Friday, March 31, 2006

Does Democracy Require Revolution?

The United States was born in flames. When the British attempted to recapture their prize in 1812, the White House was burned to the ground. The American Revolution was bloody. Out of it, as the best possible compromise between the colonies, a democracy was formed.

In a democracy, each election is a dance between the old and the new. Sometimes the old survives, sometimes the new replaces it. Each election contains a revolution in miniature.

In the American system, the Democratic Party does its best to corral and incorporate into itself every revolutionary movement that appears. The strong anti-war movement of 2002-2003 became the Dean candidacy. This was folded into the Kerry candidacy. Suddenly America's choice was between two Crossbones Club Yalies, one of whom despised the war in which he had enlisted, the other of whom loved the war in which he hadn't.

If the Democratic Party sits atop a steaming heap of frustrated mass movements, the Republican Party sits in marble halls admiring itself in the mirror, the adoring words of bought thought soothing its ears and misguiding its actions. It presumes to speak for small business as it sells the cow to pay the milk bill.

The Republicans understand salesmanship but lack human sensitivity. The Democrats have human sensitivity but fail to understand salesmanship.

In a two-party system, the parties can come to represent any pair of opposites. The Republicans love vertical relationships. Authority travels vertically. The Democrats love lateral relationships. Mankind's love for itself travels laterally. The Republicans speak for the worth of what is and what was, while the Democrats can't stop singing about tomorrow.

Revolution is inevitable.


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