I Don't Believe in Democracy

Democracy doesn't work and we aren't supposed to be one.

Everything old is new again.  For fifty years, Democrats have opposed the Second Amendment rights of Americans to keep and bear arms; for much longer than that, of course, tyrants have opposed their citizenry possessing weapons that might enable them to resist oppression.

Does the fact that Mr. Obama wants to take our guns away make him a tyrant?  Bill Clinton was equally (though less effectively) in favor of gun control, and for all his flaws, a tyrant he wasn't.  The Caesars were certainly tyrannical but we're not aware of any major efforts to deprive Romans of whatever weapons they happened to have.

How about Mr. Obama's stated goal of tightening gun control by executive order?  That seems to be a major concern of several conservative Congressmen, who suggest that impeachment may be an appropriate response.

Well, let's be serious for a moment - Mr. Obama will never be impeached.  Not one single Democrat will ever again vote to impeach a Democratic president no matter what he does, and as we recently discussed, it's inconceivable that there will be two-thirds majorities of Republicans with the current electorate.  In the abstract, though, we can understand the Congressmen's point - how else can Congress fight back against a President who doesn't view himself as bound by Constitutional limits to his power, and insists on taking power that rightfully belongs to Congress?

And there we find a key, fundamental assumption that goes unchallenged but which is fatally flawed.  A recent pro-gun-control article on CNN.com illustrated this point without meaning to:

[Conservatives] talk a lot about liberty and freedom and love to call themselves patriots, but they seem to have a real problem with democracy. In a democracy, if people are proposing a law you don't like, you criticize it, you argue against it, you campaign against it, you vote against the politicians who support it. But if you believe in democracy, you don't threaten to start killing people if it passes. You don't say that if you don't like a new law, you'll start an insurrection to overthrow the government...

[Our Founders] certainly didn't set up our democracy in the hope that every time any group of people didn't like a law that democracy produced, they'd abandon any pretense of support for our system of government and start killing the cops and soldiers who protect us. There's a word for people who dream about doing that, and it isn't "patriot."

On its face, this sounds sensible.  The whole point of elections is to determine what sort of government America wants to have, and to identify the policies most Americans want to see enacted.  The 2012 election could not have had a clearer contrast between visions of what America is supposed to be, and a convincing majority of Americans chose Mr. Obama's vision.  As he bluntly put it to Republicans, "I won."

So does that make everything he does OK, given that he won the election?  No, it does not - because we do not live in a democracy.

CNN's article perpetuates this myth - in fact it extends it where it says in passing that our Founders set up a democracy.  They did no such thing, on purpose, with careful consideration.  They expressly did not want a democracy.  They feared unlimited rule by "the people," knowng as they did that "the people" can easily be swayed into dangerous and irretrievable error by skilled demagogues and golden-tongued orators.

First and foremost, as Ben Franklin said, our government is "A republic - if you can keep it."  We elect representatives who make our laws.  Obviously those representatives are supposed to respond to the electorate - if they don't, they'll lose the next election - but they're not supposed to be mere puppets.

But Mr. Obama is America's elected President.  Doesn't that just underscore his moral authority to do what he wants to do?  It's not like his views on guns are a surprise to anyone.

No it doesn't, because of the second aspect of our government: we are a Constitutional republic.

Our Founders had so little faith in the eternal wisdom of government, that they tried to tie its hands forever by writing down what Congress was and was not allowed to do.  Most of the Amendments of the Bill of Rights contain the phrase, "Congress shall make no law..."   The whole point was to remove from government the power to do certain things.

The Second Amendment uses slightly different words to mean the same thing: "The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."  This is actually an even wider restriction - not only can't you make laws affecting this right, you can't infringe  it at all - for example, by regulation, or by oppressive searches, or harassment, or in any means.

Of course nobody today reads the Amendment this way, because our opinionmakers reject the idea that there are supposed to be any limits on government power.  But that was the key point of the American Revolution - our founders wanted freedom and liberty, which cannot exist when government can do whatever it pleases.

