FRONT PAGE CONTRIBUTOR
Rand Paul (accurately) notes that Jim Crow was a majoritarian policy, too.
I am probably quite a bit too neoconservative for Senator Paul’s liking, but: no fear.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), in an interview Thursday, likened President Obama’s governing philosophy to the kind of “majority rule” that led to Jim Crow laws and Japanese internment camps.
“The danger to majority rule — to him sort of thinking, well, the majority voted for me, now I’m the majority, I can do whatever I want, and that there are no rules that restrain me — that’s what gave us Jim Crow,” Paul said. “That’s what gave us the internment of the Japanese — that the majority said you don’t have individual rights, and individual rights don’t come from your creator, and they’re not guaranteed by the Constitution. It’s just whatever the majority wants.”
(H/T: Hot Air Headlines) I’ll add the Trail of Tears and our abysmal treaty history with Native Americans to that one, too. The central problem for democracy has always been what happens when 54% of the voters, say, want to do something horrible to the other 46%*. The Founders – mindful of the story of Socrates, and those of mob rule in the Roman Empire** – put up a bunch of roadblocks to that; and it’s no accident that the USA still remains a place where ‘a contested election’ does not mean ‘firefights in the streets.’ That the entire thing sounds absurd – which it is not; violent power changes are the norm throughout human history – show the power of the concept that our current President so unthinkingly disparages.
Let me lock that ‘unthinkingly’ down, by the way. I do not say that Barack Obama wishes to set up a dictatorship, as modern people define the term. I do say that his behavior would be instantly recognizable to people of the Hellenistic period: President Obama wishes to rule, and to have his decrees backed up by the loud, riotous approval of the Mob***. We are fortunate that our current educational system is only poor by our own standards; that the President himself lacks the charisma that the successful Classical-era Tyrants relied upon; that, as a direct result of the first two points, any Mob that the President could generate would be more of a bunch of cyber-street protesters than an actual populist movement; and, finally, that basic republican structures are still in place in this country, with a critical percentage of Obama’s own Democrats being unwilling to change them.
But none of this excuses the President for not doing his technical reading. You’d think that somebody who made ‘public service’ his career path could be counted on to at least do a private survey of the history of government…
Moe Lane (crosspost)
*Although it’s usually more like that they want to do something horrible to, say, a subgroup of the 46%.
**If you are thinking of that Thomas Jefferson quote, alas: it is almost certainly bunk. And probably anti-Bush agitprop, at that (2004 was a period where the GOP controlled both the White House and Congress).
***No, not the Mafia.