Over the past few weeks, racial conflict in the United States has led to some outrageous proposals – many driven by strong passions and all driven by the licking of perceived systemic wounds. These proposals have ranged from defunding and abolishing police departments to removing police officers from every aspect of society possible. The latest removal is kicking cops out of schools. The strong passions and the perceived systemic wounds have also led to ill-advised executive actions as well – namely, the politically motivated and certainly botched prosecutions of police officers. Regardless of whether you love or hate the trends, you should worry – and worry a lot – about the hasty policy and enforcement measures being taken in the name of redressing perceived systemic wrong.
The media and the mob ignored Trayvon Martin’s family’s statement within the past week. Once the political darlings of the media and the mob for the headlines that they generated and the opportunity to engage in racial war against the system, they have now become a political inconvenience. Why? Martin’s mother said, “We need more police.” The Black Lives Matter movement forgot that her son lost his life at the hands of a community policing measure rather than a cop. As much as I think George Zimmerman deserved his acquittal, I would rather have a trained police officer patrolling my neighborhood rather than an untrained crackpot who will be an officious, heavy-handed busybody.
As further proof of their willful memory loss, the media and the mob forget that the school shootings that have happened over the past decade. Living in Connecticut makes it hard to forget. The state still remembers the Sandy Hook massacre. What about the Parkland school shooting? Grant it, Parkland had a cop who either got confused or turned yellow. However, there’s no indication that Sandy Hook had one. Pulling police from schools? Who’s going to protect your kids from the next Adam Lanza or Nikolas Cruz?
Our nation was founded as a republic, not a democracy. Both the Founding Fathers and the Framers of the Constitution were students of history and philosophy. They understood that a pure democracy and its underlying reliance on popular decision-making fostered dangerous “instability, injustice, and confusion… [in] the public councils” to quote James Madison.
In Federalist #10, Madison wrote as follows to the state of New York during the ratification of the U.S. Constitution:
Among the numerous advantages promised by a wellconstructed Union, none deserves to be more accurately developed than its tendency to break and control the violence of faction. The friend of popular governments never finds himself so much alarmed for their character and fate, as when he contemplates their propensity to this dangerous vice.
Madison’s main purpose in writing to the staid New Yorkers was to address their concerns on how the proposed Constitution would ensure stable government that represented and protected the rights of all. A bit of context is necessary. During the colonial period and the period of the Articles of Confederation government, there was a natural rivalry between the cultures of New York, Virginia, and Pennsylvania. New Yorkers were certainly concerned that being bound to a national government could leave them at their cultural rivals’ mercy.
Consequently, Madison’s case to New York was that, while a pure democracy could offer them no protection from the fickle whims of the people, a republic could. The natural advantage that a republic serves is that it can “refine and enlarge the public views, by passing them through the medium of a chosen body of citizens, whose wisdom may best discern the true interest of their country, and whose patriotism and love of justice will be least likely to sacrifice it to temporary or partial considerations.”
We do not have such a refinement of views right now. Instead, we have strong and violent passions – the product of a stoked racial war – driving policy decisions without consideration for the consequences. That is dangerous. Your kids will be left unguarded in the schools. George Zimmermans could be patrolling your neighborhood and responding to your calls for help. Ask Trayvon Martin how that one worked out.
In conclusion, I will commit political suicide. I am no friend of democracy. It poses a tremendous threat to an ordered structure of individual liberty and security, and it should now be crystal clear to you too. I am an advocate for republicanism – a system that can check violent passions and, if possible, refine their views into considered policy proposals without disregarding other interests that everyone has. However, we all appear to be destined to become the victims of democracy as our interests and, quite possibly, our individual liberties get sacrificed on the altar of violent passions.