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Top Billing! Bruno Behrend –So This Is How Democracy Dies

How is this for a headline?

“Key Democrats call for Ending Democracy”

Some people subscribe to the idea that politicians are stupid. They shoot from the hip until reined in by their consultants during election season. There is probably a great deal of truth to that. On the other hand, the use of the “trial balloon” is a well-tested technique for gauging public reaction to an idea.

With that in mind, I submit today’s WSJ’s “Notable and Quotable” into evidence to let the jury decide.

“Most Americans complain that government is unresponsive to their wishes. But not everyone feels that way. In the space of two days, two prominent Democrats have called for less responsive government that ignores public input.

One of them, former White House Budget Director Peter Orszag, penned a piece this week in the New Republic arguing, as the title says, “Why we need less democracy.” Orszag wrote that “the country’s political polarization was growing worse-harming Washington’s ability to do the basic, necessary work of governing.” His solution? “[W]e need to minimize the harm from legislative inertia by relying more on automatic policies and depoliticized commissions for certain policy decisions. In other words, radical as it sounds, we need to counter the gridlock of our political institutions by making them a bit less democratic.” . . .

[S]imilar comments by Gov. Bev Perdue, D-N.C., are far more troubling. “I think we ought to suspend, perhaps, elections for Congress for two years and just tell them we won’t hold it against them, whatever decisions they make, to just let them help this country recover,” Perdue told a Rotary Club gathering in suburban Raleigh this week. “I really hope that someone can agree with me on that.”

Gaffe or Trial Balloon?

I’m in the trial balloon camp. I think the “Ruling Elite” (aptly described by Codevilla) wants to literally cut governance from “the consent of the governed.”

Democrat or Republican, inside government or outside, these rulers are in the process of turning most important decisions over to “depoliticized commissions,” and they simply don’t want any pesky citizens or constitutional barriers in their way. This class of people has a simple goal – to turn America’s “government of laws, not men,” on its head. They want to govern by edicts issued by commissions. I may be wrong, and I don’t want to appear overwrought, but I think this is (or should be) a big deal.

I am with Bruno. This generation of elite, which have shown themselves to be remarkably less competent and far more corrupt than their Cold War or WWII predecessors, are wistful for a velvet-gloved authoritarianism to help insulate themselves from democratic or legal accountability or even from hearing contrary opinions and criticism. It is amazing how our very best universities – Harvard, Yale and Princeton – produced so many alumni, in so short a period of time, who are disdainful of democracy and hold their fellow citizens in contempt.  Do the spirits of Carl Schmitt and Antonio Gramsci hold sway over undergrad education there or what?

Rethinking Security –Spectrum of Intervention and the Indirect Approach

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