THE COLUMN: The Worst Form of Government

To save the American nation as founded, the first thing we have to do is restore the basic principles of the original American Republic. Most real Americans are familiar with Benjamin Franklin's famous reply to the question of which type of government the Founders gathered in Philadelphia in year 1787 had decided upon, a monarchy or a republic: "A Republic, if you can keep it." Nota bene that the word "democracy" was nowhere mentioned, nor was it ever seriously envisaged by the men meeting at the constitutional convention that year. As Churchill famously observed: 

Many forms of Government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.…’

It has indeed been said. But if by "democracy"—or "our democracy" as the Left is fond of saying, by which they mean their version of "democracy"—we mean a universally enfranchised electorate that includes indigents, welfare cases, teenagers, layabouts, criminals, non-citizens, the unidentified, illegal aliens, and non-taxpayers, then it really is the worst form of government. Because, at that point, it's simply unrestricted mob rule under which the majority votes itself the wealth and possessions of the minority until the monetary and social capital runs out, after which the entire system collapses. 

They had a good long run.

A republic is a form of government in which voting citizens elect representatives to small political bodies in order to vote on matters of civic interest or concern on behalf of the citizenry. The Romans, for example, were ruled in their Republic by a pair of consuls, serving simultaneously for a one-year term, and a senate composed of mostly wealthy men, usually aristocrats. There was also a host of lesser officers, including praetors, questors, aediles, etc. There was even an unwritten but constitutional provision for the office of Dictator in times of civic or national crisis.

Tribunes, who could be elected by the people or appointed by the consuls, represented the common folk, and had veto power over legislation. but overall the votes of the propertied classes and equestrians had a greater weight than those of the lower classes. Women, although citizens, were not allowed to vote or hold office; instead, their political power was wielded behind the scenes. A Roman politician could go very far as long as his wife's fingerprints were on the knife.

The Roman way may not be to modern tastes, but it worked from the expulsion of the Tarquins in 509 B.C. (the last kings of Rome) up to the assassination of Caesar in 44 B.C. (His dictatorship-for-life only lasted a month.) Caesar's death at the hands of his political opponents in the senate came at the end of a half-century of civil war during which time Rome's empire had outgrown the capacity of its political system to effectively govern it. Further, the increasing aggrandizement of personal wealth via military conquest in effect produced large private armies that were set against each other until the Battle of Actium in 31 B.C., in which Antony and Cleopatra were defeated by Octavian, soon to become Caesar Augustus, the first emperor. After all, Caesar conquered Gaul not because Rome asked him to, but because he needed the money.

As monarchy gradually made way for various forms of republicanism, at no time was a plebiscitary democracy—a society in which every man, woman, and child got a vote—ever envisaged.  There was no enumerated "right" to vote in the Constitution; the qualifications were largely left up to the states, which set minimum ages for voting in their own elections. Early on, for example, the original 13 colonies each had some sort of property qualification for male voters, and by the time the national constitution was ratified in 1789, free black men of property could vote in some jurisdictions. But as the Civil War loomed, and Southern Democrat animosity toward Africans hardened, black men had been stripped of voting privileges, and only got them back with the passage of the Fifteenth Amendment under Republican president Ulysses S. Grant in 1870.

Madison: right from the start.

The subsequent history of the United States has been an ever-greater push to universalize voting "rights," to the detriment of the Founders' original notions of what constituted a government that could best protect individual freedom and God-given (not man-given) rights. As Madison said during the debates over the constitution in 1787:

Viewing the subject in its merits alone, the freeholders of the Country would be the safest depositories of Republican liberty. In future times a great majority of the people will not only be without landed, but any other sort of, property. These will either combine under the influence of their common situation; in which case, the rights of property & the public liberty, will not be secure in their hands: or which is more probable, they will become the tools of opulence & ambition, in which case there will be equal danger on another side. 

Madison has, of course, been proven right. From the time of ancient Athens and the Roman Republic, no sane system of government ever afforded the franchise universally and uncritically. Today, as the chief advocates for the craze of egalitarianism in all things, the Left speaks of the franchise in religious terms, as a "sacred right," which is rich coming from them, since the only thing they currently hold sacred apparently is their right to contract monkeypox without social disapproval in their continuing pursuit of Dionysian sexual excess. 

