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Wednesday, November 10, 2004

This is a Republic, Not a Democracy
For those who aren't aware of the difference:

A republic is a government in which a restricted group of citizens form a political unit, usually under the auspice of a charter, which directs them to elect representatives who will govern the state. Republics, by their very nature, tend to be free polities, not because they are elected by the citizens of the polity, but because they are bound by charters, which limit the responsibilities and powers of the state. The fact that people vote for representatives has nothing to do with making anything free. The logical consistency and rationality of the charter, as well as the willingness of the people to live by it, is what keeps people free.

A democracy is government by the majority. There is still a restricted group of citizens in a democracy, but this group rules directly and personally runs the state. The group may delegate specific tasks to individuals, such as generalships and governorships, but there is no question that the ruling force in a democracy is not a charter (if there even is a charter), but the vote of the majority. Democracies are free only if the people know what freedom is and are consistent in their application of it. If they don't know this, or more appropriately, if a majority of the people don't know this, then a democracy could be just as tyrannical as the worst dictator (see Socrates' forced suicide by the Athenian democracy.)

Bearing in mind that we are a republic, not a democracy, there is an implied obligation that the representatives of the republic somehow act according to the will of the people. But which people?

Lonewacko directly or indirectly links to several articles on this topic, beginning with this one from Slate:

...The election results reflect the decision of the right wing to cultivate and exploit ignorance in the citizenry. I suppose the good news is that 55 million Americans have evaded the ignorance-inducing machine. But 58 million have not....

Ignorance and bloodlust have a long tradition in the United States, especially in the red states. There used to be a kind of hand-to-hand fight on the frontier called a "knock-down-drag-out," where any kind of gouging, biting, or maiming was considered fair. The ancestors of today's red-state voters used to stand around cheering and betting on these fights....The error that progressives have consistently committed over the years is to underestimate the vitality of ignorance in America. Listen to what the red state citizens say about themselves, the songs they write, and the sermons they flock to. They know who they are—they are full of original sin and they have a taste for violence. The blue state citizens make the Rousseauvian mistake of thinking humans are essentially good, and so they never realize when they are about to be slugged from behind....

The reason the Democrats have lost five of the last seven presidential elections is simple: A generation ago, the big capitalists, who have no morals, as we know, decided to make use of the religious right in their class war against the middle class....Lots of Americans like and admire them because lots of Americans, even those who don't share those same qualities, don't know which end is up. Can the Democrats appeal to such voters? Do they want to? The Republicans have sold their souls for power. Must everyone?...

Well, the National Review weighed in, citing Proposition 200 in Arizona:

Slate recently featured an article on the "unteachable ignorance" of the Bush red states, in light of the dismaying (from its perspective) election results. On immigration, we should talk about the "unteachable ignorance" of America's political and media elites. Nothing will convince them to take the issue seriously.

The latest sign that the public wants the kind of immigration enforcement that politicians simply won't give them comes out of Arizona. Proposition 200, a measure to tighten up enforcement of existing laws relating to illegal immigration, passed with 56 percent of the vote. It requires that someone provide proof of citizenship when registering to vote and valid ID when voting or applying for public benefits. Since it is already against the law for illegals to register and vote, and illegal for them to receive welfare, it is astonishing that Proposition 200 became — as the media always puts it — "controversial."

What Proposition 200 exposed is this: Our elites have very little intention of enforcing immigration-related laws, and they are outraged at the notion that they should. All the great and good in Arizona lined up against the proposition. Democratic Gov. Janet Napolitano, Republican Sen. John McCain, the Service Employees International Union, the Catholic bishops and the Chamber of Commerce all opposed it.

They were universally outraged at an initiative aimed at getting the public officials among them to do their jobs. "We haven't changed any law," says state Rep. Russell Pearce, a supporter of Proposition 200. "We're changing the verification process to make sure that the current laws are enforced."...

Proposition 200 backer Rusty Childress recalls that within an hour of publicly announcing the initiative, opponents held a rival press conference denouncing it as — what else? — racist. "All they can do is name-call on this issue," says Childress, "because we are on the right side of the law." And the racist argument didn't wash. Childress explains: "Most people said: 'Showing ID? That's not racist. I show ID all the time.'" According to exit polls, 47 percent of Hispanics voted for the initiative....

That populist sentiment is very real, and elites ignore it at their peril. President Bush recently said that he wants to spend political capital in his second term. If he tries to spend much of it on his misbegotten proposal for a quasi-amnesty for illegal aliens, he will risk political calamity. The message from Arizona — and elsewhere on Election Day, when immigration-skeptics picked up strength — is to try increased enforcement first. Who knows? Once we begin to enforce the law, we might even learn to like it.

