Jack Parkos | United States
“We must do (X)!” says the politician. “We must do it to save democracy!” To the democratic politician, democracy is like its child; they ignore or rebuke all who critique it. But in reality, democracy deserves much criticism for its failures.
Indeed, many people grow up thinking democracy is the last step in political theory. Democratic republicanism is the only way and it must spread throughout the world, say the many. It may seem we live under a great system where everyone has a say in the government. However, all that this means is that everyone else has a say over your life.
From Republic to Democracy
In the United States, we are a republic. However, it has become more democratic throughout the years. For example, one no longer must own property to vote. As a result, those without property may vote to implement or increase property taxes, involving themselves in a matter that does not affect them. Furthermore, criminals and the uneducated have as much power as you. They can vote your rights away with ease. The democratic politician relies on the lower class to gain power.
Without a doubt, democracy can economically incentivize unsuccessful behavior. Under our democracy, antidiscrimination laws often protect those who do not succeed by virtue of alleged equality. For example, schools may no longer choose how they fund their athletics because of gender “equality”.
A Restriction of Rights
Democracy is simply a violation of private property. It is a way for some to receive free stuff at the expense of others. Universal suffrage allows for the uninformed groups to decide what the informed must do.
If the right to vote were expanded to seven year olds … its policies would most definitely reflect the ‘legitimate concerns’ of children to have ‘adequate’ and ‘equal’ access to ‘free’ french fries, lemonade and videos. – Hans-Hermann Hoppe
Moreover, after democracy came to be, communism and Nazism were able to rise through a democratic process. Democracy can just as easily lead to tyranny as any other form of government.
In a democracy, a tyrant needs only 51% of the people to support him and his tyrannical actions are legitimate. 51% can never truly constitute the will of the people, and neither can any other figure less than 100%. Majority support does not make an action morally right. A popular vote does not decide ethics.
Poor Democratic Leaders
Under a free society, the best leaders would naturally rise and be chosen voluntarily. Under democratic rule, the worst leaders are generally going to be in charge. Deceptive people have an edge over honest people due to the fact that they don’t have to play by the rules; not doing so makes it a lot easier to garner votes.
Democracy is not based on the common good of the community but rather on irrational voter decisions. Plato uses an example of the doctor and a candyman. The doctor offers you the painful truth that ultimately will benefit you. He may do unpleasant procedures on you, but ultimately, you will see the gains. Meanwhile, the candyman offers you a lollipop. This, of course, is a lot more attractive.
Voters are historically unable to look at longterm consequences of actions, and as a result, many may pick the candyman. This is an excellent analogy. In truth, many democratic voters are like children wanting free goodies. “Free” healthcare and welfare are a lot more attractive to some than long-term and sustainable success that doesn’t come from someone else’s paycheck.
In a libertarian society, leaders would rise by protecting their people without stealing from others. It would all be voluntary, unlike democracy. A majority of others agreeing on something does not mean that everyone consents. For example, we can take Ben Franklin’s classical analogy of democracy:
“Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote!”
According to the democratic politician’s logic, the lamb consented to be eaten because the majority of the wolves decided it was okay. Does this sound absurd? My neighbor deciding to steal my income is not freedom in any meaningful way.
Unfortunately, a pure libertarian society is not around the corner. In spite of this, what is a good way to better safeguard rights? The best, most pragmatic short term solution is to “undemocratize” our country. The Founders required that one own land to vote, as they feared that those without land would attempt to steal the land of property owners (they were right; this has happened). It is fair that one should own property to vote, at least on issues regarding private property.
It is also worth debating whether prisoners and the uneducated should vote. Perhaps these are good ideas, perhaps not. But like all ideas, they should see a full and proper debate before reaching a verdict. Many may claim that such a notion is entirely unfair, from the start. How else, though, is it feasible to reduce the size and scope of government?
What Can We Do?
It is unlikely these exact policies will exist. However, those who seek to shrink the state should support any policy that makes us less democratic and prevents a tyranny of the majority. There should be requirements to vote that are worth discussing. These policies will make our country less democratic and more republican (in political theory terms, not the parties).
Naturally, nobody has the right to vote about what someone else does with their private property. But the less property the government steals, the better. Democracy is not liberty; it is an illusion of freedom that politicians can use to gain power.
The Founding Fathers warned us many times of what would happen. The pure libertarian society will not come anytime soon, but any action that supports liberty must be pursued. Naturally, less democracy is more freedom: true freedom.
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