Just how badly the universal franchise has turned out can be seen in this current moment of our electoral politics. Chaotic elections in 2000, 2016, and 2020 have become the new normal. The Left howls about "disenfranchisement" even as it tears down all legal restrictions on untrammeled voting, most notably attacking the role of the states in determining eligibility (an authority that, as noted, goes back to the founding of the country) and relentlessly gutting protections against voter fraud.

And yet despite its ready availability, the vote seems not highly prized by the public, where it is routinely met by indifference by half the population. As urbanologist Joel Kotkin notes in his pessimistic piece on the upcoming election in Los Angeles, pitting white millionaire (and former Republican; California now is a one-party state) Rick Caruso against black female radical Democrat Karen Bass, the decision to pick the new mayor lies almost entirely in the hands of the members of the teachers' union. And you know whom they're going to vote for:

Unsurprisingly, some Angelenos have sought to reverse this disastrous course. Earlier this year, disgruntled residents united around property developer Rick Caruso in his insurgent campaign to become mayor of Los Angeles. Caruso spent over $24million of his own money on the first round of the election in June. Caruso is the grandson of Italian immigrants, whose father founded the successful LA business, Dollar Rent a Car. And he has himself been a big player in California for years. Yet Caruso’s mayoral bid appears to have stalled against the well-organized might of the city’s public-employee-driven political machine.

This is a powerful machine. According to Gloria Romero, a former state senator from east Los Angeles, this public-sector political machine has filled the vacuum left behind by weakened neighborhoods, a decline in local churches and the loosening of family ties. At the same time, turnouts for city elections have been dropping consistently, reaching only 14 per cent in the primary back in June. Meanwhile, practices like ‘ballot harvesting’, which allows campaign workers to gather ballots at nursing homes and other facilities with little supervision, make progressives all but unbeatable. This proved critical in the first round, as Bass, behind in the early results, ended up with a five-point lead after the late ballots were counted, which included those from harvesters.

You do the math. Universal suffrage plus low turnout plus powerful public-sector unions = civic ruination. The Democrats say they want everyone to vote and every vote to count, but what they mean is they want their people to vote, and only their votes to count. Reinstating a property requirement, or even restricting voting to those with a positive net worth (even if it's only one cent), regardless of race or sex—although there were and still remain strong arguments against female suffrage—would do wonders for governance, but it will never happen for reasons you well know. The point of the exercise is not to preserve the Republic for a better tomorrow but to destroy it.

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Further, once the electorate understands it can vote itself funds from the public treasury, "their democracy" is suddenly our very big problem. You wonder why there's a "labor shortage" in the middle of a recession? The famous observation, "A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury," attributed variously to Alexander Fraser Tytler and to de Tocqueville, is most likely apocryphal, but the sentiment remains true. 

In the Federalist Papers, No. 10, James Madison wrote: "a pure democracy, by which I mean a society consisting of a small number of citizens, who assemble and administer the government in person, can admit of no cure for the mischiefs of faction... Hence it is that such democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths." And when that "pure democracy" consists of everybody... 

Los Angeles, where you can vote yourself a piece of the American Dream.

In their incessant quest to dilute the value of the vote by expanding it, the Left has shown its true anti-constitutional colors. Should one pose the value-neutral question, "Why should the franchise be universal?" the answer is "because." As we go about our efforts to restore the intent of the Constitution, it behooves us to remember the crucial role that property—"skin in the game," as we might say today—has played in the preservation of our freedom from the beginning. Now you understand why the communist/Marxist Left is so dead set against it, and why it has inverted the very concept of freedom against those who would preserve it.

We want, and were given, ordered liberty. We prize our Constitution; these blackguards despise it. But it's our Republic, not their "democracy," and it's about time we make that clear to them—by any means necessary, as they like to say.

THE COLUMN: 'Our Democracy' Needs a Great Reset

You know the American Republic is on its last legs when those trying to destroy it consistently refer to it as "our democracy," which is exactly what it is not and what it was never intended to be. Historically, democracies don't last long, because they quickly turn into tyrannies after passing through the parasitical stage. Democracy in ancient Greece was hardly what we might call "democracy" today, as voting was restricted males with a stake in the system. No votes for women, slaves, or helots. The young male hoplites of Athens had to complete military training as ephebes to earn their right to vote, and not simply achieve their majority, which was effectively 20; additionally they had to buy their own armor and weapons and be prepared to go to war on practically an annual basis. (Any resemblance between this society and the world of Starship Troopers is entirely intentional.) 

