the first convention in Philadelphia he replied, “A republic, madam, if you can keep it.” It is deeply saddening to me to see that we have failed at this glorious endeavor. We have devolved from a republic into a democracy which is in the throws of collapsing into tyranny as the masses learn that they can vote themselves benefits which politicians sell to them every election cycle. This is tyranny of the masses. Whatever is popular becomes what is true. This leads to poll driven policy; poll driven news; campaigns based on strategic calculations and more polling; parsing out groups of people, determining which group needs which benefit measured against competing groups demanding competing benefits; electioneering without end, and campaigning without end. The individual becomes despondent and is swallowed by the overwhelming desires of the collective. This is what democracy is coming to look like in America -and you voted for it. Our founders understood all of this and recognized democracy as being just as destructive (though more deceitful because it feigns liberty) as the monarchy that they had just overcome. And so they gave us a republic, but America didn’t keep it. America didn’t understand it.
Our country was founded in such a way that whomever was elected was to be of little consequence because they would all be, as Jefferson put it, bound by the chains of the Constitution. The gifts that were given us by our creator were life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The country was not founded to grant us happiness but merely the freedom to pursue it. Whether you find happiness or not, is not the concern of the country, the village, the collective or the community; it is your concern and those closest to you, who actually possess the ability to be concerned about you. The grateful American should thank God that such a country was founded that allows such individualistic concerns. But democracy, and the tyranny that follows in its wake, does not care about you, the individual; is not grateful, and merely demands more. The country or collective that claims to care about you is a deceitful imposter that aims to steal from you these most precious gifts.
It is quite revealing that one of the two major political parties in this country is named after this historical ideological failure. The ignorance of its failure is so imbedded that “democracy” is trumpeted as a laudable thing, and routinely mashed together as being one in the same as a “republic”. And the Republicans, rather than distinguishing themselves from this failed ideology, follow at the heels of the Democrats and attempt the same populist appeals (albeit to a lessor and less effective extent).
Democracy is failing in America as it has failed everywhere else. We are very near the tipping point where more people are in the wagon demanding to be pulled by the others outside the wagon. It is at this point where democracy begins its increasingly rapid descent into tyranny. It’s only been the crumbling bedrock of the original constitutional republic that has kept it from imploding in on itself, but it is collapsing slowly nonetheless.
Along with the individual, another casualty of democracy is the truly good politician; one who cares about returning liberty back to the people whilst limiting his own power and influence over their lives. Because the voters are so taxed by the endless campaign; the inevitable list of unfulfilled promises (because even the utopian democratic dream cannot overcome reality); and taxes themselves, the good politician is always lumped in with the other salesmen selling promises and reaping benefits for themselves. I had a couple of these maddening conversations with such voters on my last campaign walk for congressman Joe Walsh (one of the good guys). It is quite the battle trying to convince these jaded voters that the very reason I am out here walking is because Joe is not like the other politicians that they hate. They simply cannot believe it, and because democracy has taxed their capacity so much, they have become incapable of making distinctions and are left with painting all politicians with the broadest of brushes.
So America, the next time you complain about negative ads and course tones and too much of everything political and politicians in general, remember, you voted for democracy and now you got it, in mass, and more is coming.
Mordecai, in “High Plains Drifter” asked him, “…what do we do then?” and Eastwood, the drifter, looking slightly mystified, answers, “Well then you live with it”.
Here is the improbable dream: if we could only fill the government with such politicians who believed in self-governance: the promises would end; the politicians would have little to do; the government would shrink; the Constitution would be king; the republic would thrive; the taxes would be minimal; the phone calls would stop, and finally, hallelujah! the endless campaign would cease.
I was further inspired to write this piece after reading this column in Forbes magazine by Edward H. Crane who iterates the same opinion and bemoans the endless campaign.
Go to Bed Early on Election Night by be Edward H. Crane