"Now let’s be clear," says Chuck. "What’s happening in these Midwestern states is not democracy. But it will be a critical test for democracy, whether our system can survive...For if the mob can overrule public officials who are seeking to save their state from insolvency, then America is no longer governable, and the fears of the ancient Athenians and the Founders will have been realized."
The brouhaha in Wisconsin may not be a manifestation of democracy per se, but democracy certainly isn't doing much to stop it. In fact, with private union members now augmenting the ranks of public sector protesters, we're realistically looking at an impressive chunk of that region's voting population. What happens if the mob achieves a majority? Will that obligate the state government to carry out their demands, regardless of the economic consequences? Can public employees, or citizens for that matter, continue to vote themselves raises in the midst of fiscal insolvency?
That's a lot of negative things, but it's not undemocratic. And that's just the point. Democracy, like any form of government, is only as good as the men and women in power. As soon as the power-holders become corrupt, the system implodes. Democracy's only advantage is decentralized power. But while you can't fool all of the people all of the time, you can certainly fool most of the people most of the time--and that's all democracy needs to self-destruct.
Thank God (and the Founding Fathers) we don't live in a democracy:
"Democracy... while it lasts is more bloody than either aristocracy or monarchy," wrote President John Adams. "Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There is never a democracy that did not commit suicide."
What form of government, then, have our forefathers bequeathed to us? "A republic," replied Benjamin Franklin. "If you can keep it."
The long and short of it is that democracy is a poor form of government, and certainly not what's standing between Wisconsin and utter chaos. Only republican government and checks and balances are restraining the American Midwest from becoming another Egypt (or Jordan, or Libya, or Tunisia or Syria, or...).
Majority rule is vulnerable to the same dangers as monarchy. The only difference is that you can't hope for a democratic majority to get old and die on the throne. Let's hope the rule of law triumphs in Wisconsin. Or--as Chuck warned--America will have started down a sure path toward becoming ungovernable.