Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Lent: Giving Up Democracy

America is becoming a democracy. Maybe we've getting more and more democratic... and that we started on this road some time in the last century. Maybe sometime in the 1800s. Who knows, maybe earlier.

In any case, we didn't start out that way and the very idea of becoming a democracy should scare us greatly.
...The word "democracy" appears in neither of our founding documents -- the Declaration of Independence nor the U.S. Constitution.

Most Americans know what I'm talking about. (I don't believe most Americans are dumb or ignorant... I know too many folks on both sides of the political spectrum that get elitist and condescending about how the other people just arn't as smart as they are. That shit bugs me.)

Williams puts it much better than my talents allow.
Our nation's founders had disdain for democracy and majority rule. James Madison, in Federalist Paper No. 10, said in a pure democracy, "there is nothing to check the inducement to sacrifice the weaker party or the obnoxious individual." During the 1787 Constitutional Convention, Edmund Randolph said that "in tracing these evils to their origin every man had found it in the turbulence and follies of democracy."

John Adams said, "Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There was never a democracy yet that did not commit suicide." Chief Justice John Marshall added, "Between a balanced republic and a democracy, the difference is like that between order and chaos." The founders knew that a democracy would lead to the same kind of tyranny suffered under King George III. Their vision for us was a republic.

"And to the republic for which [the flag] stands..."


Too many of us are lazy enough to say we want a democracy in Iraq. God, no! We hope for Iraq a republic!

Williams suggests a specific model for Iraq's government.
The ideal political model for Iraq is Switzerland's cantonal system. Historically, Switzerland, unlike most European countries, was made up of several different major ethnic groups -- Germans, French, Italians and Rhaeto-Romansch. Over the centuries, conflicts have arisen between these groups, who differ in language, religion (Catholic and Protestant) and culture. The resolution to the conflict was to allow the warring groups to govern themselves.

Switzerland has 26 cantons. The cantons are divided into about 3,000 communes. Switzerland's federal government controls only those interests common to all cantons -- national defense, foreign policy, railways and the like. All other matters are controlled by the individual cantons and communes. The Swiss cantonal system enables people of different ethnicity, language, culture and religion to live at peace with one another. As such, Switzerland's political system is well suited to an ethnically and religiously divided country such as Iraq.

If it happens, we should hope no one convinces their government to take control of education.


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