One purpose of popular government is to solve some of the problems that come with more traditional forms of rule, like aristocracy. A people ruled by a good king are happy, but a people ruled by a despotic or inept king are not just unhappy with the results, but frustrated at the lack of options. Waiting for the king to die of old age or perish in an unfortunate hunting accident is not a satisfactory solution.
Similarly, rule by a strongman or a military coalition offers no way to redress grievances, at least not without great risk. You can appeal to the honor of a king or a lord, but no such option exists with a dictator. The only real option is to threaten the system with a rebellion. A big mob outside the ruler’s place can force change, but it can also result in the army opening fire on the crowd.
John F. Kennedy famously said, “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.” The line was no doubt written for him, but it captured the sentiment in favor of popular government at the time. Elections offer the public an opportunity to petition the political class for redress of grievances and if they are not satisfied with the results, get a new political class.
As a practical matter, no popular form of government offers the people a chance to replace their rulers. The people holding office represent coalitions of powerful interests, who work through elected officials. The real job of officeholders is to make the policies palatable to the public. What the public can do is put a peaceful brake on the ruling class, by revolting at the ballot box. Donald Trump in 2016, for example.
In theory, liberal democracy combines the natural hierarchy of human society balanced against the populist impulses of a public engaged in politics. Cloaked in the garb of republican virtue, political parties compete with one another for the support of the public, but only over a narrow set of issues deemed appropriate. The center of the debate is supposed to be what is in the best interest of society.
The media is both the conduit and the catalyst for political debate. They position themselves as the inquisitor of the powerful and the examiner of their public claims. American media claims to speak truth to power, for example. At the same time, they report on what is happening in politics. The media in a liberal democracy is supposed to keep the public informed, because democracy needs educated voters.
This is what makes current events in America both interesting and dangerous. The various pieces of the puzzle that is liberal democracy are not working. The media, for example, is nothing more than the public relations department for the narrow cabal that is currently running the empire. The people who used to claim that “democracy dies in darkness” are now demanding censorship and speech laws.
Both political parties now compete with each other for the love of Wall Street, Silicon Valley, and global interests. Democrats, for example, are promising to amnesty tens of millions of illegal aliens, while the Republicans promise to give unlimited helot labor to the tech oligarchs. Exactly no one voting in either party wants any of this, but it does not matter as the issue will never be put to the voters anyway.
Of course, what is put before the voters does not matter, as no one now has any trust in the election system. The 2020 election had a series of unprecedented results, any one of which would be a miracle. For example, Trump increased his vote by 17% and lost, which has never happened in American history. There was a 20% increase in the vote, something else that has never happened in electoral history.
Compounding all of this is the stunning dishonesty we are seeing. The media lies so much that they have become worthless at news reporting. Outside of sports scores, nothing they “report” can be accepted at face value. In fact, the prudent way to consume American media now is to just assume what they are saying is false. At least one possible option is eliminated as you guess at the truth.
The political class, of course, lies with impunity. Politicians have always been creative with the facts, but free of press scrutiny, they don’t even try to hide their contempt for the people they are supposed to represent. Private actors, like the tech oligarchs, come before Congress and lie through their teeth. They know the politicians will do nothing about it. They share their contempt for the general public.
It’s not just political actors flooding us with falsehoods. Boring government statistics, like unemployment numbers, can no longer be trusted. For example, according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office, the unemployment data is inaccurate and no one knows why. More accurately, no one cares why it is inaccurate. They post the numbers they want to post for internal political reasons.
The result of all of this is a system in which not only is peaceful revolution impossible, but minor reform is no longer possible. Election results are ignored by the political class, and now those election results may not even be legitimate. The Democratic Party had to rig their primary to install Biden as the nominee instead of Sanders. Now it appears they have rigged the general election to install Biden instead of Trump.
If the voters cannot pick their leaders, they have no hope of influencing the political class through the electoral process. If the political class has nothing but contempt for the people, those people will inevitably return the favor. Where that leaves us is where societies end up with dictators. With no peaceful option available, the only option left is a violent overthrow of the ruling order.
Somehow, a system that was supposed to allow for regular pressure relief is now operating like a pressure cooker. Every move by the political class results in a greater degree of public agitation with them. This in turns results in more foolish responses from the political class. Liberal democracy in America appears to be in a death spiral inevitably leading to what appears to be a violent conclusion.
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