THE DISESTABLISHMENTARIANS

democracy n: government by the people, especially rule of the majority. -Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary

republic n.: a government in which the supreme power resides in a body of citizens entitled to vote and is exercised by elected officers and representatives responsible to them and governing according to law.  -Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary

Recently, at age 91 Lee Kuan Yew died. He had been, one way or another, the authoritarian ruler of Singapore for almost two generations.

Lee Kuan Yew had led the transformation of a previously strife-ridden backwater racked by sectarian civil disorder among its heterogeneous population of mainly Chinese with Malay and Indian minorities into a thriving, prosperous, clean, orderly, modern city-state devoid of debt and self-degradation. The cost? Freedom to disestablish via the ballot-box or other ways the creation over which he had presided.

With his death, there appeared those, such as the editors of the neo-conservative National Review, who bemoaned that which Lee Kuan Yew accomplished via authoritarianism. They bemoaned his steadfast refusal to allow democracy, an obscenity to the Founding Fathers of our own United States of America, to set that tiny nation on fire as American disestablishmentarians have set afire our own nation — a nation now in decline with deepening debt, serial military losses, and abominable self-degradation.

Democracy, especially in large countries such as the USA, long has been considered ultimately self-defeating. With rare exceptions, allowing all members of a large society to determine equally via the ballot-box the operation and destiny of a nation ultimately, by its nature, must become suicidal. Such was the belief of the renown political philosopher Montesquieu, for example, to whose writings the Founding Fathers looked for guidance.(1) Such has been the course of history as currently being confirmed by contemporary, Western societies.

The USA came into being as a participatory republic based upon the assumption of a moral; religious; Christian; Euro-Caucasian, mainly Nordic, citizenry living under a written constitution reflecting English law and custom. Today, historical revisionists dispute those true origins. Would that they recall the sentiments of the Founding Fathers such as John Adams, Samuel Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and James Madison to disabuse themselves of their misconceptions.(2-5) That some of the Founding Fathers may have preferred Deism, popular during the Age of Enlightenment, does not belie their belief in God nor in morality reflecting Judeo-Christianity.

That theological perspective remained through subsequent generations. Contrary to the current propaganda of secular relativists, President Abraham Lincoln, for example, declared Thanksgiving as a religious holiday. These disestablishmentarians may pervert history according to their newly-concocted, idiosyncratic, ephemeral fashions, but they cannot change its facts.

Unlike religion, however, democracy not only is not for everyone, it is for hardly anyone. In 1787 during the writing of a new constitution, Federalists and Anti-Federalists agreed on that matter. Accordingly, the new constitution would be based upon the notion of a participatory republic. Ah, but who was to participate?

Women? Negroes? Who?

The Federalists’ theory at the time was that the learned class would comprise most members in Congress; thereby, tempering the momentary passions of the mob.  Small farmers and small businessmen would comprise most voters. Determining who actually was eligible to vote and under what conditions remained vaguely worded, essentially delegated to the States albeit with limited and only rare federal alteration.

“The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time make or alter such Regulations, except as to the places of choosing Senators.” -Article I, Section 4

Such went theory, but how went practice? Over the years and confirmatory of the concerns of the Anti-Federalists, increasingly the federal government has encroached on that right of the States via the revengeful, anti-Southern ratification of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments following the Civil War, legislative laws without constitutional authority, judicial decisions based upon judges’ own invocation of judicial review, and unconstitutional executive orders.

As Chester A. Riley, a fictional character played by William Bendix in an old, radio-series often said, “What a revoltin’ development this is!”

Regarding the now ever-present, often-cited, all-important Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments, would the vengeful congressmen of the victorious Union even have proposed those Amendments had not John Wilkes Booth performed the greatest disservice to the South in its entire history by assassinating Lincoln? Let us not forget, despite the bleating of historical revisionists, that Lincoln had proposed that the wounds inflicted by both sides be forgotten and that the nation be reunited essentially as it had existed prior to the awful carnage but without slavery. Had he survived, would the “carpetbaggers” with their pillage of the South likely have occurred? As for the two Amendments, let us not forget that Lincoln had considered returning the freed slaves to Africa, whence they had come. Had those Amendments ever passed the Congress, might not he have vetoed them?

The consequences of federal encroachment? A political system essentially confirming the concerns of the Anti-Federalists and disproving the Federalists’ assumptions and their codification in their Constitution. The United States of America continuously has evolved from the orderly governance of a republic with limited but widespread participation towards the disorderly governance of a democracy racked by mob-rule among competing minorities — a nation on fire merely masquerading as the republic envisioned by the Federalists.

What, then, of Singapore? Should disestablishmentarians there succeed in transforming it into a democracy, what would be the consequences? For the most likely answer, look to the past.

Science says, “Past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior.”

So, if not democracy in Singapore, what? A participatory republic composed of an individually responsible, moral citizenry with protection for life and property determined in an orderly fashion via the ballot-box? A democracy conferring equal voting rights upon everyone with those who live off the creativity and productivity of others possess an equal right to vote themselves their own largesse as they now do in the United States?

“A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can exist only until a majority of voters discover that they can vote themselves largess out of the public treasury.” -Alexander Tyler (1747-1813)

Science says, “Behavior is a function of its consequences.”

B = f(x). So it has been with this magnificent experiment in liberty known as the United States of America So it will be with Singapore.

References
1. de Montesquieu (1689-1755).  French lawyer, philosopher, and politician.
2. John Adams (1735-1826). American lawyer and 2nd President of the United States of America (1797-1801). Agreeing with James Madison, Adams stated that only pure religion and austere morals are capable of maintaining a republican form of government.
3. Samuel Adams (1722-1803). American revolutionary patriot. Adams played an early and crucial part in inciting a war to make the thirteen colonies a Christian country free from ties to England [See, for example, Stoll, I: Samuel Adams: A Life.  Old Tappan NJ: Free Press (2008)].
4. Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790). American statesman, philosopher, and inventor. With regard to religion as an integral thread in the new American fabric, during the Convention of 1787, for example, Franklin openly argued in favor of prayerful piety.
5. James Madison (1751-1836). American statesman, political theorist, and 4th President of the United States of America (1809-1817). Madison tried to create a balance between tyranny by an aristocratic class and tyranny by the mob, using one against the other — members of the House of Representatives were elected by popular vote; whereas, members of the Senate were elected by the legislatures of each State. Moreover, he was of the opinion that historically the only republics to enjoy any success were those that he characterized as puritanical republics.

 

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