The title of CNN's article is, "NRA's paranoid fantasy flouts democracy."  They say this as if it's a bad thing.  In doing so, however, they betray their ignorance and bias.

Yes, the NRA rejects democracy - as did our Founders.  The NRA, like our Congressmen, Senators and President are supposed to, swears allegiance to the Constitution.  They don't swear allegiance to democracy, or to the voters; they swear loyalty to the written agreement between the American people and their government.

If the American people feel that the Second Amendment is outdated, there is a perfectly legitimate Constitutional procedure to have it repealed, though we can do without an arrogant elitist far-left Brit telling us we're uncivilized barbarians until we've done so.

Until that happens, the Constitution is the supreme law of the land, no matter what the President, the Congress, or even the voters want to do.

If you'd rather not live under our Constitution and think it's too much bother to make amendments as it prescribes, there are many nearby borders which you could cross.  The door is that way.  Don't slam it on your way out.

Petrarch is a contributing editor for Scragged.  Read other Scragged.com articles by Petrarch or other articles on Politics.
Reader Comments

Once again you are trying to inject logic into the conversation/debate. Liberals do not allow logic or past results to be considered. They go by what feels good to them and believe in freedom only if it is allowed by a controlling government/dictator.

The results of the sixties are coming home to roost today by its crop of liberals. They realized early on that they had to infiltrate education and the smoke filled rooms of politics. They, not obama, were the community organizers. They built their empire one inch at a time. An example of this is your assessment of Bill Clinton. You said that he was not a tyrant like obama. That is only true because the liberals had not yet achieved the inches that obama now enjoys that Clinton didn't have. Trust me on this, Clinton would have banned gun, passed health care, confiscated a percentage of our retirement plans, severely downsized the military, etc if he thought that he were able to do so. Think about FDR, he was drunk with power when he passed the Social Security Act. He tried to stack the Supreme Court. Even he couldn't get this done. At one point in time this will happen. How or why or when I don't know but it you will rewind history you can see that all of the liberal's agenda slowly comes to pass. This is why compromise should never be considered.

January 24, 2013 1:09 PM

We agree in general, Bassboat, but I have to differ with you on a couple of things.

First, compromise is the foundation of democratic and representative politics. It's necessary and unavoidable. In and of itself, it is not bad.

The question is, what is the RESULT of the compromise? For example, I believe the Federal government has no business being involved in education, nor providing loans, nor grants. The DoE should be abolished. Cutting the budget of the DoE would be a compromise - but it's a step in the right direction from where we are now. Being a compromise, should we reject it if we got the opportunity? Of course not.

The problem we have today is that all compromises move the ball left. The only question at hand is just how far left we're going to go. In that case, no, we shouldn't compromise; at the very least we should sit on the ball and not let it move at all.

A corollary to this is that not all Democrats are 100% evil anti-American would-be Stalinists. I don't believe even all Democrat politicians are.

To me, there is a world of difference between Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. The good of the country was never Bill Clinton's #1 goal - but I do believe it was #4 or so (after his own personal pleasure, power, and wealth). As long as he could do so without harming himself, Slick Willie was perfectly happy to see Americans wealthy and successful.

Barack Obama is quite another story. I believe that, unlike Bill Clinton, Obama actively dislikes America and Americans and wishes to see us poorer and weaker.

Compare Joe Biden. He's a moron, but he doesn't hate American people, history, and culture. I believe he actually does want to see Americans better off - of course, he's deluded as to how that is best achieved, but his motives aren't evil.

Someone like Joe Biden or Bill Clinton can be worked with, if you're able to persuade them that a given policy will help America. That won't work with an Obama.

Look at it this way: if given the opportunity to vote for Bill Clinton vs Barack Obama, who would you vote for? Do you think it wouldn't matter? To me, it's a world of difference - I'd run to vote for Slick Willie if it would rid us of The One. That doesn't mean it's a choice I'd find appealing - but it would be a choice of substance and clear difference all the same.

