Countries are considered to be “free” if they are democracies. And democracy is considered, among most people, to be a good thing. The United States of America is a democracy. Well, technically a democratic republic, but you get the idea. But, Pat Buchanan no longer believes in democracy. Really.
A couple of days ago, Mr. Buchanan blogged about recent events in Hungary. He was writing about the rise of Viktor Orban and his Fidesz Party, which is far right and autocratic. They now have enough votes to rewrite Hungary’s constitution to limit its involvement in the EU and reduce immigration from Africa and the Middle East.
Mr. Buchanan continues to critique the liberal democracies of the West for their allowing immigration from other countries and cultures thus changing the genetic and social makeup of the countries. He excoriates the US in particular for having a “First Amendment freedom of speech and press that protects blasphemy, pornography, filthy language and the burning of the American flag”.
His conclusion is that democracy will lead countries into such moral decay and chaos that they will vote for autocracy. He says, “Democracy lacks content. As a political system, it does not engage the heart.”
At first blush, it looks like he’s right. After all, look what is happening in the US. We’ve voted in President Trump, a typical “strongman” who has spoken approvingly of China’s leader being in power for life. Trump is also fond of governing by executive order and with little input from Congress.
But, should we just leave democracy behind and become isolated little nation-states with minimal immigration again as Mr. Buchanan suggests? Do we want to be governed by kings or autocrats again?
First of all, one of the world’s major democracies, the United States, was built on immigration. The idea that all countries have hundreds and hundreds of years of history that we want to preserve without dilution from immigration just isn’t the case. In fact, the Europeans who settled North America got rid of the Native Americans and their thousands of years of history. (And mostly through genocide. Not a pretty part of our history.)
In a world of mass media, any other kind of political system than democracy is unthinkable. No longer do we think that kings are given divine authority. We want to know what is happening in government, and that’s feasible with our technology-driven society. There are dictatorships in the world, but they aren’t successful as countries go. Technology means openness and that means democracy.
Yes, democracy has problems. Yes, society has become more coarse. Yes, there is much more movement of people around the world and between countries. Yes, we need more Jesus.
Is the answer to give up on democracy? Mr. Buchanan doesn’t give us an answer. He thinks we’re inevitably heading toward autocracy. I disagree. Yes, we’ve got to deal with the rest of President Trump’s term of office, but I have hope for the future.
Democracy will take us as far as we will let it. Democracy is as good or as bad as the citizens of the nation. And our democracy is framed by our constitution which has lasted over 200 years. I’m optimistic that we’re going to see the error of our ways in electing President Trump and turn back from this precipice. I have hope that democracy is what will save us.