Beware of Greeks fearing gifts

The Greeks founded Europe, and now they may end it.  And the vehicle for both is the same:  Democracy.

The European powers carefully crafted a deal to bail out Greece, forgiving half of their debt at the cost of significant reforms and austerity measures.  With this agreement, the world’s stock markets soared.  But then the Greek government, despite its earlier agreement, suddenly decided to put the accord to the vote of the people.  Since the population seems opposed to  austerity, the prospect of a referendum has cast the agreement into doubt, sending the world’s stock markets into another dive and shaking the economic foundations of the Eurozone.

World leaders convening at this resort [Cannes] for a long-planned summit find themselves confronting a suddenly acute crisis over Greece and signs of an economic slowdown throughout Europe that may narrow their room for action.

Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou left a cabinet meeting in Athens early Wednesday with his government intact — for now — and backing his plan to hold a national referendum on the country’s latest international rescue program.

World leaders will gather in Cannes, France, on Nov. 3 and Nov. 4 to discuss Europe’s debt crisis and other economic issues. Thousands of protesters are gathering in France to urge the G-20 leaders to focus on the poor.

But his call for a popular vote on Tuesday has jeopardized the rescue plan and upended the agenda for Group of 20 leaders. Papandreou has been called to a meeting here Wednesday night to explain himself.

This was to have been a summit where the G-20 — the forum where industrialized nations and the leading developing economies compare notes on the world economy — puts its stamp on a plan that convincingly appeared to settle Europe’s lingering financial crisis.

Instead, with Cannes under a security lockdown that has made its streets into a virtual ghost town, the group will be looking for ways to avoid even greater problems. The 17-nation euro region is trying desperately to navigate between the budget-cutting and reform needed to bring down high levels of government debt, and the tepid economic growth that is sapping incomes, causing chronically high unemployment and straining political systems.

via World leaders to confer with Greece over referendum call – The Washington Post.

Do you think the Greek government was right to put the question of accepting the economic package to a popular referendum?  Does the world’s economic problems bring us to the limits of Democracy, the possibility that people will not vote to suffer, even when the alternative may be suffering on a far greater scale?  Can you see something like that happening here, with voters rejecting efforts to cut back federal spending AND repudiating new taxes AND demanding ever more entitlements, to the point of national bankruptcy?

UPDATE:  The Greek government has now scrapped the referendum.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Joe

    “Can you see something like that happening here, with voters rejecting efforts to cut back federal spending AND repudiating new taxes AND demanding ever more entitlements, to the point of national bankruptcy?”

    I do see it and I have seen it for years. The only difference between Greece’s fiscal mess and ours is timing. We have a little time left to make some changes. Their time has expired.

  • Joe

    “Can you see something like that happening here, with voters rejecting efforts to cut back federal spending AND repudiating new taxes AND demanding ever more entitlements, to the point of national bankruptcy?”

    I do see it and I have seen it for years. The only difference between Greece’s fiscal mess and ours is timing. We have a little time left to make some changes. Their time has expired.

  • SKPeterson

    I’m pretty sure that if everyone in America would send me $5, the economic crisis would be solved. I polled my family in a democratic vote, and they agree that this measure would be of benefit to us all. In expectation of the incoming funds, I have decided to spread the wealth. My son voted himself a new car, and to support the high-tech and computer industries, a new laptop, a new smart phone, an Xbox, a PS3, a Wii and numerous games for each platform. These will be paid for the expected increases in revenue. I may even ask people to increase their giving to $6 to cover any expected shortfalls. My wife put forth a motion to purchase several vacation homes, which was duly voted on in a public referendum. Democracy prevailed and the money should be getting here soon to pay for it. All I have to do is sit back, spend the money, and wait for those $6 bills to come rolling in.

  • SKPeterson

    I’m pretty sure that if everyone in America would send me $5, the economic crisis would be solved. I polled my family in a democratic vote, and they agree that this measure would be of benefit to us all. In expectation of the incoming funds, I have decided to spread the wealth. My son voted himself a new car, and to support the high-tech and computer industries, a new laptop, a new smart phone, an Xbox, a PS3, a Wii and numerous games for each platform. These will be paid for the expected increases in revenue. I may even ask people to increase their giving to $6 to cover any expected shortfalls. My wife put forth a motion to purchase several vacation homes, which was duly voted on in a public referendum. Democracy prevailed and the money should be getting here soon to pay for it. All I have to do is sit back, spend the money, and wait for those $6 bills to come rolling in.

