By ANDREW P. NAPOLITANO
What if you were allowed to vote only because it didn’t make a difference? What if no matter how you voted the elites always got their way? What if the concept of one person/one vote was just a fiction created by the government to induce your compliance?
What if democracy as it has come to exist in America today is dangerous to personal freedom? What if our so-called democracy erodes the people’s understanding of natural rights and the reasons for government and instead turns political campaigns into beauty contests?
What if American democracy allows the government to do anything it wants, as long as more people bother to show up at the voting booth to support the government than show up to say no?
What if the purpose of contemporary democracy has been to convince people that they could prosper not through the voluntary creation of wealth but through theft from others? What if the only moral way to acquire wealth is through voluntary economic activity? What if the government persuaded the people that they could acquire wealth through political activity?
What if economic activity includes all the productive and peaceful things we voluntarily do? What if political activity includes all the parasitical and destructive things the government does? What if the government has never created wealth? What if everything the government owns it has stolen?
What if governments were originally established to protect people’s freedoms but always turn into political and imperialist enterprises that seek to expand their power, increase their territory, and heighten their control of the population? What if the idea that we need a government to take care of us is a fiction perpetrated to increase the size of government?
What if our strength as individuals and durability as a culture are contingent not on the strength of the government but on the amount of freedom we have from the government?
What if the fatal cocktail of big government and democracy ultimately produces dependency? What if so-called democratic government, once it grows to a certain size, begins to soften and weaken the people? What if big government destroys people’s motivations and democracy convinces them that the only motivation they need is to vote and go along with the results?
What if Congress isn’t actually as democratic as it appears? What if congressional elections don’t square with congressional legislation because the polls aren’t what counts, but what counts are the secret meetings that come after the voting?
What if the monster Joe Stalin was right when he said the most powerful person in the world is the guy who counts the votes? What if the vote counting that really counts takes place in secret? What if that’s how we lost our republic?
What if the problem with democracy is that the majority thinks it can right any wrong, write any law, tax any event, regulate any behavior, and acquire anything it wants? What if the greatest tyrant in history lives among us? What if that tyrant always gets its way, no matter what the laws are or what the Constitution says? What if that tyrant is the majority of voters? What if the majority in a democracy recognizes no limits on its power?
What if the government misinforms voters so they will justify anything the government wants to do? What if the government bribes people with the money it prints? What if it gives entitlements to the poor and tax breaks to the middle class and bailouts to the rich just to keep everyone dependent on it?
What if a vibrant republic requires not just the democratic process of voting, but also informed and engaged voters who understand first principles of human existence, including the divine origin and inalienable individual possession of natural rights?
What if we could free ourselves from the yoke of big government through a return to first principles? What if the establishment doesn’t want this? What if the government remains the same no matter who wins elections? What if we have only one political party — the Big Government Party — and it has a Democratic wing and a Republican wing?
What if both wings want war and taxes and welfare and perpetual government growth, but offer only slightly different menus on how to achieve them? What if the Big Government Party enacted laws to make it impossible for meaningful political competition to thrive?
What if the late progressive Edmund S. Morgan was right when he said that government depends on make-believe? What if our ancestors made believe that the king was divine? What if they made believe that he could do no wrong? What if they made believe that the voice of the king was the voice of God?
What if the government believes in make-believe? What if it made believe that the people have a voice? What if it made believe that the representatives of the people are the people? What if it made believe that the governors are the servants of the people? What if it made believe that all men are created equal, or that they are not?
What if the government made believe that it is always right? What if it made believe that the majority can do no wrong? What if the tyranny of the majority is as destructive to human freedom as the tyranny of a madman? What if the government knows this?
What do we do about it?
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(Andrew P. Napolitano, a former judge of the Superior Court of New Jersey, is the senior judicial analyst at Fox News Channel. Judge Napolitano has written seven books on the U.S. Constitution. The most recent is Theodore and Woodrow: How Two American Presidents Destroyed Constitutional Freedom. Creator.com provides his column.)