Election signals American decline

American voters have discovered under Obama they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury

In 1835 the French historian Alexis de Tocqueville wrote extensively on American-style democracy and came to the conclusion that as vibrant and exceptional as the American experience was, it was only a matter of time before its inevitable collapse.

de Tocqueville’s stated conclusions: “A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations has been 200 years.”

And: “When the taste for physical gratifications among them has grown more rapidly than their education … the time will come when men are carried away and lose all self-restraint… It is not necessary to do violence to such a people in order to strip them of the rights they enjoy; they themselves willingly loosen their hold … they neglect their chief business, which is to remain their own.”

The Nov. 6  re-election of Barack Obama likely sealed the fate of the America’s decline and confirmed de Tocqueville’s prophecies.

The decline of American democracy began in the Great Depression when the Roosevelt’s administration’s “New Deal” initiated the modern notion of taxation and redistribution on the basis of social and electoral segments of the population.  The process of political pandering to people based on electoral advantage was pushed further in the Lyndon Johnson administration with the “Great Society” which resulted in the Democratic party starting to buy the votes of the black community in the U.S.

In increments, successive administrations, primarily Democratic, but in some cases Republican, have determined the path to electoral success is to offer voters more and more benefits, without any discussion about how the benefits will be funded.

It is not possible for government to provide one group increased advantages without reducing the advantages of some other group or groups.  In the American system, this is achieved through taxation, although initiatives such as affirmative action and human rights legislation have the same effect in non-financial areas of society.

The Obama administration since 2008 has focused on reinforcing existing feelings of disaffection and disenfranchisement in a few key electoral communities, primarily black, Latino, single women, public-sector unions and the gay community.  At the same time, Obama promised these groups special benefits, and vowed to create a system in which the “favoured” groups would pay nothing for their newfound benefits.

That the group of people — “the rich” in the Obama lexicon — who will be expected to pay are largely white, male and over 45 years of age is understood, but unsaid.

American voters, as de Tocqueville put it, have discovered under Obama they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury.  This has always been the case, the difference being that in the past most U.S. leaders retained some grasp of a sense of the “moral hazard” in rampant vote buying. No longer.

The standard has been set and there is now no incentive for any U.S. politician to restrain his promises of special deals to various constituents.  The voters have delivered the message that individual liberty and government debt are far less important than taxpayer-provided benefits and handouts.  Voters have signaled they will sell themselves to the highest bidder, and politicians in the U.S. will now engage in a bidding war to win the vote.

Obama made his promises at the same time disenfranchising the very group upon whom he depends to fund his commitments. The “rich” are less likely to be predisposed to continue to work to foot the bill, and the current president has no plan to make up the financial shortfall, beyond raising taxes and borrowing money.  There is now no alternative that is acceptable to the American voter.

de Tocqueville noted the average age of great civilizations is 200 years. America has beaten the clock and made it to 236 years.  America’s inevitable decline began 80 years ago with FDR, and it is exceptional that America was able to continue as a great democracy since then. But the die has been cast.

Some will cheer the demise of America’s role in the world — but have they truly considered the alternative?

 

 

 

Mark Walker is the publisher of the Penticton Western News.

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders sits in on a COVID-19 briefing with Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer, and Adrian Dix, B.C. minister of health. (Birinder Narang/Twitter)
PHOTOS: Bernie Sanders visits B.C. landmarks through the magic of photo editing

Residents jump on viral trend of photoshopping U.S. senator into images

The Keremeos Grist Mill and Gards is preparing for another season of their Pantry Share program, distributing monthly packages with preserves like the one taken in the photo above. (Grist Mill Facebook)
Shares in heritage community garden program go on sale

The Grist Mill and Gardens in Keremeos is bringing back its Pantry Share for 2021

Expect cold weather and snow over the weekend. (Submitted photo)
Prepare for subzero weekend in South Okanagan

Expect some snow to start falling Saturday night and into Sunday

Skaha Middle School
Arrest made in indecent acts near Penticton schools

A 32-year-old man was arrested and released on strict conditions, say police

Flooding has become a reality for many communities in the Okanagan Valley as the region faces more extreme weather storms, blamed on the impact of climate change. (File photo)
Okanagan high target for spring flooding

Higher snowpack and mild winter precipitation levels raise concerns for Canada’s insurance industry

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders sits in on a COVID-19 briefing with Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer, and Adrian Dix, B.C. minister of health. (Birinder Narang/Twitter)
PHOTOS: Bernie Sanders visits B.C. landmarks through the magic of photo editing

Residents jump on viral trend of photoshopping U.S. senator into images

A COVID-19 exposure has been confirmed at Black Mountain Elementary in Kelowna Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021. (Google Image)
Another COVID-19 exposure confirmed at Kelowna school

Interior Health confirmed an exposure at Black Mountain Elementary School Saturday

Members of BCEHS Station 343 in Lake Country receive a donation of treats and wine from the community in December. (Contributed)
‘Unexpected and heartwarming’: Okanagan community supports paramedics

Cards, discounts, treats, more given to Lake Country paramedics in sign of support

A 75-year-old aircraft has been languishing in a parking lot on the campus of the University of the Fraser Valley, but will soon be moved to the B.C. Aviation Museum. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Vintage military aircraft moving from Chilliwack to new home at B.C. Aviation Museum

The challenging move to Vancouver Island will be documented by Discovery Channel film crews

The North Okanagan Naturalists' Club completed its annual swan and eagle counts Sunday, Jan. 17, 2021. (Claude Rioux - NONC photo)
North Okanagan bird count shows decrease in swan and eagle numbers

Trumpeter swans were down 61 per cent from last year’s count; eagles down 14 per cent

Okanagan Indian Band Chief Byron Louis has served as the band’s chief since his first of six electoral wins in 1991. (File photo)
Okanagan Indian Band seeks nominations for upcoming election

A new OKIB chief and council will be elected March 30, 2021

Lake Country firefighters helped deliver a healthy newborn baby Thursday, Jan. 21, 2020. (Pixabay)
Lake Country firefighters help deliver baby boy

Firefighters from the Winfield hall assisted with the birth of a healthy newborn Thursday morning

A video posted to social media by Chilliwack resident Rob Iezzi shows a teenager getting kicked in the face after being approached by three suspects on Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (YouTube/Rob i)
VIDEO: Security cameras capture ‘just one more assault’ near B.C. high school

Third high-school related assault captured by Chilliwack resident’s cameras since beginning of 2021

An individual at Rutland Senior Secondary school has tested positive for COVID-19. (Aman Parhar/Omineca Express)
Individual at Central Okanagan school tests positive for COVID-19

Authorities say the person is self-isolating at home with support from local health teams

Most Read