Another article on the same topic:

[S]ome activists in Arizona pushed through a successful ballot initiative requiring the state to clamp down on illegals – and it could prove to be the first shot in a nationwide grass-roots movement to reclaim American sovereignty and stave off this quiet invasion.

Proposition 200 was, predictably, opposed by the entire Arizona political establishment, yet it was approved overwhelmingly by the people – 56 percent to 44. It tightens state laws to keep illegal aliens from voting and getting welfare and other government assistance....

We're supposed to live in a society governed by the rule of law and the will of the people. Yet, on this issue of immigration, the rule of law is ignored along with the immigration legislation already on the books. The will of the people is also ignored even more flagrantly.

What we need is a political brushfire to sweep across this land like the one set in Arizona. It will take nothing short of that to wake up the political establishment in both parties on this issue – and others like it – where the rule of law and the will of the people are being ignored....

Watch for the Arizona proposition to be challenged by the courts. This is the way the political establishment subverts the rule of law and the will of the people. Know that any judge who puts himself above the law and above the will of the people is nothing more than a tyrant – the kind of tyrant we as a people put behind us in 1776....

Now, on a separate topic, here's a Southern California story:

Steve Rocco didn't file a candidate statement or mount a campaign for the school board. He's unknown to teachers and the district and only barely known to his neighbors.

Nonetheless, the man being called a "mystery candidate" easily beat an opponent who is active and relatively well known in the Orange Unified School District....

What might have helped him this time around was that he identified himself as a educator/writer on the ballot, though he offered no proof of those occupations.

"Not knowing anything more, most people voted for the educator/writer over the park ranger," said John Hanna, an attorney who ran successfully against an equally elusive Mr. Rocco two years ago for a seat on a local community college district....

He will be one of seven board members in charge of setting policy for a district that has a budget of $230 million and serves nearly 32,000 students at 42 schools in Orange and surrounding cities.

The teachers' union endorsed Mr. Rocco's opponent, Phil Martinez, a park ranger who has three children in the district, is president of the PTA at his kids' school and is active with the Boy Scouts.

Still, Mr. Rocco, who has no children and whose job is uncertain, won with nearly 54 percent of the vote.

Callers to the John and Ken radio show offered another explanation - incumbent Martinez was part of the group that endorsed Measure A, a bond measure, despite the fact that it had already been defeated a few months earlier. Emphasis mine.

Orange Unified voters on Tuesday narrowly rejected a $196 million bond measure to fix and expand schools, just eight months after they rebuffed a similar attempt.

The school board hoped to capitalize on a larger and younger voter turnout for the presidential election to support Measure A, which members pared down by $4 million. A $200 million March bond garnered 48.9 percent of the votes, but needed 55 percent.

Tuesday’s vote was closer, with the bond measure pulling in 54.2 percent of the vote.

Orange Unified’s March measure was the only bond to fail in Orange County since 2000, when the passing threshold was lowered from two-thirds to 55 percent....

“I’m not sure that the people understood that this is where the money needs to come from to make improvements in the schools. Without this, it’s not going to happen,” said parent Patty Jordan.

The bond would have cost property owners $36.45 per $100,000 assessed valuation annually for 31 years.

So, in summary:

  • The United States is stupid ("cultivate and exploit ignorance in the citizenry") because it listened to 58 million people who voted for Bush.

  • Arizona is stupid ("opponents held a rival press conference denouncing [Proposition 200] as...racist") because it listened to the people who voted for Proposition 200.

  • The OUSD voters are stupid ("I’m not sure that the people understood...") because they voted out an incumbent who supported higher property taxes.

So is it the duty of the government to resist the rabble, or to execute the will of the people? Jerry Brown used two paddles for the Proposition 13 issue:

Next stop...was a call to someone who's been following Brown for 20 years, Sacramento Bee political columnist, Dan Walters. Walters offered the following as the perfect Jerry Brown anecdote. At first, Brown opposed Proposition 13, the 1978 property tax-limitation initiative that has contributed a lot to California's current fiscal crisis. But when it passed, Jerry declared himself a "born-again tax cutter." Localities, stripped of $7 billion in revenue almost overnight, hacked away at services. When the legislature passed an emergency $30 million appropriation to keep some local libraries open, the born-again Brown vetoed it. Days later, however, Jerry quietly allowed a $30 million tax break for the horse racing industry to become law. Millions for bookies, nothing for books, as Walters put it.

This is a republic...where the majority rules with respect to the minority. Quit crying about how the "stupid" won the election. Maybe what the democrats have lost sight of is that a "majority" of Americans...58 mill to 55 mill...are so against the "morally baseless, fiscally unsound, take my money and give it to someone else, allow illegal imigrants to overwhelm public services" policies of the democrats, that they will vote for ANYONE, other than a democrat.

So quit your whining and if you want to win an election get in touch with the views of the average American, instead of your own "lofty" liberal ideals.
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