So said Winston Churchill who then added the punch line: “…except for all the others.”  An accompanying American colloquialism is: “If you like laws or sausages, never watch either one being made.”  Any doubts about either of these observations should be erased by current developments in both the Middle East and in Madison, Wisconsin.

A lot of people in the Middle East are rising up to overthrow autocratic governments and in some cases, as in Libya, sacrificing their lives to do so.  Whether what follows in the several upheavals underway comes to resemble democracy of any hue remains to be seen.  Struggles for power have begun, struggles involving the military, religious factions, entrenched wealth, and the lifeblood of much of the region–oil.

There are lessons to be learned meanwhile about the limits of power, in this case American power.  Were we as powerful as some believe, both here and elsewhere, we would play a dominant role in the outcome of these struggles.  No doubt we have interests.  Sadly, oil from the Persian Gulf, and militarily the Fifth Fleet base in Bahrain.  Except for trying to identify the winners, and encouraging them to be democrats, however, there is little we can do to shape the outcomes.

Meanwhile, in Washington and Madison, and soon in many other State capitols around the country we are seeing democracy in action with street demonstrations that don’t look all that much different from Cairo and other cities.  Democracy is easy when the economic pie is growing.  It begins to creak and crack, however, when the pie is shrinking.

The struggle here is whether we will return to a pre-New Deal America with many fewer ladders of opportunity, safety nets for the poor and elderly, and regulatory protections for consumers, workers, and the environment.  That is really what this endless political struggle in American regarding the size and role of government is about.  There is some evidence to support the theory that the unstated purpose behind so-called “supply side” tax cuts was to create such huge deficits that the domestic role of government would have to return to the age of Herbert Hoover and Calvin Coolidge.  Two endless wars have not helped in this regard.

Hold on to your seats.  For we are entering a period when we will find out how strong American democracy really is…and what our values really are.  When the tea party gets the kind of government it claims to want, few Americans are going to like it.  But then, of course, we will have to start our struggle for justice and fairness all over again.

12 Responses to “Democracy is the Worst Form of Government”

  1. Debbie Lackowitz Says:

    So true Gary. I’ve too been watching Madison Wisconsin with great interest. And soon a whole swath of our states are gonna be embroiled in this. What will the outcome be? Well here’s something interesting. Over the weekend, the ‘tea partiers’ came out. But guess what? The State Workers overwhelmed them! By a LOT. Mr. Walker and his Republican cohorts out there say they have support from the people ‘out there’. What DOES that mean? Those ‘out there’ didn’t show up, did they? Actually, no they didn’t. And what about the courageous Democrats that walked out defiantly. THEY deserve our support too! Are we willing to go back to the ‘gilded age’ of Hoover and Coolidge? Some are, apparently. And I don’t think they are gonna be happy with the results either. Unfortunately, it’s gonna HAVE to play itself out. Who will win? Hopefully NOT the ‘bad guys’! I for one am going to be buying a pizza for them this afternoon! I can’t be with them, but I certainly can help feed them!

  2. Steve Says:

    Thank you for your support of our efforts in Wisconsin. Ameican democracy and the survival of the middle-class are ultimately at stake here now and across the nation. I’ll be at the protest rally in Madison on Wednesday and we will be heard.

  3. Curtis Mulkey Says:

    Not really much new to say, it has all been said before,( 67 years ago);
    (Last few paragraphs)-
    Jan 11, 1944 State of the Union address by Franklin Delano Roosevelt
    This Republic had its beginning, and grew to its present strength, under the protection of certain inalienable political rights—among them the right of free speech, free press, free worship, trial by jury, freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures. They were our rights to life and liberty.
    As our Nation has grown in size and stature, however—as our industrial economy expanded—these political rights proved inadequate to assure us equality in the pursuit of happiness.
    We have come to a clear realization of the fact that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. “Necessitous men are not free men.” People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made.
    In our day these economic truths have become accepted as self-evident. We have accepted, so to speak, a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all regardless of station, race, or creed.
    Among these are:
    The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the Nation;
    The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;
    The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living;
    The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad;
    The right of every family to a decent home;
    The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health;
    The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment;
    The right to a good education.
    All of these rights spell security. And after this war is won we must be prepared to move forward, in the implementation of these rights, to new goals of human happiness and well-being.
    America’s own rightful place in the world depends in large part upon how fully these and similar rights have been carried into practice for our citizens. For unless there is security here at home there cannot be lasting peace in the world.
    One of the great American industrialists of our day—a man who has rendered yeoman service to his country in this crisis-recently emphasized the grave dangers of “rightist reaction” in this Nation. All clear-thinking businessmen share his concern. Indeed, if such reaction should develop—if history were to repeat itself and we were to return to the so-called “normalcy” of the 1920’s—then it is certain that even though we shall have conquered our enemies on the battlefields abroad, we shall have yielded to the spirit of Fascism here at home.
    I ask the Congress to explore the means for implementing this economic bill of rights- for it is definitely the responsibility of the Congress so to do. Many of these problems are already before committees of the Congress in the form of proposed legislation. I shall from time to time communicate with the Congress with respect to these and further proposals. In the event that no adequate program of progress is evolved, I am certain that the Nation will be conscious of the fact.
    Our fighting men abroad- and their families at home- expect such a program and have the right to insist upon it. It is to their demands that this Govern

