Whatever the legislature decides about the Wall Street bailout, it is evident that most of the American people oppose it. This seems to be true of both liberals and conservatives, Democrats and Republicans.
The conventional wisdom among our rulers, of course, is that these matters are very technical and complicated, things ordinary citizens just do not understand. But still, even setting aside the condescension to voters that afflicts our ruling class. . .Under a democracy–or even a democratic republic–the people are supposed to be the ultimate rulers. For that system to work, the people have to be educated enough to understand the issues they must deal with (which is why classical liberal education developed, defined as the education fitting for a free [libera] citizen). Yes, we have reverted to education “servilis” (the education fitted for a slave, consisting of mere job training), which makes self-government far more difficult. Still, our politicians are supposed to answer to the people.
Theoretically, politicians convinced a certain course is right should try to persuade–or educate–the people before taking a major course of action they would oppose. I realize the arguments about the dangers of mass democracy vs. the need for autonomous lawmakers, but surely the will of the people should have some relevance. Is the people’s only power over their government one that comes every few years when they can vote someone out of office? Doesn’t democracy entail more than that?