By Thomas E. Brewton
Former President Jimmy Carter and presidential candidate Christopher Dodd believe that the mechanics of the ballot box sanitize a victorious dictator.
The Wall Street Journal editorialized, in its January 17, 2007 edition, about the worrisome economic and political coalition of Iran, Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua, and Cuba.
In passing they noted, "All the while, [Venezuelan dictator] Mr. Chávez has had American enablers who excused his growing repression, or blamed it on a reaction to U.S. policy. Foremost among them has been Mr. Dodd, who has defended Mr. Chávez as 'democratically elected' despite his clear trend toward authoritarianism. In 2004, the circumstances surrounding a recall referendum were so anti-democratic that the European Union refused to act as an observer. Jimmy Carter nonetheless blessed the outcome amid heavy irregularities, and the U.S. State Department endorsed the process."
Hitler's National Socialist German Workers Party, let's remember, came to power via the democratic and legitimate process of winning enough votes to gain control of the Reichstag.
The point is that the truly important determinant of a good political society is, not the mechanics of electing leaders, but the moral culture that shapes citizens' understanding of the right thing to do. And the atheistic materialism of liberal-socialistic-progressivism has failed miserably in sustaining a public philosophy of individual right conduct.
This readiness of liberal Democrats and Republicans to endorse leaders who oppress their own people and openly avow their enmity toward the United States is explainable as a facet of their liberal-progressive paradigm of social justice.
Beginning in the late 19th century, Progressive politicians and academics became dissatisfied with the state of American society and looked longingly toward the giant strides of Bismarck's German Empire in education, chemistry, physics, and medicine. Progressives attributed Germany's rapid progress both to its strong leadership by Bismarck, and to the dominance of the German Socialist party, which was the largest and most influential in Europe.
Progressivism in this country was an amalgam of socialistic doctrine transplanted from Europe and a widespread confidence in the science and engineering that had transformed the United States after the Civil War into the world's largest and fastest growing economy. In politics, Progressives were preoccupied with structural reforms, ranging from secret ballot in elections, to citizens' referenda on tax and policy matters. They also believed that businesses and government ought to be run by professional managers.
Progressivism was an odd combination of this faith in civil and social engineers as the experts competent to run government, coupled with a misreading of the French Revolution as an upwelling of democracy achieved by eradicating existing government, religion, and social customs. These elements were, and remain, incompatible. To the extent that government is ceded to liberal social engineers who aim to regulate all aspects of citizens' economic choices, it moves inexorably along the road to tyranny.
Progressivism's rationalization of this contradiction has been that the role of the masses, empowered via the ballot box, is to elect expert social engineers. Then governing is to be left to the state planners, who know better than the ordinary citizen what is good for him.
Thus we find Messrs. Carter and Dodd sympathetically inclined toward socialistic leaders ratified by the mechanics of the ballot box by voters who have no historical tradition of a society of laws, but only of government by men who dictate the law.
Thomas E. Brewton is a staff writer for the New Media Alliance, Inc. The New Media Alliance is a non-profit (501c3) national coalition of writers, journalists and grass-roots media outlets. His weblog is The View From 1776. Email comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.