  4. Jim Engelking Says:

    Thanks for reminding all of us, Curtis. Now is the time for us to remind others who are not recently familiar with FDR’s words. The extremists and corporatists want to destroy everything FDR did, and return the rest of us to wage slaves, beholden to the bosses, who may act at their whims. They want to divide and conquer the working middle class. They are the vast minority of Americans, so dividing us is their best weapon. They will fail.

    We understand that all Americans are our brothers and sisters. We know that when we stand together we are undeterred and unconquerable. We honor work and workers, union or nonunion, public or private employer. Our democracy works when we see ourselves in our neighbor, when we see the humanity in each other. It is up to each of us to make sure it works.

    I’ll be looking for you on the West steps of the capitol at noon tomorrow, Gary. It should be a great rally in solidarity with the workers in WI, in CO, and all across our great nation. The teabaggers are trying to organize disruptions, as they did with 2009 town hall meetings, so there may be some theater of the absurd for the TV cameras. That’s easier than reporting the substance, so perfect for the opiate of the masses. Cheers. Jim

  5. Rick DeNatale Says:

    The tea parties make much of patterning themselves after the American Revolution. However I think that our situation is becoming more and more like the French Revolution.

    Louis XVI lost his kingdom and his head because the first and second estates (the Clergy and the rich aristocracy) lived off the fat of the land, throwing obscenely expensive parties, hunted on vast estates, and paid almost no taxes, because they put the burden of paying to run the country, and several wars, including their support for our Revolution (because “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”) on the third estate (the lower classes). The struggle of the lower class just to feed themselves intensified until the revolution was inevitable.

    Today we have the tea party, ironically named after an event which came about because the British government removed the tax on Tea imported into the colonies by the East India Company, therefore making the product of certain merchants who had made a good business of underselling the ‘official’ tea with lower quality but cheaper goods. One of these merchants was Sam Adams one of the primary leaders of the tea party.

    Now Sam Adams has been replaced by the Koch brothers and their ilk, and power to the ‘people’ has devolved to those artificial ‘people’ called corporations, we have gradually become a plutocracy. The plutocrats control the media and the echo chamber, and the tea party members regurgitate mantras like “The richest 5% of Americans pay 65% of the taxes,” which sounds unfair until you realize that the richest 5% have something like 70% of the income, and a far greater proportion of the total wealth.

    The budget shortfall in Wisconsin is about the same amount as the tax revenue lost when Governor Walker cut corporate taxes. Very much like pre-revolutionary France the autocrats are taking money from the poor to pay the rich.

    If Dick Armey, the Koch brothers, Rupert Murdoch, Roger Ailes, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Frank Luntz and their ilk were alive in late 18th century France and been able to control the discussion like they do today in America, King Louis’ descendants would still be on the Bourbon throne.

  6. Americulchie Says:

    We must do all we can to save the reforms of the New Deal;without a doubt we are living in dangerous times in this country.We as a people made tremendous strides in the day of FDR and to go back on them would be the death of democracy in these United States.

  7. John Montgomery Says:

    Who are these Silly Politicians and People Out There, that are willing to vote against their own best interests, for a false ideology that sends all the wealth and power of the nation to the wealthiest of our citizens to the detriment of themselves in the long run, and many of there friends and families as well. They remind me of the gunslinger that shoots himself in the foot!

    We must stand up to the tea partiers and right-wing conservative who are bound and determined to turn the United States into a third world country for the benefit of a very few!

  8. MinerSam Says:

    —Democracy is not only messy but requires hard **WORK**And 2 TO TANGO!!!

    This is about the **LAZY** Republicans (of the Gas & Oil Party) –who Thrive on an ignorant electorate — with help from a Media they control and their brainwashed millions) fighting 24/7 for Anarchy & Predatory Standards for their benefactor corporations, In Parallel with dictatorship against We The People of the United States!