Modern experience has taught us that essentially plebiscitary democracies, in which the "right" to vote is applied indiscriminately, and for which there are no qualifications (in some cases, not even breathing) eventually collapse once the citizenry discover they can vote themselves money without having to work for it. Roman democracy in the days of the Republic was a horse-trading racket which gradually broke down during the civil war between Sulla and Marius into a street thugocracy. Caesar's attempt to yank the Republic back from the brink went down in a hail of knife thrusts on the Ides of March in 44 B.C. Augustus called himself Princeps (first citizen) instead of Emperor (which had been a military honorific) but by the time of Tiberius, the Republic was one in name only and Rome had become an Empire, with a command-and-control centralized leadership and a huge, strangulating bureaucracy that made itself very, very rich.

If these walls could talk...

And that is what eventually spelled its doom. But don't take it from me, take it from Edward Gibbon in The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, first published in the epochal year of 1776:

Wherever the seat of government is fixed, a considerable part of the public revenue will be expended by the prince himself, by his ministers, by the officers of justice, and by the domestics of the palace. The most wealthy of the provincials will be attracted by the powerful motives of interest and duty, of amusement and curiosity. A third and more numerous class of inhabitants will insensibly be formed, of servants, of artificers, and of merchants, who derive their subsistence from their own labor, and from the wants or luxury of the superior ranks.

...it was artfully contrived by Augustus, that, in the enjoyment of plenty, the Romans should lose the memory of freedom. But the prodigality of Constantine could not be excused by any consideration either of public or private interest; and the annual tribute of corn imposed upon Egypt for the benefit of his new capital, was applied to feed a lazy and insolent populace, at the expense of the husbandmen of an industrious province.

Constantine: moving didn't solve the problem.

And here we are: a lazy and insolent populace demands that others feed, house, and clothe them at public expense, in exchange for doing nothing civically useful. And yet we are constantly told by the enemies of the Republic (who aptly call themselves "Democrats") that the "right" to vote is "sacred" and "sacrosanct," which is pretty rich coming from professional atheists and nihilists who believe only in tearing down whatever is good. Unsurprisingly, these are the same people who hate the Constitution and are now open in their advocacy of its destruction.

Let's start with this gem, by "doctors" Ryan D. Doerfler and Samuel Moyn, law professors at Harvard and Yale:

When liberals lose in the Supreme Court — as they increasingly have over the past half-century — they usually say that the justices got the Constitution wrong. But struggling over the Constitution has proved a dead end. The real need is not to reclaim the Constitution, as many would have it, but instead to reclaim America from constitutionalism.

Constitutions — especially the broken one we have now — inevitably orient us to the past and misdirect the present into a dispute over what people agreed on once upon a time, not on what the present and future demand for and from those who live now. This aids the right, which insists on sticking with what it claims to be the original meaning of the past.

Arming for war over the Constitution concedes in advance that the left must translate its politics into something consistent with the past. But liberals have been attempting to reclaim the Constitution for 50 years — with agonizingly little to show for it. It’s time for them to radically alter the basic rules of the game.

One might better say that it's time to sack both Harvard and Yale and sow salt in their ashes as enemies of the Republic and threats to the American way of life. You know, the way the Roman Republic treated the Baal-worshipping Phoenician/Levantine/Canaanite outpost city of Carthage at the end of the Third Punic War in 146 B.C., after which Carthage become a prosperous and productive Roman burg in the province of Africa until its conquest by Muslim Arabs in 698 A.D.

Gibbon: right all along.

Behind door #2 we find this gem, a cowardly unsigned contribution to the Harvard Law Review called "Pack the Union: A Proposal to Admit New States for the Purpose of Amending the Constitution to Ensure Equal Representation." A sample:

To create a system where every vote counts equally, the Constitution must be amended. To do this, Congress should pass legislation reducing the size of Washington, D.C., to an area encompassing only a few core federal buildings and then admit the rest of the District’s 127 neighborhoods as states. These states — which could be added with a simple congressional majority — would add enough votes in Congress to ratify four amendments: (1) a transfer of the Senate’s power to a body that represents citizens equally; (2) an expansion of the House so that all citizens are represented in equal-sized districts; (3) a replacement of the Electoral College with a popular vote; and (4) a modification of the Constitution’s amendment process that would ensure future amendments are ratified by states representing most Americans.