  • http://www.redeemedrambling.blogspot.com/ John

    Do you think the Greek government was right to put the question of accepting the economic package to a popular referendum?
    No, darnit. At some point, leaders have to lead. Not everyone is capable of making wise economic choices. If you don’t believe me, drive past the sec.9 housing and count the Impalas up on 22″ rims…

  • http://www.redeemedrambling.blogspot.com/ John

    Do you think the Greek government was right to put the question of accepting the economic package to a popular referendum?
    No, darnit. At some point, leaders have to lead. Not everyone is capable of making wise economic choices. If you don’t believe me, drive past the sec.9 housing and count the Impalas up on 22″ rims…

  • Jerry

    John @3, I don’t have an Impala on 22″ rims, but I might as well. The greatest generation that came through the depression and WWII did their children a great disfavor by attempting to shield their children from what they had to go through.

    I plead guilty, and am praying that God will give me the wisdom I need in the current economic downturn.

    Leaders have to lead, but we’re in a democratic society which is not choosing wisdom at this time. Each man has to make these choices for themselves. Only when a majority come around will we have leaders who will lead in the right direction.

  • Jerry

    John @3, I don’t have an Impala on 22″ rims, but I might as well. The greatest generation that came through the depression and WWII did their children a great disfavor by attempting to shield their children from what they had to go through.

    I plead guilty, and am praying that God will give me the wisdom I need in the current economic downturn.

    Leaders have to lead, but we’re in a democratic society which is not choosing wisdom at this time. Each man has to make these choices for themselves. Only when a majority come around will we have leaders who will lead in the right direction.

  • steve

    Next stop: Tyranny.

  • steve

    Next stop: Tyranny.

  • DonS

    “Do you think the Greek government was right to put the question of accepting the economic package to a popular referendum?” — Of course not. It was a cop-out by someone who does not want to take a stand on the issue of their age. Representatives are elected to study issues and vote in a way that is consistent with what they believe is best for their country. Voters cannot begin to grasp all of the complexities of this economic issue and its consequences, particularly since they will not receive more than sound bites to go on, except for the very few who will do the type of study required to vote intelligently. Moreover, they will not have the time, as the referendum will reportedly occur as early as one month from now.

    Politicians want the power, but not the responsibility, of their office. Most refuse to take the hard actions that they believe may be a risk to that power.

    As for the other questions in the post, I agree with Joe @ 1.

  • DonS

    “Do you think the Greek government was right to put the question of accepting the economic package to a popular referendum?” — Of course not. It was a cop-out by someone who does not want to take a stand on the issue of their age. Representatives are elected to study issues and vote in a way that is consistent with what they believe is best for their country. Voters cannot begin to grasp all of the complexities of this economic issue and its consequences, particularly since they will not receive more than sound bites to go on, except for the very few who will do the type of study required to vote intelligently. Moreover, they will not have the time, as the referendum will reportedly occur as early as one month from now.

    Politicians want the power, but not the responsibility, of their office. Most refuse to take the hard actions that they believe may be a risk to that power.

    As for the other questions in the post, I agree with Joe @ 1.

  • Wayne A

    A republic is the rule of law.
    A democracy is mob rule.
    We were given a republic. Today it has become a democracy. Once people figure out they can vote themselves other people’s money it’s hard to break that dependance. I don’t think any country has successfully done it.

  • Wayne A

    A republic is the rule of law.
    A democracy is mob rule.
    We were given a republic. Today it has become a democracy. Once people figure out they can vote themselves other people’s money it’s hard to break that dependance. I don’t think any country has successfully done it.

  • fws

    we too have moved in the direction of a democracy.

    Don havent I heard you in the past favor referendums on gay marriage rather than leave the matter to elected officials in a small r republican government or to appointed judges?

    I would not at all be surprised if the fed govt eventually becomes like california with its horrible referendum system.

    I will assert this to consider as a thesis:

    Referendums have no place in a small r republican form of government.

  • fws

    we too have moved in the direction of a democracy.

    Don havent I heard you in the past favor referendums on gay marriage rather than leave the matter to elected officials in a small r republican government or to appointed judges?

    I would not at all be surprised if the fed govt eventually becomes like california with its horrible referendum system.

    I will assert this to consider as a thesis:

    Referendums have no place in a small r republican form of government.

  • DonS

    Frank @ 8: No, you didn’t hear that. It is always best for elected representatives to do their jobs, rather than punting tough choices to referenda.

    However, in California our legislators are bought and paid for by public employee unions, as well as far left activist groups. Citizen-initiated propositions are a necessary safety valve to ensure that the people still have some say in a government that often forgets it serves the people, including taxpayers, rather than the other way around.

  • DonS

    Frank @ 8: No, you didn’t hear that. It is always best for elected representatives to do their jobs, rather than punting tough choices to referenda.

    However, in California our legislators are bought and paid for by public employee unions, as well as far left activist groups. Citizen-initiated propositions are a necessary safety valve to ensure that the people still have some say in a government that often forgets it serves the people, including taxpayers, rather than the other way around.

