May 04, 2016

Assuming Democracy is Safe Threatens Democracy

Brendan of Darwin Catholic fame put his money on the line and made actual bets against Trump winning nomination and the general election. Best he can do is break even now.

I was convinced awhile back that Trump would win nomination but get swamped in general. However, I'm feeling less sure of my bet. Complacency isn't the order of the day, and when I came across this GK Chesterton quote it drove that feeling home: "Nothing so much threatens the safety of democracy as assuming that democracy is safe."

This notion was amplified by this excellent link, via Roz via FB:
As this dystopian election campaign has unfolded, my mind keeps being tugged by a passage in Plato’s Republic. It has unsettled — even surprised — me from the moment I first read it in graduate school. The passage is from the part of the dialogue where Socrates and his friends are talking about the nature of different political systems, how they change over time, and how one can slowly evolve into another. And Socrates seemed pretty clear on one sobering point: that “tyranny is probably established out of no other regime than democracy.” What did Plato mean by that? Democracy, for him, I discovered, was a political system of maximal freedom and equality, where every lifestyle is allowed and public offices are filled by a lottery. And the longer a democracy lasted, Plato argued, the more democratic it would become. Its freedoms would multiply; its equality spread. Deference to any sort of authority would wither; tolerance of any kind of inequality would come under intense threat; and multiculturalism and sexual freedom would create a city or a country like “a many-colored cloak decorated in all hues.”

...And what mainly fuels this is precisely what the Founders feared about democratic culture: feeling, emotion, and narcissism, rather than reason, empiricism, and public-spiritedness. Online debates become personal, emotional, and irresolvable almost as soon as they begin. Godwin’s Law — it’s only a matter of time before a comments section brings up Hitler — is a reflection of the collapse of the reasoned deliberation the Founders saw as indispensable to a functioning republic....We have lost authoritative sources for even a common set of facts. And without such common empirical ground, the emotional component of politics becomes inflamed and reason retreats even further. The more emotive the candidate, the more supporters he or she will get.

The general election is dead to me, reduced to a mere curio object.

So abysmal are the choices that I have absolutely no skin in the game. I can write in PeeWee Herman.

But there's no use crying over a spilled election, although it's hard not to feel bitter towards thee person I consider the engineer of this mess, Matt Drudge. The power of his propaganda in poisoning the conservative nest is unparalleled. Along with the acquiescence of Rush Limbaugh and Laura Ingraham and Ann Coulter of course.

It's been interesting to see how the conservative's greatest gift (conservative radio and Internet) turned out to be our greatest enemy (and Hillary's bff).

I feed the troll unwittingly. I'm part of the problem since I find intra-party fights far more interesting than say a Chuck Shumer-John Boehner fight. If Drudge links to a Harry Reid fight with some Republican, no way do I click on the link, but I sure do on these Republican battles. Alas. It's like how intra-Catholic battles seem more interesting to me than, say, a Catholic-Baptist tiff.  News isn't "new" if it isn't new.

If there was a Drudge/Rush counterpart on the Left would the Democratic party have gotten blown up with Sanders as nominee? Or maybe someone slightly left of Sanders, like Raul Castro?

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