Sunday, October 5, 2008

Burke was not against Democracy, only self-righteous, self-important French assholes

In response to my post on Burke's Speech to the Electors of Bristol, Alan writes:
I have rather completely concluded from Thomas Paine's Rights of Man that Burke was no stalwart of Democracy in any form.

While I am happy to defer to an intelligent, qualified Representative on issues of no importance to me or on which I have to confess limiting ignorance, that Representative remains My Public Servant, hired by my vote and paid from my taxes. I reserve always the right to argue forcefully for my position on any issue that moves me to do so, just as I reserve the right to advocate forcefully for the replacement of any poorly performing Representative.

The genius of our Constitution is the placing ultimate authority in the hands of those citizens inclined to exercise it by petitioning their government, hounding their Representatives, and firing any and all they view unfavorably--the educated, informed voters. The Electors of Bristol should have been so lucky.


If I remember correctly, I believe he lost that election. But somebody else would probably know better than me.

Your statement on the Burke not being in favor of Democracy in any form is completely false. He was FOR, PRO, IN FAVOR OF American independence...after being against it.

He was against the French Revolution because, to completely oversimplify, the revolutionaries were going too far, too fast. Oh, and because they were French. Alan, please give Reflections on the Revolution in France a thorough, thoughtful reading. I know you'll hate it, but you gotta read it.

Also, "The genius of our Constitution is the placing ultimate authority in the hands of those citizens inclined to exercise it by petitioning their government, hounding their Representatives, and firing any and all they view unfavorably--the educated, informed voters."

I think you seriously misunderstand our constitution because it is rather the opposite of what you wrote. The electoral college, to provide one example, ain't exactly about putting the ultimate authority in the hands of educated, informed voters. Informed electors? Yes. Informed average voter? Not so much.

1 comment:

alan_howe said...

I am content for now to take Paine's refutation of Burke as my guide. Burke was for independence for the colonies, yes. But, he could not have been for American Democracy at that time because no one knew what type of government would arise. With regard to France, Burke stood for monarchy.

As for our Constitution, of course the electoral college does not select itself, and in practice, it does not usurp the will of the majority for any state. But, this is only in play for the election of the executive, the second branch. The first branch is elected by us. Moreover, the legislative branch can enforce our will if we change our mind and want an executive removed ahead of schedule for cause.

Democracy, moreover, is not just about elections. We remain engaged with our Representatives and direct their actions if we choose. Few do so, so we think more and more of our government as "the government" and our situation as relatively powerless.

 
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