A Man Without a City
I HAVE THE COMPLETE off-year election results in front of me. My analysis? God seems to use elections to warn us that democracy is not going to be our salvation.
Around here, we unthinkably reelect everybody. Our top council vote-getter is a race merchant with a socialist bent. Our pay-to-play mayor won his fifth term without risking a single original thought.
Democracy killed Socrates, you know, the father of Western philosophy — and on a slim 60-vote margin. One man, one vote, once, ushered in the tyrannical reigns of Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Castro, Mao and Gavin Newsom. Look, it is an amoral mathematical process of selecting leadership that is only slightly more humane than the guillotine.
A favorite story relates a meeting between President Theodore Roosevelt and the Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph. In their talk, Teddy asked the emperor whether monarchy would have a role in 20th century Europe. “Somebody has to protect the people from their government,” the emperor replied.
Go full circle and some of my friends are now saying that democracy is under existential threat itself, that the election of this fellow or that will “break our democracy.” I don’t know what they are talking about.
Democracy can only be said to “work” in homogeneous populations where factionalism is at a minimum. The pluperfect examples are from democracy’s inception: heavily armed Norse farmers voting on the coordinates before clamoring into a boat to raid Christian monasteries; or Greek farmers voting with pottery shards before grabbing their swords to hack away at their neighbors over olive groves. Take your pick.
In what America has become — a nation dividing by multiple shades of skin pigment with overlaying templates of religion, class, income, education and origin — it can be argued that it doesn’t work any more at all. The last two decades have taught us that our vote can be manipulated to meaninglessness. How else do you explain either Joe Biden or Donald Trump? And given those two, what really have we got to lose? Are we merely fighting over who counts the mail-in ballots?
Jude Wanniski, the legendary Wall Street Journal columnist, described the process like this: A citizen goes to the polls intent on voting for a chicken. Once in the booth he sees that the choice is only between a turkey vulture and a snake. He choses the turkey vulture as the closer manifestation of his democratic will.
We are being governed by turkey vultures.
The people elected Tuesday off my ballot are all charming enough, the kind you would like as neighbors if you didn’t have to invite them over for dinner. They are not people capable of protecting our property or our values or our families — which, lest we forget, is the point of leadership.
So I have no city I can call mine, and I lost my country some time ago. There is no democratically elected official to whom I can point and say “He’s my kind of guy” or “It’s about time somebody did something about that.”
Instead, I am caught between feuding camps of the rapacious and the envious, all indifferent to actual civic problems. We can’t get rid of our county chairman let alone our state senator. Our politicians have a 10 percent favorability rating but an 85 percent reelection rate. Explain that.
But wait, as I close out this column a bit of good news hits my desk from far, far away. Wichita, Kansas, of all places, has elected a Guatemalan-born Chinese-American as its mayor. She is Lily Wu, a first-time candidate who believes in personal responsibility and common law.
Wu, raised in Wichita and educated in its public schools, pledged to cut regulations, fight tax increases and end “sweetheart deals” at City Hall. She centered her campaign on hiring more police officers and increasing their pay. Her opponent was an insufferably woke incumbent named Whipple.
Lily Wu for president, I say . . . or for emperor, depending on how things go. — tcl