One Man, One, Vote, Once
AS MY GENERATION slides into its new role of sitting on park benches feeding pigeons, I worry not so much about which direction the country is headed as whether anyone still knows what makes its wheels turn.
Indiana’s race for Secretary of State has caught my attention in that regard.
The one candidate, the Democrat, is out of central casting. An attorney, her resume includes service as a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve, deputy chair of the Indiana Democratic Party and former deputy attorney general.
The Republican, with a masters degree in business from Purdue, has taken a more nontraditional route, kicking around in various political offices. His campaign biographer tells us he has “helped coordinate and staff agricultural, business and chamber round tables, meeting with car dealerships and county clerks across the state.” He was in military service at some point and in some capacity.
Let us assess.
Can we be impressed with claims of military service anymore? The “service” generally turns out to have been clerical despite plenty of medals and a combat designation. Yes, but a lieutenant colonel? Please, anyone who has actually served in the military knows there are lieutenant colonels who can’t be trusted to drive across town.
Ditto for education. Graduate and law schools have dumbed down their requirements to the point a degree conveys no reliable information as to intelligence or ability. It may mean nothing more than the candidate’s sex or ethnicity qualified him, her or them for admittance and scholarships denied others.
How to choose?
The Republican has one big thing going for him. His parents immigrated here from Central America, a place where free and fair elections are anything but certain. Election integrity being the job of the Secretary of State, he may be less inclined to take the process for granted, or at least he may want to see some ID.
In poetic irony, the Democrat, from pioneer stock and raised on a farm in Morgan County, seems confused about the function of voting itself. She thinks it is a philosophy.
“Today the Indiana GOP removed all references of DEMOCRACY from its platform,” she tweeted recently. “In the face of this rising authoritarianism, good people refuse to stand by and do nothing. Our better angels must stand up. Vote for me and safeguard our treasured democracy!”
The United States is in fact a republic and not a democracy. Why? Because the men who founded the country had read the history of Greece, Rome and the Enlightenment. They understood that pure democracy not only does not protect against authoritarianism, monarchy, autocracy, totalitarianism or whatever, it ultimately ushers them in. “One man, one vote, once,” has been the tragedy of the Third World.
Her “treasured” democracy, then, is only an arguably better system of political succession than the guillotine, and is only indirectly related — if related at all — to wise or constrained government. Bunker Hill was not fought over democracy but rather, in the extant, because the government, the Crown, was imposing gun control.
The Democrat, though, does make a good point: To stop authoritarianism we as individuals must stand up to it. That will involve a great number of her fellow citizens restoring allegiance to the particular set of principles that constitutes Western Civilization.
It is a position that her party has rejected. His party is still thinking it over. — tcl