Democratic Government: An Oxymoron


With the decline of religion, the state has become an object of worship, and democracy is its principal dogma. It is perhaps the only aspect of political life that is never, ever, criticized, at least publicly.

It is not enough, moreover, that Americans enjoy democracy. Foreigners must also wallow in its benefits, even, perhaps, if they have no interest in, or appreciation of, it. The United States is spending billions of dollars, and the lives of thousands of its soldiers, to bring democracy to Iraq, and, if President Bush is to be believed, the Iraqis are willing to die for it. In a speech delivered in December of 2005, Mr. Bush, speaking of upcoming elections in that country, declared that, "Millions of Iraqis will put their lives on the line this Thursday in the name of liberty and democracy."

And in a radio interview in February, 2003, our president declared that, "The nation of Iraq — is fully capable of moving toward democracy and living in freedom." Clearly, in the presidential mind, democracy is linked with freedom and liberty.

And what’s good for the Americans and Iraqis is good for the Palestinians, too. In November of 2003, the president, in a speech to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, informed us that, "For the Palestinian people, the only path to independence and dignity and progress is the path of democracy."

What is this wonderful thing that brings not only liberty and freedom, but independence, dignity, and progress? The generally accepted definition is that democracy is "government by the people," or the "rule of the majority." This rule is exercised either directly, or indirectly via freely elected representatives.

Baloney! Let’s not mince words. Democracy is a preposterous notion. "Rule by the people?" But if the people ruled, where does government enter the picture? Isn’t it government that rules? And government — i.e. the rulers — rules the people, although while doing so it piously insists that this is a democracy, where the people rule!

"Rule of the majority?" Are they referring to those much-vaunted elections in which we are all urged to participate? When was the last time that a majority of the people elected anyone? And, if you voted, can you be properly "represented" by someone you voted against?

And how representative are our representatives? Do they solicit our opinions about the matters on which they are going to vote? In fact, it is virtually certain that the overwhelming majority of the people, who, in theory, rule, are unaware of what their congressmen are voting on at any given time.

In this democracy of ours (all genuflect) it is the servants of the public who rule those who, we are always reminded, rule! Arriving at their plush offices in their limousines, these selfless servants exhaust themselves producing rule after rule to regulate, limit and control (i.e., govern!) the rulers. Those of us who, in this great democracy, rule the country are told what we can do and what we must not do, and what punishment will be meted out to us for disobedience. We, the rulers, are given these orders by our servants!

It’s too ridiculous to take seriously. An election is looming, and you can be certain that you will hear the democracy invoked with a reverence once reserved for the Deity. In the next breath, the invokers will tell us of the programs they envision for America. In other words, what new rules and regulations they plan to impose upon the public, which, of course, does the actual ruling in a democracy. And they expect us to take them seriously! Sadly, many of us do.

Democracy and government are mutually contradictory concepts. The people cannot rule themselves and at the same time live under a government that claims that authority. If democracy were possible, our elected "representatives" — elected by, perhaps, 30% of eligible voters — would not arrive in Washington with schemes for the control of our lives and our property. Rather, they would arrive with a blank slate, waiting to be told what to do. Personally, my orders would be for them to go home, get honest work, and let me alone!

Dr. Hein [send him mail] is author of All Work & No Pay, which is out of print, but may occasionally be obtained on eBay.