Democralatry strikes again!

Jeff Jarvis:

There are those in the press and government who don’t like or trust the public they serve. It is an unliberal attitude–which can come from Liberals, by the way–for it doesn’t buy the core belief of liberal democracy that the people properly rule….

This ignores the 2,000 year suspicion of democracy which the norm up to, and including, the American Founding. We were founded a republic, and universal white male suffrage did not become the norm until the first decades of the 19th century. Today we elide the distinction between the liberal and democratic aspects of the dominant form of government in the West, but it is a real one. With widespread suffrage, a full realization of democracy, there is, and was, often a curtailment of liberalism, and a decline in Liberal parties. This is because sectors of society in the 19th century which were disenfranchised, such as the lower classes and women, were often socially conservative and suspicious of freedom which they may have perceived as libertine. There was a close connection between the push for suffrage in the United States, and the perception that women would support Prohibition.

Of course in our Panglossian world the tension between liberty, equality, and populism, do not exist. Reality is what we make it, and the people are always right.

Note: This does not mean that I favor top-down public policy. Rather, I oppose rejection of top-down policies on the grounds that such policies are undemocratic (quite often they’re not, as voters often delegate to technocrats willingly), illiberal (there is no identity between liberalism and majoritarianism), or elitist (there is no shame in graded orders and distinctions between the few and the many in a variety of domains).

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