    When they control the White House (which they have in 8 of the last 11.5 administrations — House & Senate 12 of the last 17 years) They believe
    in Unitary Executive Power. But when they don’t then erroneous attacks and State Rights (to discriminate, our freedoms and reducing the Standard of Living of Americans) is the order of the day!

    Meanwhile they blame the Democrats for what they perpetrate upon us (Since fact be fact **90% of the debt we are in was wracked up by the Republicans) AND whenever possible they DESTROY our very Democracy. As happened when they sent Paid Aids on the Enron Plane (their largest contributor) to riot outside the Popular Vote recount Room, prior to their appointees on the Supreme Court superseding the Rights of the Florida Supreme Court (which ordered a recount) so they could appoint their Cheney/W/Rove Team…to continue their DESTRUCTION of the Agencies of We The People Pay to protect our interests (So predatoriness may commence).

    Difficult or Not Democracy takes 2 to Tango. But our country only 1 Party that Represents We The People. While the Gas & Oil Party and those who fund them continue our 30 years march into the arms of IL Duce.

    The cousins of “W” tell it this way: Whenever Bush lost the game he would take the ball and leave them standing there. He didn’t need Ayan Rand as
    some of his buddies do.

    Their Destruction of the SEC, CFTC, FTC === Financial Meltdown.
    Katrina = Their destruction of FEMA and filibustering Clinton’s Infrastructure Bill which would have long ago repaired the Levees.
    Destruction of MMMS == Oil Spill, Outsourcing == Republicans make it tax
    deductible to close your factory in Ohio and unpack it in China, Moronic Stem Cell Policy == 800 Research labs moved to China Defunding Basic Science and Mocking Investment in our Future (While the Republican controlled Media avoids the subject entirely) and Lies/Brainwashing about the impact of Climate Change Pollution == The Dumming Down of America while Every tragedy we endure was caused by the implementation of Republican Ideology of Lunatics, Liars and Looters.

    Its about abandoning 300Million in favor of 2.5Billion elsewhere and cheap labor. With our very Democracy in danger!

    Sometimes I wonder if you don’t get it how will people busy with their lives who are not psychic get it. This is not an ordinary mess Our Quality of life and future Hangs in the Balance and Americans vote against their own interests.

    Hamas & Hezbolah is to Iran == what the Tea Party is to The Republicans (A Weapon through brainwashing working against its own interests and its future).

  9. Neal Taslitz, Esq. Says:

    I believe the labor strike at the Kohler plant in Wisconsin was the longest strike on record in the U.S. Even though the Kohler strike was decades ago, it is important to keep in mind in reaching a quick and fair solution to the current situation.

    I believe workers in Wisconsin and others, who have now become the “working poor”, will organize much faster than they have been able to in the past, and will not be denied a safe working environment, and fair pay for their work.

    As you and Janis Joplin once said: “Freedom is just another word for nothing else to lose.”

  10. Brian C. McCarthy Says:

    Reagan’s budget director David Stockman basically admitted that the purpose of supply-side economics was to break the bank to starve New Deal and Great Society programs to death. The purpose and effect of the Bush tax cuts was much the same. Too many Democrats either capitulated or consented by silence, which unfortunately is something the Democrats have done on far too many issues for the last 30 or so years. What we see happen every time the Republicans come to power (1980, 1994, 2010) is their attempt to push over the tree they’ve been sawing at for decades. President Obama should have moved to repeal the Bush tax cuts immediately upon entering office; now it is too late, I’m afraid.

  11. Nancy Lee Says:

    So sad to see the Teapublicans pitting private sector employees against the unionized private sector employees. We have more in common with each other as far as wages, salaries, and benefits than we have with the millionaires who are waging this battle to split us apart so that they can privatize our economy and take power away from the people.

  12. Sulayman Dauda Says:

    Absolutely right in what I term democracy in Nigeria and some other African states as “war in peace” because if at all democracy is all about peaceful coexistence of society, then why all the violences and killings when election turn around? It is also known that the so call promoters of Democracy has been making conflicting interest regarding the out come of election result in many of these nations. For example it is well known that president Bush actively by way of proxy participated in rigging the 2007 Nigerians election in favor of the ruling Government for reasons personal to them, this was proved by Prof. Jean Herskovits in it article “the Nigerian rigg democracy” publish in the Foreign Affairs Joournal.with this and many could Democracy succeed beyond 21stcc?

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