The term democracy in America has recently been in the news for all the wrong reasons, and for very good reasons too. A certain breed of Americans who think they know what democracy is should probably have their heads cut off, because this form of government is anything but democratic. Unfortunately the leadership of our country has not learned how to speak the language of democracy, and so we have the unfortunate situation of American style democracy in America where the elected leaders, the legislature, and the popular vote do nothing.
The phrase democracy in America is commonly misused by academics and politicians alike, sometimes using it to compare the United States with Europe or with some third world countries, when in fact the twenty-first century version of the American system of government is much different than any other nation in the world. The most accurate comparison that one can draw between today’s America and any other place in the world, other than perhaps China, is that there is an extremely high degree of individual freedom in America, the highest degree in the world. This means that citizens can choose which laws they live by, which they cannot, and which they have no say over whatsoever. Without having to worry about being ruled by an iron hand, without fear of taxation or arbitrary rule by an autocratic regime, American citizens enjoy freedoms so wide-ranging that nearly every other country on earth can be compared to America.
But is all of this really true? Is America the shining example of a healthy democracy, or is it just a bunch of spoiled, decadent, weak-minded, self-centered, and selfish babies crying out for a better life who need to be coaxed, cajoled, or lectured into accepting something other than the current golden egg: the industrial age. Well, if you’re anything like me, and you know the answer to this question, you’re too smart to be fooled by anyone whose answer you hear. No matter how hard they try, no matter how slick they make themselves, no matter how arrogant they purport to be, no matter how much they whine and how little they achieve, the reality is that democracy and free markets don’t mix well.
The problem with America’s political system has nothing do with America; it has everything to do with the flaws of our political system. It is nothing unique to America. It is something all humans do to some extent. For instance, if we lived in a strictly merit-based society, with no ethnic, national, or linguistic barriers, then everyone who applied for the most top level positions would automatically be eligible for them based solely on their merits. If we instead had a merit-based political system in America and everyone had the same opportunities as everybody else, then somebody with more merit and ability would be left over and that person would be more likely to become a successful entrepreneur and/or leader, because he would have more competition. And that’s exactly what has happened in America – lots of top level jobs have gone to highly qualified CEOs thanks to an almost foolproof merit-based process.
The funny thing is, all this is taking place in an increasingly “meritocratic” (to use an adjective that describes something arbitrarily selected) and democratic (to use an adjective that describes a government characterized by wide ranging and liberalized opportunities) country. One can only imagine the level of liberalism and cultural relativism that will prevail when Hugo Chavez becomes president of Venezuela and allows his people to freely select from a menu of economic goodies that are designed to keep their poor country in poverty. That would be quite ironic, since Hugo Chavez is claiming to want to bring democracy and freedom to his poor country. The fact is that Hugo Chavez will never have his people participate in those things, because their fates are sealed. For them, democracy and freedom means living in extreme poverty and suffering terrible consequences.
It is unfortunate that the people calling themselves the champions of democracy and freedom have abandoned the principles that allowed them to flourish as a bulwark against aristocracy. Instead they advocate a form of social Darwinism in which the survival of the fittest rules. Apparently the aristocracy is no longer extinct in America and, thus, the Democratic Party has little to offer the disenchanted masses in its bid to win back the lost Obama-Fournier base. There is a time for political equality and a time for aristocracy. I hope someone else reminds me of that.