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Vox Populi, Vox Dei

Crazy Ivan

The voice of the people is the voice of god. So must be the motto of any nation which purports itself to be a nation which is "governed by and for the people" etc etc. Yes, this is a rant about the election, but it is also about something broader: the danger which the American people pose to themselves. for as von Schiller wrote "against stupidity, the very gods themselves contend in vain."

When America was founded, many critics feared that it would be seized by the popular will and degenerate into a "mob democracy" in which the uneducated masses ruled by the whim of majority, plunging the society into disaster. The very foundations of our government system are predicated against this very eventuality. Our system is, by definition, representative, in which the will of the people shapes government indirectly, after being distilled by those supposedly wiser representatives. Sometimes even this is not enough. There are those who complain, that the "activist courts" interpret individual rights too liberally and that said courts ought to be held accountable to the American people. Yet what they fail to realize, is that this is a very deliberate design. Some things like our fundamental liberties are too important, too sacred, to be left to something as fickle as the feelings of the populus. That is, in fact, the whole purpose a right, to protect what is unpopular, that which others would deny you. Nor should the people be allowed to abdicate their rights, as they are intended, in some sense, to protect the people from themselves.

The most common reason for the reelection of George W. Bush given in polls of his supports was his sense of "moral values." Morality to these people apparently means, not only holding a certain belief, but enforcing that belief upon others. Whether it be spreading "democratic values" throughout the whole world with military (dare I say imperial?) might, forcing people to abdicate their freedom in the name of "security," or telling people that the way they chose to live their lives should be made illegal. The fact that innocent lives are lost (on both sides), precious freedoms eviscerated, and lives destroyed, seems inconsequential for they are righteous and do god's work. Boy, it's a good thing that kind of thinking never caused anything bad to happen. Their righteousness also blinds them to the fact that they are destroying rights meant to protect them as well as the people they oppose.

Unlike many liberals, I don't think the supporters of the current administration have been defrauded or seriously misled. There may be some inaccurate perceptions, but in the end, it seems that those who support the administration also share its motivations. They actually believe in the things which its opponents find so appalling, even morally repugnant. There is a polarization of fundamental belief in this nation which if not new, is at least newly transparent. A divide which, at least on the liberal, freedom loving side, is seemingly incomprehensible.

The idea of spreading democratic values across the world by force is abhorrent for many reasons. But in speech after speech about the virtues of "democracy," one key semantic issue escapes people. The United States is a republic, not a democracy. Now this may seem a trivial distinction, but what if this nation became a sort of democracy when no one was looking, without constitutional amendment (though possibly with the aid of implicit presidential fiat). The leaders of the nation may have stopped focusing on protecting the rights of the minority, and instead merely acting according to the "values" and fears of the (slight) majority. This is of course, the exact sort of situation, which the Framers planned so much to prevent. It would allow the force of the majority, to totally undermine the rights of the minority. It is therefore inimical to everything this nation was meant to stand for.

Ever since first learning about politics, I've been vehemently opposed to the system of the Electoral College. My reasoning is that its use effectively invalidates the votes of voters in states which were not heavy contested. Furthermore, it no longer serves its original purpose of insulating the masses from the selection of the executive. A task for which the electorate must surely now be competent, right? Recent events seem to indicate otherwise. I suppose all that's left is to state our utter disgust as loudly and rationally as possible and have hope that we do not contend in vain.





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