Understanding Why Democracy is on the Decline
The ideal of cooperative governance has been baked into the minds and lives of nearly all American generations. Asking a cluster of average American young adults, “what is the highest American ideal?” will likely yield a common answer: democracy; and while the belief in American democracy is a misplaced ignorance, their desire for cooperation and for self governance falls in line with American tradition which began before America existed as a nation.
Indeed, there are few things more epistemologically American than a citizen’s involvement with the government. The right to vote was exemplary for other developing nations through the nineteenth and twentieth centuries; Americans have set the tone for the rest of the developing world.
Yet history shows that democracy lacks longevity. Self governance inescapably depends on the moral fiber of the people first, and the competence of the people second. A people who cannot moderate themselves certainly cannot govern themselves, much less be trusted to guide an entire nation. Moreover, fiscal responsibility like a muscle must be exercised often, with intentionality and determination.
News media companies such as The Washington Post embrace slogans such as “democracy dies in darkness,” which play into the common narrative that the real threats to democracy today are misinformation and social manipulation by large-scale capital players. It is a markedly progressive sentiment that the nature of man is such that a properly informed person will govern themselves and others responsibly.
By contrast, conservative rhetoric maintains that democracy is preserved by avoiding the new and redoubling loyalty to the familiar. This translates to extreme averseness towards the grand social upheavals that characterize the twenty first century: LGBT activism, surveillance states, gender identity restructuring, mass immigration and now vaccination-based value systems.
Without a consideration as to which of these ideologies bears more truth, it should be immediately apparent that there is a fundamental difference in philosophy. Progressive ideology states that man’s nature is basically good; conservative nature contends the opposite. These are completely irreconcilable differences, mutually exclusive without any chance of compromise; either people are completely depraved or they aren’t.
It seems that this fundamental difference has existed since the postmodern revolution in the 1960s, but the significance of the division has not manifested itself until recently. Historically, the nature of man has not been overtly important to policy making, especially with the policy concerns of centuries past. Instead, the recent convergence of individual identity politics and public policy has brought the nature of man to the forefront of the public consciousness, placing extreme stress on a fundamental, irreconcilable difference in perspective between the two major voting groups.
It is important to understand, neither group is willing to compromise on their view of man’s nature; and as political discord increases, so, too, does polarization.
To understand the complex intertwining of human nature philosophy and policy, consider the popular issues in the past five years alone.
- Police reform stances rely on whether or not people are friendly, basically good, self governing neighbors or potentially dangerous, untrustworthy free agents who need to be held accountable by a higher authority.
- The question of genderless restrooms depends on whether it is more important for people to express themselves as they please or to prevent predators from feeling welcome to entering the wrong restroom and preying on unaware victims.
- The issue of mass immigration depends on whether it is better to maintain our own national identity, prioritize immigrants by qualifications and scrutinize for deviants, or act as a welcoming refuge in the face of their own domestic turmoil.
- The issue of protesting is characterized either as the free demonstration of those who demand change, or violence, rioting and destruction in response to the democratic process not following a certain agenda.
- The vaccination issue requires that people either comply with a government agenda for the good of all society, or practice their own judgement to the potential detriment of their fellow man.
Each of these scenarios is based squarely on whether one may look at another human being as basically good with the potential to do evil, or basically evil with the potential to do good.
Since the election of President Biden, it seems that there is no shortage of distrust in the election process. Conservatives especially point out that there are series of demonstrable facts which indicates something conspicuous involved in the election process. Last-minute ballot discoveries, investigations which have positively indicated hacking and fraud, intimidation tactics, etc. Regardless of whether the election was won fairly, it is not a far stretch to say that there are millions of Americans who would willingly have made the choice to interfere only based on the extremity of their resentment for President Trump. It can also be said that there are millions more Americans who would willingly involve themselves in fraud to abdicate President Biden. Both sides would contend that the national consequences of either president are large enough to warrant a departure from the ideals of democracy towards despotism, if only to damage the opposing partisans.
The tangible evidence of fraud is secondary to the fact that so many Americans are willing to sacrifice democracy for partisanship. This lack of virtue is the first nail in the coffin of so many republic systems before the United States.
Oswald Spengler wrote in The Decline of the West that history follows a cyclical pattern. The early stages of a society are filled with virtue and the creation of culture. This continues until the people have achieved some certain objective and secure for themselves something that their society has based its existence on. After a tangible success, the culture development stagnates, and a society emerges which feeds on the culture, until it has devoured everything and all that remains is a hollow shell. At this point begins the turbulent age of Caesars, whose executive powers are necessary to maintain the unstable and dangerous whims of the people.
An age of Caesars may sound foreboding, yet Caesars themselves can be benevolent. Augustus Caesar fostered a golden age for his people, and although they craved decadence and vacuous materialism, they thrived. Similarly, Cincinnatus continues to be the epitome of a benevolent dictator: he arose to defend his people from a threat that only executive power could stop, and returned to his plow not even one day after victory.
Nevertheless, the age of Caesars brings with it the likes of Nero and Caligula, vile Caesars to match the vile hearts of their people. And while Americans may be the voice of democracy historically, there is a special sort of bipartisan nastiness that is corroding the very soul of the nation. Progressivism is one sickness that seeks to deface the identity of the United States, but it lives in comorbidity with another, deeper sickness which enables the decay in the first place: the departure from and blasphemy of the virtues which Christ himself embodied and commanded Christians to embody. The virtues that were present at the conception of the nation and led to it’s prosperity and becoming the Land of Opportunity. Without these, stagnation is unavoidable.
As the American culture was based on the goal of individual prosperity, this goal was reached with the consumerism success in the 1980s. Since then, there has been little development of American culture, and a great deal of American society that has stagnated. Progressivism has arisen in the wake of positive culture generation in favor of consuming culture to create a society outside the purview of what America used to be.
Progressive rhetoric might contend that people are basically good, but in rejecting Christian virtues as oppressive and outdated, progressivism creates a man who does not even presume to appear good. Watch the news and you’ll see what that means.