Another difference: Yes, Bill Clinton would have downsized our military. But he wouldn't have gotten rid of it entirely or kneecapped it so it couldn't function. I believe Obama would, were he able to; or, more accurately, he would reorient the military to be aimed more at domestic enemies than foreign ones. Yes, Clinton oversaw Waco and Ruby Ridge, but I don't think those were policy objectives for him, more a matter of happenstance. Again: which is worse for America? There's a notable difference.

Even FDR had limits. Yes, he was drunk with power, BUT he did not grab as much power as he **could have.** Scragged has documented where, when he was first elected, major opinionmakers and newspapers publicly pleaded with FDR to assume dictatorial powers - remember, in the early 30s, it looked like the fascists had an effective way out of economic depression, and their barbarities were not yet widely known. FDR probably could have pulled it off, if he'd wanted to - but he refrained from it, and that is honorable. Would Obama be so restrained? I think we all know the answer.

January 24, 2013 2:15 PM

Petrarch, Excellent rebuttal to my response. I do agree with you given the choice between SW and obama, I too would run to vote for him that being the only option.

No, I do not think that all democrats are evil. I think that most are liberal. One only has to look at how the votes fell on obamacare. That does not necessarily make them evil, simply liberal which you and I think is a bad path for our country to go down.

The main crux of my response was the drop-by-drop water torture that the left has the discipline to do when it comes to policy. When we compromise away 1% at a time look what happens after a period of time. You have a disaster on your hands. Health care is an excellent example. My response was written in absollutes and not grounded in reality when push comes to shove as you so politely pointed out. My goals are those that we as conservatives should aspire to over a long period of time, 1% at a time and quit turning our backs on our principles.

January 24, 2013 2:45 PM

This sounds convincing, but is not based in fact. Here's a list of what Obama is planning to do by executive order. Where in this list is anything that infringes on your rights to own a gun?

1. Issue a Presidential Memorandum to require federal agencies to make relevant data available to the federal background check system.
2. Address unnecessary legal barriers, particularly relating to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, that may prevent states from making information available to the background check system.
3. Improve incentives for states to share information with the background check system.
4. Direct the Attorney General to review categories of individuals prohibited from having a gun to make sure dangerous people are not slipping through the cracks.
5. Propose rulemaking to give law enforcement the ability to run a full background check on an individual before returning a seized gun.
6. Publish a letter from ATF to federally licensed gun dealers providing guidance on how to run background checks for private sellers.
7. Launch a national safe and responsible gun ownership campaign.
8. Review safety standards for gun locks and gun safes (Consumer Product Safety Commission).
9. Issue a Presidential Memorandum to require federal law enforcement to trace guns recovered in criminal investigations.
10. Release a DOJ report analyzing information on lost and stolen guns and make it widely available to law enforcement.
11. Nominate an ATF director.
12. Provide law enforcement, first responders, and school officials with proper training for active shooter situations.
13. Maximize enforcement efforts to prevent gun violence and prosecute gun crime.
14. Issue a Presidential Memorandum directing the Centers for Disease Control to research the causes and prevention of gun violence.
15. Direct the Attorney General to issue a report on the availability and most effective use of new gun safety technologies and challenge the private sector to develop innovative technologies
16. Clarify that the Affordable Care Act does not prohibit doctors asking their patients about guns in their homes.
17. Release a letter to health care providers clarifying that no federal law prohibits them from reporting threats of violence to law enforcement authorities.
18. Provide incentives for schools to hire school resource officers.
19. Develop model emergency response plans for schools, houses of worship and institutions of higher education.
20. Release a letter to state health officials clarifying the scope of mental health services that Medicaid plans must cover.
21. Finalize regulations clarifying essential health benefits and parity requirements within ACA exchanges.
22. Commit to finalizing mental health parity regulations.
23. Launch a national dialogue led by Secretaries Sebelius and Duncan on mental health.

