A Pearls Before Swine Moment

Former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum has gotten himself in trouble with the mainstream media again. And as is often the case, he has done it in a way that reassures me that I was right to lend my loud support to his bid for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, at the moment when he was the last conservative standing against eventual nominee Mitt Romney. Specifically, Santorum, commenting on this week’s GOP loss in Ohio, noted that these defeats resulted in part from states tying their elections to direct up-or-down votes on “sexy” legislative agenda items, such as abortion and marijuana “rights.”

Explicating his argument most clearly, Santorum noted:

Thank goodness that most of the states in our country don’t allow you to put everything on the ballot because pure democracies are not the way to run a country. 

And there we have this week’s magic “gotcha” clip for the mainstream media, when saving democracy has become their religious mantra of choice: “pure democracies are not the way to run a country.” 

As an idiot named Jonathan Simon comments by way of sounding the alarm bells on Santorum’s anti-democratic words, “The Santorum clip rightfully went viral, but most people probably don’t realize the full implication of what the former senator is saying.” True enough, though not the way Simon meant it: Most people certainly don’t realize the full implication of Santorum’s words — because most people, or at least most people educated in American public schools and informed by the American media, have no idea what their country is, or what democracy is.

In speaking his ominously undemocratic words, Santorum was merely pointing out what used to be a universally understood notion in his country, namely that a constitutional republic, such as America was founded to be, is superior to a pure democracy precisely because it entrenches certain principles of liberty, and above all certain limits on governmental authority, that the wisest statesmen of the country’s history determined to be essential to a free society, transcending or superseding all the transient whims or enthusiasms of any passing moment. Allowing citizens to engage in direct votes on “rights” questions would, the Founders understood, be nothing but a euphemism for “voting themselves other people’s money,” or for granting government excessive and irreversible coercive power to impose the majority will upon society, as though the popular sentiments of a moment, or of a particularly vocal demographic, ought to stand as substitutes for truth, moderation, and the resignation to human imperfection that is the proper and necessary response of a free people to any utopian lurch for immediate social change to be achieved by the force of mobs and before the barrel of a state-wielded gun.

Unfortunately, Santorum is one of the very few men in or near the world of American electoral politics today who is still able to understand, let alone articulate, this very simple point — and one of the few with the courage to say anything that has not been vetted for popular appeal and tribal flattery. Certainly his erstwhile friends (some of them his former Tea Party supporters) in the Trump cult have no notion of any of this, and are as offended at any attempt to curtail the cuckoo clock that is Donald’s will as the leftist mainstream is offended at the attempt to curtail the nightmare of absolute majority rule.

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