Joshua Behrens, The Heights’ resident Bernie Sanders cheerleader, wrote an astonishing piece yesterday, one about which all advocates for those American virtues of liberty and self-government should be angered. Though I have no desire to get myself again entangled in something like the relentless back-and-forth inspired by my LTEs on race issues earlier this year, Mr. Behrens’s piece is so extraordinary that I can’t help but write.
Mr. Behrens admits that “the founding fathers did not plan for us to have a democracy,” for which I suppose I can be thankful. Many individuals erroneously but unapologetically believe that the United States is a democracy and hold to “Democracy! Unchecked democracy! Democracy everywhere and always!” These people evidently do not value the virtue of prudent restraint, but maybe that is to be expected. Fine—Mr. Behrens agrees with us that the framers of our Constitution never intended a democracy. Yet his claim is even more offensive to the American spirit, I think, than the absurd belief that the United States is an unrestrained democracy (just so you know, our country is a constitutional republic with some democratic elements), so beloved of others of his progressive-liberal-radical bent.
Succinctly, he believes that, yes, the framers did not want democracy—and so the framers were wrong. The American’s mental warning-bells should be ringing like crazy here. So the Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights were wrong? The old argument for democracy grounded it, however erroneously, on our Constitution. The new argument, Mr. Behrens’s, grounds it on chucking the Constitution out the window and letting wild jackals eat the poor old thing.
Saying that the rest of Mr. Behrens’s argument is nonsensical is offensive to nonsensical arguments. We have to chuck the Constitution because it has created an “oligarchy” ruled by money (begging the question of “Why stop at socialism? Why don’t we go on to full-on Soviet communism, Mr. Behrens? Would that make you happy?”). He cites one Princeton study and claims that it “empirically” establishes something that cannot be empirically established, namely that the U.S. is in fact this oligarchy that he so greatly dreads. He then briefly sketches a look into this year’s presidential election, mounting a democratic defense of his beloved Sanders and warning about that opaque and apparently omnipotent “establishment” (could somebody please give me a good definition?).
Mr. Behrens does not believe in the founders’ republic. He wants a democracy. Well, Mr. Behrens, the founders experienced a near-democracy under the Articles of Confederation. It was a disaster. The Jacobins in France and the Bolsheviks in Russia slaughtered and destroyed nations in the sainted name of unrestrained democracy. (Might I suggest reading Burke?) We need to preserve and conserve, not destroy, our (small-r) republican values. We are either the last, best hope for the earth, Mr. Behrens, or else we go out into the final darkness, screaming hopeless platitudes about “Equality,” “Democracy,” and “Progress,” and not with a bang but with a whimper.
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