January 25, 2013 3:32 AM


The 2nd amendment says:

"The rights of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed"

Here's the definition of infringe:

"Act so as to limit or undermine (something); encroach on"

Every single one of those 23 items in your list meets the definition of "limiting or undermining".

What part of "shall not be infringed" do you not understand?

January 25, 2013 9:10 AM

@Reason, @Ifon:

I rather think it's a slew of solutions in search of a problem. The problem at Sandy Hook is a crime committed in the state of Connecticut. I fail to see how the federal government has any jurisdiction whatsoever. The crimes at the Theater in Aurora, Colorado are for Coloradans to deal with. Likewise with any first-responder or school administrator/teacher training.

If the president thought this was such a pressing issue, he'd have done something some other time, instead of using young kids as political human shields when an incident of this kind provides an opportunity.

What the hell is a "national dialogue," anyway? They talk, we listen, that's what. There is nothing that such people have to teach that I will find useful.

Alcohol, tobacco, and firearms are all legal (for now) - why do we need a fully-armed federal agency interfering, knocking down doors, and generally causing trouble?

Launch a safe and responsible gun ownership campaign? Again, the government is not a body of teachers, nor should it attempt to be. Yesterday, there were public service announcements telling people to stay inside if it's cold, and tread carefully in the snow if they must go outside. Madness. Your government, working for you, thinks you are stupid.

Incentives for schools to hire ...... we've heard that song and dance before as well. This means, the feds will shovel money into localities for a few years for new teachers, cops, etc but after a spell the money will disappear, leaving the locals to cover the new cost. If the money weren't taxed away in the first place, it wouldn't need to be siphoned from A to B and then back to A again.

I'm sorry, Reason, but what isn't unconstitutional in that list is just plain idiocy.

January 25, 2013 8:13 PM


All of it, apparently. You say that every single item on that list infringes your rights. A few of them actually seems like something Scragged might endorse if it was anyone other than Obama that came up with the idea. Let's try a few. And remember, none of this can mean increasing spending, since that can't be done by presidential order.

13. Maximize enforcement efforts to prevent gun violence and prosecute gun crime.

- Basically, increase policing of gun crime. I suppose you agree that if you commit a crime, you should be prosecuted. Yes, even if that crime involved a gun.

17. Release a letter to health care providers clarifying that no federal law prohibits them from reporting threats of violence to law enforcement authorities.

- Not sure how clarifying the current laws can ever be a bad idea, or how it can infringe your rights in any way.

18. Provide incentives for schools to hire school resource officers.

- Of course, the devil is in the details of the incentives, but ignoring that, how can it be a bad idea to make it easier for schools to hire policemen?

20. Release a letter to state health officials clarifying the scope of mental health services that Medicaid plans must cover.

- Ok, now I'm really at a loss. The fact that you think this infringes gun rights really stretches the boundaries of plausibility.

My original question was where there was ANYTHING on that list that infringed on the right to own a gun. You replied by saying that EVERYTHING infringes rights. Pray tell how each and every one of the 23 items infringes your rights.

@Brother John,

I've never argued or suggested that anything on that list was a good idea. Mostly I'm doubtful that it will have any effect on anything, so the items on that list are probably useless at best.

Whether it is unconstitutional, however, is what is up for discussion. You add absolutely nothing to that discussion.

February 11, 2013 8:45 AM


Since crime of nearly any kind is a state matter, and since the federal government is prohibited from doing anything to abridge an individual's freedom with regard to property and self-defense, essentially none of this "national debate" concerns the federal government in any way. There really isn't any more discussion that needs to happen here. The states ought to handle their own affairs their own ways; the successful ways will be copied, the unsuccessful ways will not (except in California). Federal encroachment gives you only one bad way.

May I now address a few of your quotes:

"Basically, increase policing of gun crime. I suppose you agree that if you commit a crime, you should be prosecuted. Yes, even if that crime involved a gun."
- Has anyone seriously suggested that a "gun crime" should be more lightly punished? I'm not sure what you're getting at. Possession of an object isn't a crime - harming the life, liberty, or property of another person (with or without that object) is a crime. Again, state or local matter; no proper federal jurisdiction.

