Is Democracy in a Death Spiral?

By Pat Buchanan

Flag Burning
Is Democracy in a Death Spiral?
Pat Buchanan
Patrick J .Buchanan

USA –  -(  “You all start with the premise that democracy is some good. I don't think it's worth a damn. Churchill is right. The only thing to be said for democracy is that there is nothing else that's any better. …

“People say, ‘If the Congress were more representative of the people it would be better.' I say Congress is too damn representative. It's just as stupid as the people are, just as uneducated, just as dumb, just as selfish.”

This dismissal of democracy, cited by historian H. W. Brands in “The General vs. the President: MacArthur and Truman at the Brink of Nuclear War,” is attributed to that great populist Secretary of State Dean Acheson.

Few would air such views today, as democracy has been divinized.

Indeed, for allegedly hacking the Clinton campaign and attacking “our democracy,” Vladimir Putin has been condemned to the ninth circle of hell. Dick Cheney and John McCain have equated Moscow's mucking around in our sacred democratic rituals to an “act of war.”

Yet democracy seems everywhere to be losing its luster.

Among its idealized features is the New England town meeting. There, citizens argued, debated, decided questions of common concern.

Town hall meetings today recall a time when folks came out to mock miscreants locked in stocks in the village square. Congressmen returning to their districts in Holy Week were shouted down as a spectator sport. A Trump rally in Berkeley was busted up by a mob. The university there has now canceled an appearance by Ann Coulter.

Charles Murray, whose books challenge conventional wisdom about the equality of civilizations, and Heather Mac Donald, who has documented the case that hostility to cops is rooted in statistical ignorance, have both had their speeches violently disrupted on elite campuses.

In Washington, our two-party system is in gridlock. Comity and collegiality are vanishing. Across Europe, centrist parties shrink as splinter parties arise and “illiberal democracies” take power.

Russia and China, which have embraced autocratic capitalism, have attracted admirers and emulators by the seeming success of their strongman rule.

President Trump, seeing the way the world is going, welcomes to the White House Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi, whose army dumped over the elected government and jailed thousands.

Following a disputed referendum that granted President Recep Tayyip Erdogan near-dictatorial powers, Trump phoned his congratulations to the Turkish autocrat. It was Erdogan who described democracy as a bus you get off when it reaches your stop.

Why is liberal democracy, once hailed as the future of mankind, in a deepening bear market? First, Acheson was not all wrong.

When George W. Bush declared that the peoples of the Middle East should decide their future in democratic elections, Lebanon chose Hezbollah, the Palestinians chose Hamas, the Egyptians the Muslim Brotherhood. The first two are U.S.-designated terrorist groups, as members of Congress wish to designate the third. Not an auspicious beginning for Arab democracy.

In Sunday's election in France, a Communist-backed admirer of Hugo Chavez, Jean-Luc Melenchon, and the National Front's Marine Le Pen could emerge as the finalists on May 7 2017.

Democracy is increasingly seen as a means to an end, not an end in itself. If democracy doesn't deliver, dispense with it.

Democracy's reputation also suffers from the corruption and incompetence of some of its celebrated champions.

The South African regime of Jacob Zuma, of Nelson Mandela's ANC, faces a clamor for his resignation. Brazil's Dilma Rousseff was impeached in August. South Korean President Park Geun-hye has been removed and jailed for corruption. Venezuela's Hugo Chavez was elected president four times.

In Federalist No. 2, John Jay called us a “band of brethren” and “one united people” who shared the same ancestors, language, religion, principles, manners, customs.

Seventy years later, the brethren went to war with one another, though they seem to have had more in common in 1861 than we do today.

Forty percent of Americans now trace their ancestral roots to Latin America, Asia and Africa. The Christian component of the nation shrinks, as the numbers of Muslims, Hindu, atheists, agnostics grow. We have two major languages now. Scores of other languages are taught in schools.

Not only do we disagree on God, gays and guns, but on politics and ideology, morality and faith, right and wrong. One-half of America sees the other as “a basket of deplorables. … racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic … bigots.”

How, outside an external attack that unites us, like 9/11, do we find unity among people who dislike each other so much and regard each other's ideas and ideals as hateful and repellent?

Democracy requires common ground on which all can stand, but that ground is sinking beneath our feet, and democracy may be going down the sinkhole with it.

Where liberals see as an ever-more splendid diversity of colors, creeds, ethnicities, ideologies, beliefs and lifestyles, the Right sees the disintegration of a country, a nation, a people, and its replacement with a Tower of Babel.

Visions in conflict that democracy cannot reconcile.


Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of the new book “The Greatest Comeback: How Richard Nixon Rose From Defeat to Create the New Majority.

  • 20 thoughts on “Is Democracy in a Death Spiral?

    1. America has seen turmoil throughout its history: riots, marches, political upheaval, political and social suppression of rights, vigilante justice…the list goes on. Our nation is a Republic based in democratic principals. As such, the power of governance originally was placed into the hands of the governed, with elected representatives of the People positioned to act upon the Will of the People. We claim to practice democracy, and perhaps we do; but many tend to think of democracy as an orderly progression and exchange of ideas. It is not. As Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor pointed out “The freedom to criticize judges and other public officials is necessary to a vibrant democracy. The problem comes when healthy criticism is replaced with more destructive intimidation and sanctions.” It seems we have employed more of the “destructive intimidation and sanctions” in recent months than an order exchange of ideas. Should these acts of intimidation become so commonplace as to suppress the natural rights of Man and in particular the Bill of Rights so carefully preserved for us, then we will have allowed the predicted destruction of the Republic and permitted it to be replaced by tryanny.

