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Bill Altreuter

It is probably true that when people feel insecure they seek more authoritarian governments. This is why I am not so sure we can count the Republicans out in the next election, and why Rudy Giuliani seems to be popular in parts of the country where cross-dressing, pro-choice, nominally Catholic New Yorkers usually would not be so well received. Liberals think that just because Bush is unpopular, the Gimme Cap Crowd must have figured out that the Bush Administration's ideas are bad. Sadly, this is just one more example of liberal wishful thinking. Red State America (or "Real America", depending on your point of view) seems to have settled on the notion that the Bush Administration merely bungled, and that in more capable hands the various hand baskets we are all riding to hell in would be managed better. You don't have to drive far enough to refill your tank to find a whole country that figures Iraq attacked us, and that even if it didn't, our attacking Iraq was a fine notion. They think a lot of other things that are made up, too, and they like the idea of a totalitarian government-- for everybody else.

I don't think it is some elite in Washington that is trying to strangle democracy in America-- there are plenty of people who would happily vote for it.

burritoboy

Well, OK, Lance, you just bumped into the exact spot where the Enlightenment and the classical Greeks most disagree: the Enlightenment says that, properly constituted, we can have a well-behaving democracy effectively forever (Machiavelli says 600+ years, for example).

The ancient Greeks (well, Plato, Aristotle and Xenophon) disagree, saying that no regime can be perpetual like that. Further, Plato and Xenophon argue that when democracies end, they tend to end in far worse ways than other potential regimes do.

Shakespeare insofar as we can tell agrees with the ancient Greeks and disagrees with Machiavelli: regimes just do not last very long nor are notably stable in Shakespeare. Machiavellian rulers tend to have shorter reigns in Shakespeare than ones pursuing classic virtues (though nobody lasts very long, unless they're on a desert isle or in a comedy).

I would argue that democracy already committed suicide in the US quite some time ago (and, on the local level, democracy never really existed at all for huge portions of the population). But I would tend to argue that that's a good thing rather than a bad one: if Machiavelli is wrong (and the reality of only a single Enlightment regime - the UK - lasting stably more than 200 years tends to confirm that he is wrong) means that we're properly realizing that the Enlightenment is based on dubious premises.

looseheadprop

During times of insecurity, people gravitate toward someone who seems "sure".

That's how Bushco fooled so many for so long. It is also why the Clinton Administration was able to be crippled by a stained blue dress. The clitonistas seemed so hesitant, so unsure in their defense of their guy. They were unwillig to stand up for him.

The difference between the two parties has always boiled down to this IMHO: Democrats have better ideas,but horrible execution. Republicans alternately have lousy ideas (or fib about what their ideas really are--think states rights, for example), but really kickass execution.

Also, republicans bully the press. During the Libby trial there was ample testimony baout how fairly igh ranking people in Bushco don't hesitate to pick u a telephone and shout into at the boss of a guy who reported a story that was unfavorable to them.

Shouting! At a reporter's boss. That has a chilling effect.

Sabutai

Eh, sorta.

Hitler did not gain his powers by Democratic process. the Nazis were the second-largest bloc in the Reichstag after the Communists. After a Reichstag that he blamed on the Communists (possibly, but not definitely, correctly), the group was not permitted to enter the Legislature by Nazi strognmen. That is not a democratic process.

Certainly, democracies can commit suicide. What would happen today if Egypt or Pakistan had a free and fair vote? In another sense, democracies can commit suicide if people freely vote to carve the country into different pieces, which is not unheard of either.

matt

We all know what is going to happen. A Democrat will be elected President and the media will all wake-up and say "We have been asleep. We need to start doing our job" and they will investigate said Democrats every move and turn everything they do into a scandle and the Republicans will want to investigate everything because "Its Congress' job to oversee what the White House does," and whoever the Democrat is it will be a re-play of the Clinton years.

burritoboy

"Hitler did not gain his powers by Democratic process. the Nazis were the second-largest bloc in the Reichstag after the Communists. After a Reichstag that he blamed on the Communists (possibly, but not definitely, correctly), the group was not permitted to enter the Legislature by Nazi strognmen. That is not a democratic process."

The problem with this depiction is an assumption that the KPD (German Communist Party) didn't want democracy either. The main supporters of democracy in Weimar were the Social Democrats, the Centre Party, the German People's Party and the German Democratic Party, whose Parliament seats went from a majority 296 (out of the available 491 seats) in 1928 to only 219 seats (out of then Parliament of 608 seats)in 1932. Meanwhile, the anti-democratic right was primarily the DNVP in 1928, and only had 73 seats - and they had lost 30 seats in the 1928 election. In 1932, the DNVP and Nazi parties together had 267 seats - and the Nazi party had gained precisely only 12 seats in the 1928 elections just 3 years earlier. Meanwhile, the antidemocratic Left (KPD) went from having 54 seats in 1928 to 89 seats in 1932.

By 1932, anti-democratic parties had won 366 out of the 608 available Parliament seats. They disagreed on what sort of non-democracy these various anti-democratic parties wanted (the KPD a Stalinist dictatorship, the DNVP a military / aristocratic dictatorship and the Nazis a fascist dictatorship) but the majority of the populance voted against democracy.

burritoboy

"is an assumption that the KPD (German Communist Party) didn't want democracy either"

should read

"is an assumption that the KPD (German Communist Party) did want democracy"

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