"Not sure how clarifying the current laws can ever be a bad idea, or how it can infringe your rights in any way. "
- I take your point but it's slippery ground since so many rules and laws are created by agencies, not congress (again - unconstitutional). They frequently operate at cross-purposes with one another. If a doctor did not report something he thought suspicious, it was likely because he feared a HIPAA-related lawsuit. With so many incomprehensible laws and regulations, it is impossible for anyone to follow them all and act in good faith.

"how can it be a bad idea to make it easier for schools to hire policemen?"
- Again, a good point. Were we not taxing money from A to funnel through B to give to C and back to A eventually with everyone taking a cut, though, A could do it for themselves. I also think it's a fatal conceit to think that there is much that can be done to do away with random shootings.

February 11, 2013 10:30 AM


Stuff like:

"Maximize enforcement efforts to prevent gun violence and prosecute gun crime"

don't change any existing gun laws or do anything new to stop gun violence. Last I checked, it was the government job to enforce the law, yes? Given that, we should not congratulate our DC overlords because they decide to do their job.

Those items may as well not be on the list. They're not new; they won't make any difference, they don't change infringement. I was appropriately ignoring those parts.

The mental health aspects ABSOLUTELY DO infringe your rights. The constitution gives no leeway to the government to define which people may keep and bear arms. It merely says those rights shall not be infringed. Again, what part of that statement do you not understand?

As to why mental health laws will infringe... Who defines mental health, you? What happens if you and your wife go in for marriage counseling? Does the record of that constitute mental health issues? If you're a member of Scientology, can the public declare you mentally unfit? Or Christianity or another religion?

Don't be so willing to hand away your freedoms for the fictional results the government gives you in return. Our DC overlords cannot even demonstrate HOW an Assault Weapons Ban will impact crime, let alone show results of it happening (after the last AWB expired, firearm crime dropped dramatically). Think for youself.

February 11, 2013 11:14 AM

Ok, enough with the straw man that is me being a blindly faithful Obama supporter. Let me restate that I make no claim to the usefulness of the items on that list.

If we can get that out of the way, then let's get to the point, which is whether the list is unconstitutional, as is claimed as one of the main points in the article above.

Of the 23 items, you only really argue that gun rights are infringed by the ones regarding mental health. You are not specific, which makes it difficult to infer how exactly that is relevant. I'll assume you are referring to nr. 20, which I reprinted in my last comment. That item makes no reference to firearms, even indirectly, so you are going to have to help me out here. How does clarifying existing laws regarding Medicaid infringe gun rights? If existing laws are unconstitutional, they should be struck down by the supreme court. Until that happens, the president has an obligation to execute them.

And there is no need to repeat "what part of that statement do you not understand" in every reply. That is rude and unnecessary. If you really think that I am a hopeless idiot, than why waste your time responding?

February 14, 2013 6:19 PM

Well now, speaking of straw men, I don't see anywhere in the article where it cites Obama's 20-point list and says they are all unconstitutional. I don't even recall citing that particular list at all. As it happens, that list is basically fluff that does nothing much, and probably isn't notably unconstitutional.

The concern is the threatened actions that have not yet been enacted, and may not be; but of course, the real concern is the total lack of understanding of what kind of a government we are supposed to have. Not so much on Obama's part, but the voters.

February 14, 2013 9:22 PM

The article says "How about Mr. Obama's stated goal of tightening gun control by executive order?". Since those 23 items are the specific executive orders (also named in the link) that Obama plans on as a response to gun violence, then yes the article references that list, though only indirectly. Reading the article again, I see that you don't explicitly call it unconstitutional, but it is strongly implied. On the other hand, lfon did explicitly posit that "every single one" of the items were unconstitutional. So a straw man that is not.

February 18, 2013 5:16 PM
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