In short, we have to destroy the Constitution in order to save it. But why let the Left have all the fun? If we really want to defend our Republic -- and do away with "their democracy" -- it's time to get busy. Institutional capture is something conservatives are terrible at, in part because they don't realize our institutions of government, faith, and learning are even subject to capture. That's in part because traditionalists consistently underestimate the satanic maliciousness of the Frankfurt School and because they have not heeded John O'Sullivan's famous formulation that "any organization not explicitly right-wing sooner or later becomes left-wing," often incorrectly ascribed to the late Robert Conquest.

So instead of destroying the Constitution in order to appease the Alinskyite malcontents on the Left (Rule No. 4: "Make opponents live up to their own book of rules. You can kill them with this, for they can no more obey their own rules than the Christian church can live up to Christianity"), why not simply roll things back and restore it? Where that restoration point would be is open to discussion, but at the very least it ought to include the abolition of most of the amendments after 1900, starting with those of the "Progressive" era, and certainly including the 26th, another of Ted Kennedy's gifts to the country that saved his immediate ancestors from the Great Famine in Ireland.

What do you think? How do we restore Our Republic? I'll have some specific ideas next week, but the floor is now open for suggestions from those of you who do not think the United States of America was illegitimate from the jump, treasure it as one of the highest achievements of the Enlightenment, and reject central-European socialism in all its serpentine manifestations.

You want a "Great Reset"? Here's your big chance. Over to you. 

Welcome to 476 A.D.

The world's most obnoxious teen girl is at it again. With the grownups having abdicated all responsibility across the western world, and the barbarians at the gates, think of Greta Thunberg as, well... Romulus Augustulus, empress of all she surveys. For now:

Greta Thunberg says the world needs to learn the lessons of coronavirus and treat climate change with similar urgency. That means the world acting "with necessary force", the Swedish climate activist says in an exclusive interview with BBC News.

She doesn't think any "green recovery plan" will solve the crisis alone. And she says the world is now passing a "social tipping point" on climate and issues such as Black Lives Matter. "People are starting to realise that we cannot keep looking away from these things", says Ms Thunberg, "we cannot keep sweeping these injustices under the carpet".

She says lockdown has given her time to relax and reflect away from the public gaze.

So who is Romulus Augustulus, you ask?

Ms Thunberg has shared with the BBC the text of a deeply personal programme she has made for Swedish Radio. In the radio programme, which goes online this morning, Greta looks back on the year in which she became one of the world's most high-profile celebrities.

The then 16-year-old took a sabbatical from school to spend a tumultuous year campaigning on the climate. She sailed across the Atlantic on a racing yacht to address a special UN Climate Action summit in New York in September. She describes world leaders queuing to get pictures with her, with Angela Merkel asking whether it was okay to post her photo on social media.

The climate campaigner is sceptical of their motives. "Perhaps it makes them forget the shame of their generation letting all future generations down", she says. "I guess maybe it helps them to sleep at night."

Her Majesty is upset. She came into this world expecting perfection, and the adults have let her down. In fact, they have deliberately destroyed her slim chance of happiness by their willful inaction on the "climate emergency" that's visible all around us. Why, just look out the window!

End of the line.

It was in the UN that she delivered her famous "how dare you" speech. "You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words", she told the world leaders gathered in the UN Assembly. She appeared on the verge of tears as she continued. "People are dying," she said, "and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you?"

She knew it was a "lifetime moment" and decided not to hold anything back, she says now. "I am going to let my emotions take control and to really make something big out of this because I won't be able to do this again".

Still, the Empress is disappointed in her subjects, who have not lived up to her ideals, and that the glory that was once Rome -- er, Sweden.

She describes travelling back from the UN to her hotel on the subway and seeing people watching the speech on their phones, but says she felt no urge to celebrate. "All that is left are empty words", she says. The phrase reflects her deep cynicism about the motives of most world leaders.

"The level of knowledge and understanding even among people in power is very, very low, much lower than you would think," she told the BBC. She says the only way to reduce emissions on the scale that is necessary is to make fundamental changes to our lifestyles, starting in developing countries. But she doesn't believe any leaders have the nerve to do that. Instead, she says, they "simply refrain from reporting the emissions, or move them somewhere else".

The teenager believes the only way to avoid a climate crisis is to tear up contracts and abandon existing deals and agreements that companies and countries have signed up to. "The climate and ecological crisis cannot be solved within today's political and economic systems", the Swedish climate activist argues. "That isn't an opinion. That's a fact."

Indeed, Her Serene Highness has much, much more to say to her subjects -- but hold! There's someone knocking at the gates. A fellow by the name of Odoacer.