    2. I Agree there is a time, a place, a method, and a reason to burn the American flag. A demonstration is not the place. Yes I understand it has been declared a form of free speech, probably in the ninth circus court.

    3. We were created as a Republic, not a democracy. In a democracy majority rules. In a Republic, the Rule of Law prevails. Of course Lincoln destroyed the Republic where the government and corporations became sovereign instead of the people. But we can still fight for it.

    4. Debate all you want; eventually it all comes down to how large and determined your army is versus how large and determined theirs is. The Left fights for keeps and is not above inviting invaders into the country as allies to their cause. In this (for now) political warfare we must fight and not surrender, and certainly we must not allow the bullying tactics of the Left and Media (same thing) to deter us.

    5. Unfortunately, the late Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev was apparently correct when he predicted, several decades (about 2 generations) ago, that our “grandchildren will be raised as Communists.” This is now occurring, largely because we have allowed our schools to stop teaching American History and Civics effectively, by which I mean, with the aim of instilling national pride and belief in the Republican form of government (which was the original rationale for requiring our children to attend government schools), and a sense of civic obligation, along with our national history. Today we are more likely to applaud individuals who find ways to shirk their civic obligations, like military service, jury duty, and paying taxes, rather than those who honor them. We no longer teach our kids anything about the basic beliefs of “Americanism,” the political philosophy on which our Republic is founded, nor do we emphasize all the good that America has done in the world. Rather, we now seem to teach primarily the bad things America has done in the past, and the problems we faced, rather than emphasizing the solutions we found. I do not suggest that we shouldn’t teach about the bad things, but on balance, they are far outweighed by the good things, and we ought to be teaching THAT too – as far as I can tell, we are not. In a recent discussion with my local Barista, he said Reagan was the President who forced millions of mentally ill people out of hospitals and onto the streets (with no idea at all of why that occurred or exactly what actually happened). When I mentioned “winning the Cold War,” he said he was taught about that too, but it wasn’t really very important, because it didn’t really affect anything in the country. Keep in mind that this is a gentleman who has completed 12 years of public school and then attended college, all in the United States.
      We have allowed the anti-American socialism, so popular with the hippies in the ’60s, to take over what we teach our children, our schools have embraced those values, and we have allowed increasingly socialist leadership to govern our country. Hence, we are now reaping the “rewards,” just as Khrushchev predicted.
      Can this still be turned around? I don’t know. I suspect that it cannot be done without a violent revolution within the USA, and violent revolutions most commonly do not result in good “Americanist” governments, being put in place – they are more likely to result in establishment of totalitarian dictatorships. Ronald Reagan thought that Freedom was only a generation away from extinction, and it looks like that generation has now passed. So perhaps we are now sitting idly by and watching the end of the “Great Experiment” that was America. Reagan may also have been right about our sitting around one day, telling our grandchildren what it used to be like in America when we were free.

    6. democracy |diˈmäkrəsē|
      noun (pl. democracies)
      a system of government by the whole population or all the eligible members of a state, typically through elected representatives

      republic |riˈpəblik|
      a state in which supreme power is held by the people and their elected representatives, and which has an elected or nominated president rather than a monarch.

    7. How come it / we are now a democracy? What happened to our Republic? They are different but a lot of folks use them interchangeably as the same. The plan has worked, Dummy down our young, so they become good working drones. And yes I agree the burning flag botched me as well.

      1. We are a Constitutional Republic my friends. That is American history that is not being taught in school, instead they spend time.learning all the different “genders” and proper pronouns. What have we come to? As my eyes swell up with tears……..

      2. Constitutional, representative, REPUBLIC! Only those with an agenda, or out of pure ignorance, call this country an DEMOCRACY. It isn’t, it wasn’t, and it never should be.

    8. I concur with Truckbuddy. A picture of a burning flag doesn’t do my blood pressure any good. Or serve a valid purpose. But Buchanan was SPOT on as usual. American has come to a fork in the road. And she best better take it. Or, a LOT of else.

    9. Amen, SuperG.

      BTW, can we PLEASE not put up photos of burning American flags? If the desire was to anger the reader, it works, but not in a way that would go well for the writer or publisher.

    10. The problem can be summed up with one word…incumbents. The definition of insanity is to do something over and over and expect a different result every time. We demonstrate our insanity by re-electing the same people over and over, then wonder why we see no change. There are people still sitting in Congress that were around when sliced bread was invented. Unless the Congressional toilet of incumbents is flushed, we are doomed.

      1. The real and absolute insanity is”WAY TOO MANY IGNORANT AMERICAN PEOPLE THINK THEY LIVE IN A DEMOCRACY!! THEY ARE TOO DAMN STUPID TO REALIZE “THE UNITED STATES of AMERICA IS A REPUBLIC.In a Republic , no three like minded Assholes can impose their will on you just because there is only “ONE of YOU!! YOU CAN KICK THEIR A**ES BLOODY RAW AND TELL THEM TO STICK THEIR DEMOCRACY UP THEIR BUTT!!!

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