David Frum: Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders, and Democracy Won in New Hampshire – The Atlantic


CK MacLeod

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4 Responses

  1. Avatar Tod Kelly says:

    Someone writes some version of this essay in every election, and for the life of me I cannot understand it.

    If, say, more people in NH had decided they preferred Jeb Bush, then democracy loses? If the people everyone thought might win initially actually get more votes, then democracy is broken?Report

    • Avatar CK MacLeod says:

      You should read his entire argument, although I think I caught the main part of it in the excerpt: His theory is that real R voters have always been less “Club for Growth” than the establishment, but that up until this moment, perhaps, said Establishment has managed to control its candidates especially by controlling the money. So, Reformocon Prime here actually begins to sound like “a liberal” – in part by rejecting the heirs of classical liberalism with their preference for minimal taxation and minimal government, in favor of government as (democratically fair) spoils system.

      In short, it’s very possible for a democracy to democratically choose to be an oligarchy – and that would be the condition that has now been, according to Frum, overturned, at least for the moment. In the classical theory of politics, something like that is even considered characteristic of a well-functioning “mixed” regime: The ignorant and sentimental masses well enough instructed and tamed to choose rule by their betters, the gentlemen, who will in turn rule wisely enough to deserve the title, including by ruling with as a light a hand as circumstances and the greater good allow. The alternative, according to the classics, and in fact the common and eventually universal pattern, is for democracy always sooner or later to choose democratically to commit suicide, and very democratically terminate democracy in favor of one or another form of tyranny.

      The American system was designed very consciously with the intention to escape or defy this cycle of self-destruction, forever or for as long as possible.Report

  2. Avatar Damon says:

    “government as (democratically fair) spoils system.”

    I had to LOL at that.Report

  3. You know who else won a plurality even though the Establishment was dead set against him? And I’ll bet you there was a Weimar version of Frum insisting that it meant the system worked. (If it was someone as smart as Frum, it might have been a Weimaraner).Report