Democracy’s Folly

Alexis de Tocqueville wrote “A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship.

At his Democratic National Convention speech in 1984, Walter Mondale said to a stunned America, “Let’s tell the truth. It must be done, it must be done. Mr. Reagan will raise taxes, and so will I. He won’t tell you. I just did”. In the election, Mondale went on to lose the largest Democratic landslide loss in history winning only the District of Columbia and his home state of Minnesota.

In the absense of a winning strategy for jobs, which NEITHER party yet comes close to presenting, who would Tocqueville and Mondale say will win the 2012 election? The Republicans say they will cut everyone’s taxes while the Democrats will raise taxes for some. The Democrats then say the Republican’s plan doesn’t add up, that they must be planning to raise taxes, cut deductions or balloon the debt. But Tocqueville says so what! Both parties say the other will raise taxes. Will the clutter ever become clearer? What is clear is that both parties are attempting to tag each other with the Mondale card.

Tocqueville’s observation was right about the weakness of democracy. We are all secretly weighing this election through the prism of it’s cost to us personally and party politics will pay billions to pander to our selfish motives. Will the selfish promise of lower taxes and more services win out over a noble call of sacrificing for the next generation. Most likely….

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Filed under American Governance, American Politics

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