Barbarians at the Gate of Democracy

My first political science class and already something startling was floating around in my 19 year old head. The professor had just said that a “benevolent dictatorship” was the best and most efficient type of government. I couldn’t believe it. The United States of America has the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, The Constitution. Of course our “democratic republic” was the only way to govern. We fought numerous wars to prove it. What was this obviously radical professor talking about?

See, I was raised to believe in America. I had grown up in a small town. Yes we prayed in school, said the Pledge of Allegiance, learned The “Star Spangled Banner, the State anthem and the Alma Mater. My parents had survived the Great Depression and World War II. It was ingrained in me and my classmates that we lived in the greatest country in the world. As such we had the greatest system of government. And now some long haired, hippie type, pinko academic was saying that wasn’t so!

As I moved along through academics, I learned that what was taught to you wasn’t necessarily fact, but opinion. Most of what I was taught was opinion and I developed certain skills in argument and debate that excited me through school. I never forgot the “benevolent dictatorship” opinion though, and now, its come home to roost in the form of Donald Trump.

Trump does not believe in democracy. It is clear from his rhetoric “trust me folks”, “I’m going to change that” etc. that he has no clue that the United States of America is a complex system of checks and balances with two legislative branches, an executive branch, a judicial branch and many state and local governments. Dictatorships don’t have that.

Trump is also not benevolent in any way. Listen to him rant about wanting to beat up protestors. He is a rich man who runs his business from the top down and will not either listen to anyone or rely on any advice. He will take all the credit for successes and pass the blame on to others. That is not the way a democracy works.

To be fair we have a democratic republic. While we vote, there are institutions like the electoral college and bicameral legislative institution that softens the “democratic” part of our republic. It should be very clear why the founding fathers did that. It was to slow down the reactionary urge of some to just go elect Trump and his autocratic ilk. We have a complicated government system for a reason.

The founding fathers intended that votes matter, but didn’t want people becoming emotional and doing stupid things. Their wisdom has never shown so brightly as in the 2016 Presidential election; where the barbarians are indeed at the gates of our democracy.

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