Dennis Prager is always a source of wisdom. One of his more pithy axioms is “the bigger the government, the smaller the citizen.” We would like to add a corollary. The bigger the government the smaller the space in which democracy can function.
During much of this year, we have been bombarded by Democrats about the “threat to Democracy” or “the end of Democracy” in America.
Usually, this is in the context of criticizing anyone who questions the veracity of election results or procedures, or the January 6th incursion into the US Capitol building. We only wish their concern extended beyond these narrow topics. We think they are missing the broader crisis.
We would like to take a view from 20,000 feet. We will purposely avoid the definitional debate about a democracy versus a republic. Our concern here is the degree to which voters can determine their own fate either directly or through their elected representatives.
People are free when most aspects of their life and under their control, subject to their judgment, facing the consequences of their decisions based on their circumstances and their life philosophy. Democracy is really the freedom to choose, especially the freedom to choose who runs the government.
So, our working definition of democracy is the freedom to choose on the maximum level possible the terms of one’s own life, and the freedom to choose one’s government through voting.
By our definition, a country is more democratic if both individuals and their representatives largely control policy in the country. We say this recognizing our republic has a Constitution that stipulates “Congress shall make no law”, whether the majority wants it or not. There are limits to what democratic processes can do in our system.
Thus, we are a constitutional republic.
But within the confines of what voters can do, there seems to be ever-diminishing space for actual decision-making.
Moreover, we supposedly operate in a system where the just powers of government come from the consent of those governed. However, that consent is now increasingly subject to a flawed election system.
The more actual power that voters have to decide who governs is in fact a fair measure of the degree of democracy in any given nation. If democracy is regarded as good, then most things should be controlled by “we the people” as long as they don’t violate the rights of others.
Let’s look at the budget decisions made by the US Congress. Government cannot function without money and the appropriation of funds is a key power of the House of Representatives.
It is estimated that about 85% of the current budget is in fact on “automatic pilot”. Previous decisions have erected a vast array of welfare state, pension, and medical benefits. People qualify for these benefits often just because of reaching a triggering age or income level, and thus Congress has little to say in actuality on budget matters. The partisan battles that you see are over a diminishing 15% slice of the total budget?
Is that really democratic?
We would contend it is not. If elected representatives don’t even vote on most of the budget, how much control indirectly do citizens actually have on the process? Not much. Who has power, in reality, is the automatic pilot flying the budget, not a pilot elected by the passengers.
Younger voters never got to say how their tax dollars are being spent thus in the vast majority of programs. Two or three previous generations made the decision for them. The opinions and consent of more recent generations were never part of the process. How “democratic” is that? Does one generation have the right to impoverish another generation? Are these major budgetary items forever off limits to democratic scrutiny?
But digging a bit deeper, even the sliver of 15% we get to fight over is conducted in a way that is very undemocratic. We see it operating right now before our eyes. So-called omnibus legislation, where everything is lumped together in one giant “take it or leave it” proposition. Either voting for a lot of wasteful special interest spending or “we will close down the government” are the parameters under which the decisions will really be made. That really narrows the range of choices of our “elected representatives.”
Arizona Congressman Andy Biggs has noted the recent McConnell pact with Democrats effectively removed the leverage the House of Representatives had to investigate the abuses of both the FBI and the Department of Justice. In fact, the omnibus bill gave them both huge raises, a reward for bad behavior.
Under the current system, Congressional budgetary votes are largely symbolic. Symbolic of a system that is not democratic.
In fact, the legislation is usually introduced at one in the morning and voted on at five in the morning without anyone really having a chance even to read the legislation. The real job of legislating is actually done in secret by special interest lobbyists and party leadership.
Thus, we have no control whatsoever over 85% of the budget, and barely any control over the remaining 15%.
If democracy is “we the people” having much to say about what happens, then our present system cannot be regarded as very democratic, can it?
Moreover, a vast portion of our lives is determined by unelected bureaucrats that run the fourth branch of government, the regulatory agencies within the ‘administrative state’ and under the control of the Executive branch. These agencies exercise legislative, executive, and judicial functions, all without the proper division of power. We have little if anything to say about what they will order us to do.
With so much of our lives ruled by the permanent bureaucracy, it is difficult to describe this as a democracy in action. And as previously noted, with hardly any control of the budget, Congress has little power to reign in the bureaucracy.
Therefore, regulatory agencies exercise powers without the consent of the governed.
This unelected bureaucracy now extends to international organizations to which no one is elected. We are speaking about organizations like the United Nations with their global warming agenda. This may determine our standard of living, the reliability of our electrical grid, our competitive position in the world, even the choice we have of automobiles.
The same can be said for the World Economic Forum. When is the last time you voted for Klaus Schwab or Bill Gates to lord over you or the planet?
This is a huge exercise of power over us, and we have no democratic influence on them at all.
Finally, as to the “democratic process” by which we do get to elect our representatives, the last few years have been revelatory.
Democrats pay for bogus opposition research, which is then turned into two impeachment proceedings and multiple legal actions. The FBI helps finance this bogus research and keeps an office with the law firm representing the Democrats. The FBI further lies to the FISA courts and illegally spies on a Republican campaign and a Republican administration. They even spy on Congressman Nunes and his staff, looking into their ‘abuses’!
After years of telling us Russia was interfering in our elections we find it is our own government, largely the unelected part of that government that interferes in our elections.
Lawyers who hatch these schemes get hired by social media companies, which then use their power to suppress information and influence election outcomes. The FBI actually pays millions of dollars to social media firms and employs over 80 agents to stifle our right to free speech. Even the CIA gets into the act of influencing social media.
Hundreds of former employees of our intelligence agencies get hired by social media companies, who then get subsidized by those same agencies and follow government orders. While technically Congress “makes no law abridging the freedom of speech”, the government outsourced the violations to “private” companies, that live and die by the regulatory relationship they have with the government.
This is just one step shy of state-owned and controlled media companies.
Do you get to vote on policy for these private media partners in government?
Private companies and the government blend together under the fascist ideal and work together impervious to democratic input. Our present system would make Benito Mussolini proud.
The election process by which we choose our representative is then rigged by Federal agencies which use our own tax dollars to suppress our own democratic choices.
If our representatives actually survive that process, they don’t get to vote on much that is relevant, and that which they do get to vote on, they are not allowed to read and have little choice but to follow party leadership in giant omnibus legislation.
Meanwhile, most of our lives are determined day to day by rules and regulations written and enforced by people we neither vote for nor can fire.
No wonder there is a populist backlash building. People feel the government is no longer listening to them because they aren’t.
The citizen is getting smaller and smaller, and the control of government is now largely out of the control of our elected representatives.