Friday, July 24, 2009

What is this "Tyranny Closing In"?

Source The Weekly Standard, 7/13/09

I have shown in a number of blogs here that tyranny is closing in on America. See nationalizing health and food, illegalizing dissension, squashing investigations, university leftism, unlimited preventative detention, and blog censorship.

What then is this tyranny as a government? I am, after all, a political scientist. In the context of my blogs, this is a most important question. What is this “closing in”?

First, note that there are two kinds of democracy -- electoral and liberal (in the sense of traditional liberalism). Electoral democracies have a near universal franchise, regular competitive and fair elections where voters can kick the “bastards” out of office. Liberal democracies are electoral democracies that also recognize human rights, such as freedom of speech, religion, organization, and the rule of law. As of 2008, there were 121 electoral democracies in the world, 90 of which were liberal democracies, such as Andorra, Cyprus, Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Mongolia, Nauru, Palau, South Africa, Uruguay, and the usually named Anglo-American and European democracies. Non-liberal electoral democracies include Bolivia, Guatemala, Liberia, Macedonia, Niger, Senegal, Suriname, and Turkey. (The source on the numbers and countries is the Freedom House Freedom IN The World 2008)

Now, tyranny is a negative term for governments that are undesirable from a democratic perspective. So dictatorships, fascist regimes, totalitarian systems—as were Nazism (Germany 1933-1945), Fascism (Italy, 1922-1944) communism (Soviet Union 1917-1991)—, absolute monarchies (Saudi Arabia), and military regimes (Japan, 1936-1945) are all tyrannies. Of course, we are nowhere near any such regimes. “Tyranny closing in on America” means the human rights we enjoy in our electoral democracy are becoming seriously compromised -- loss of much of our freedom of speech (just consider political correctness, hate crime laws, and the cost of criticizing Islam), religion (which already must bow to leftist secularism), and the increasing unfree market.

With our democracy gradually losing its liberal character, there looms the growing possibility of a one-party government where we can forget about fair political competition. One party control of the major avenues to power (as in Iran, Venezuela, and former communist countries) means fraudulent elections or referenda.

The power the Democratic Party now -- 72 million registered members versus 55 for the Republicans; its strong support among Blacks, Hispanics, homosexuals, employed women, and other minorities; its dominance of college faculty, the major media, labor, and the entertainment industry; 256 seats in the House versus 178 for Republicans; and a 60 seat filibuster proof majority in the Senate—could be fertile ground for a dictatorship. A war, a profound national security threat, a deep socio-economic crisis at home could provide the rationale to take over the country. One thing, and only one thing, would constrain this. It is the deep tradition of freedom in America as well as in the Democratic Party, the heir of classic liberalism for many of its members. This tradition limited the fascism of Presidents Wilson and Franklin D. Roosevelt and their Democratic Congresses during World War I and the Great Depression. Despite the power they and Congress had then, elections proceeded normally and fairly.

Our liberal democratic culture still exists. Judging by the alternative media, such as blogs, talk radio, and networking groups, it is healthy and active. But tyranny is closing in. Beware.

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