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  • Who Needs Elections Anyways? - The Left's Distaste for Democracy

    “We might be a healthier democracy if we were a slightly less democratic one.” Really? Writing for the New Republic, Peter Orszag, Obama’s former head of the Office of Management and Budget, suggested that Americans need to transfer much of the operation of government out of the hands of Congress and into the hands of unelected bureaucrats.

    As a remedy to supposedly systemic gridlock, Orzsag proposes creating automatic boards of unelected administrators and “trigger” mechanisms that automatically set policy unless Congress specifically proposes an alternative. Orszag is not alone in raising doubts about democracy. North Carolina’s governor Bev Perdue raised eyebrows this week when she suggested suspending elections for a few terms so that congressmen would not have to worry about angering their constituents. President Obama has taken this advice to heart, relying on independent, unaccountable bureaucrats to implement the provisions of Obamacare and employing executive waivers to bypass Congress on educational reform.

    The Left’s distaste for democracy is hardly new. Since the early 20th century, progressives, notably Herbert Croly, have worked to restructure government into a largely unaccountable administrative state. The Administrative State is premised on the belief that unelected experts (presumed to be more ethical and unbiased) should be responsible for making policy—not the people’s elected representatives.

    But unlike earlier progressives, who were aware of the radical nature of their argument, today’s progressives attempt to present bureaucracy as flowing naturally from the Founders distrust of democracy. It is true that the Founder’s despised pure democracy—where all the people vote on every government measure. The Founders correctly perceived that pure democracy is unstable and overly susceptible to demagoguery. Their solution, however, was not to give control of the government to bureaucrats, but rather to establish a mixed republic with checks and balances and a separation of powers designed to ensure both proper deliberation and effective accountability.

    The Framers’ thoroughly unique system was carefully crafted to balance efficiency and stability.  To guard against hasty legislation unduly influenced by momentary passions, the Founders created a bicameral legislature designed to represent a multiplicity of interests: the dynamic House represents the interests of local communities while the more stable Senate represents the interests of the states. At the same time, the Framers’ vested executive power in a unitary executive able to efficiently and energetically enforce those laws passed by Congress. Finally, the judicial branch ensures that the rule of law is upheld at all times.

    As evidenced by its two century track record, America’s constitutional system is perfectly well designed to balance efficiency and accountability. That we now—as often in the past—have serious political disagreements is no reason to discard government accountability and allow more nameless, unelected bureaucrats to further control our lives.

    Posted in First Principles [slideshow_deploy]

    8 Responses to Who Needs Elections Anyways? - The Left's Distaste for Democracy

    1. …Against ALL enemies, foreign and DOMESTIC…

    2. AlexT says:

      Maybe we should start becoming less democratic by enacting voter ID laws.

      • I'm not sure if you were being sarcastic but voter ID laws add authenticity to the vote. I find it absurd to not have to verify you're the American citizen you claim to be when you vote.

    3. West Texan says:

      Mike said " … the dynamic House represents the interests of local communities while the more stable Senate represents the interests of the states. "

      Not all constitutional amendments are fair or productive. Social progressive demagogues stripped states of their national voice through the 17th amendment while exploiting the income of states' residents via the 16th amendment. 1913 was one heck of a power grabbing year that greatly undermined our founders' intended federalism. James Madison outlined well our country's dual sovereign design in federalist commentary number 45. Too bad he and others viewed the constitution as being tyrant proof. It obviously wasn't as demonstrated by the addition of a Bill of Rights (which justifiably has secured a status far beyond the title of amendments to that of original constitutional content).

    4. Bobbie says:

      this is outrageously threatening! admitted traitors to America! UNACCEPTABLE!!! America doesn't need bureaucrats, America needs FREEDOM BACK!!!!!

      political leaders HAVE TO BE accountable to their words and their incompetent actions!! this country needs corrective measures!! Americans are WORTH MORE then this!!!…and shouldn't be FORCED to accept THIS!!

      IGNORANCE is not going to keep this country from collapsing as democrats rely solely on IGNORANCE!! PLEASE STOP LETTING THEM GET AWAY WITH THEIR STRATEGIC DEMISE!!

    5. James Dunn says:

      Peter Orszag and Bev Perdue would do well to read Federalist #10 to understand that it's not the cause of factions that should be controlled but the effects. It is only because our federal gov't has been changed some much to no longer properly control the effects of faction that now people are wanting to limit the causes of factions. The issue with trying to remove the causes of factions is best explained by Madison:

      "There are two methods of curing the mischiefs of faction: the one, by removing its causes; the other, by controlling its effects. There are again two methods of removing the causes of faction: the one, by destroying the liberty which is essential to its existence; the other, by giving to every citizen the same opinions, the same passions, and the same interests."

      I'm never going to think like Peter Orszag and Bev Perdue and that shouldn't be a reason to lose my liberty.

    6. Justin says:

      Someone needs to explain why the left believes that unelected bureacrats who have been labled 'experts' are no longer suceptible to the same temptations of being human that plague elected officials. Our founders understood that no man is perfect, and in fact when it comes to making rules for other people, most men become far too impressed with their own power and judgement. If the corruption of power is something that plagues all men, why would vesting such power in the unelected be more wise than in the elected? The essence of our political system is accountability.

    7. Justin says:

      The capacity to expres your approval or disapproval of a public power wielder in our society is the only thing that makes the exercise of their power legitimate. Consent of the governered is what allows for legitimate legislation, and consent can never be achieved when unelected, unaccountable, but still fallible 'experts' hold the reigns of power. When the federal government does so much, I agree that expert opinions should be utilized as a resource for our Congressmen and Senators when they craft legislation. But that legislation needs to be created through the proper channels, that way when government no longer matches the preferences of the citizenry, there is accountability for citizens to vent frustration.

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