  • fws

    Don s

    I would ask you to reconsider your position Don. I agree that politics in california are bought not just by the teachers union but also by the prison guards union and the very powerful state prison industry. and any number of other powerful groups.

    But I would ask you to consider that the remedy to this error is not to commit the other error of putting even the constitution to a majority vote.

    And that does in fact seem to be your position. It seems that in some situations you feel that asking for a majority vote by referendum is the proper method to right injustice.

    I am suggesting that a small r republican government, however corrupt is ALWAYS better than small d democratic rule that is precisely what a referendum is. Better to force the legislature to do the job God has given to them to do and not to the voters.

    Consider 20-30 years down the line when the interests of christians are put to that same popular vote. It will not be favorable to us Don.

  • fws

    Don s

    I would ask you to reconsider your position Don. I agree that politics in california are bought not just by the teachers union but also by the prison guards union and the very powerful state prison industry. and any number of other powerful groups.

    But I would ask you to consider that the remedy to this error is not to commit the other error of putting even the constitution to a majority vote.

    And that does in fact seem to be your position. It seems that in some situations you feel that asking for a majority vote by referendum is the proper method to right injustice.

    I am suggesting that a small r republican government, however corrupt is ALWAYS better than small d democratic rule that is precisely what a referendum is. Better to force the legislature to do the job God has given to them to do and not to the voters.

    Consider 20-30 years down the line when the interests of christians are put to that same popular vote. It will not be favorable to us Don.

  • DonS

    Frank,

    The rights of individual American citizens are protected, ultimately, by the federal constitution, which was applied to the states by the 14th Amendment. Because of this fact, there is no risk to those citizens of California because the people have retained for themselves a voice and a part in their government, which serves as a check on the otherwise unrestrained powers of a government which has forgotten that it is servant rather than master.

    The proposition process in California is the only way to “force the legislature to do the job God has given them to do”, unfortunately, given the fact that California is a one-party state and that party is in thrall to powerful special interests rather than the taxpayer.

  • DonS

    Frank,

    The rights of individual American citizens are protected, ultimately, by the federal constitution, which was applied to the states by the 14th Amendment. Because of this fact, there is no risk to those citizens of California because the people have retained for themselves a voice and a part in their government, which serves as a check on the otherwise unrestrained powers of a government which has forgotten that it is servant rather than master.

    The proposition process in California is the only way to “force the legislature to do the job God has given them to do”, unfortunately, given the fact that California is a one-party state and that party is in thrall to powerful special interests rather than the taxpayer.

  • fws

    don i would suggest that even the districting of california is about special interests. it is the colaboration of dems and republicans to each retain their seats. that is why the governator pushed for open primaries. not sure that was a great idea, but at least he tried to address that structural issue.

    again Don, you really think democratic referendum is the way to address this? why not the way massachussetts is structured contitutionallly, where it is REALLY hard for anyone to ride a crest of public opinion to force change because all the processes require at least 2 years to work through the legislature and courts….

    Now THAT I propose is what small r republicanism is supposed to look like.

    You are saying that democracy and the 51% vote is a safeguard against “abuse” of constitutional republicanism.

    I say that the 51% vote is anything but fair and is exactly rule by decree rather than rule by law.

    And you call yourself a conservative? !!

  • fws

    don i would suggest that even the districting of california is about special interests. it is the colaboration of dems and republicans to each retain their seats. that is why the governator pushed for open primaries. not sure that was a great idea, but at least he tried to address that structural issue.

    again Don, you really think democratic referendum is the way to address this? why not the way massachussetts is structured contitutionallly, where it is REALLY hard for anyone to ride a crest of public opinion to force change because all the processes require at least 2 years to work through the legislature and courts….

    Now THAT I propose is what small r republicanism is supposed to look like.

    You are saying that democracy and the 51% vote is a safeguard against “abuse” of constitutional republicanism.

    I say that the 51% vote is anything but fair and is exactly rule by decree rather than rule by law.

    And you call yourself a conservative? !!

  • fws

    don @ 11

    republicanism is precisely to protect the voice of the 49% or even the 5% against the will of the 51% . and it is especially to defend those who are part of a group that is unpopular.

    christians will rue the day that they favored rule by the 51% exactly as you do. It preserves the rights of NO one. not even the 51%!

  • fws

    don @ 11

    republicanism is precisely to protect the voice of the 49% or even the 5% against the will of the 51% . and it is especially to defend those who are part of a group that is unpopular.

    christians will rue the day that they favored rule by the 51% exactly as you do. It preserves the rights of NO one. not even the 51%!

  • fws

    don @ 11

    You seem to be saying that the Majority of the Voters=the will of “the people”.

    I think your reasoning is disturbingly and deeply flawed. There is nothing at all fair or magical or right about the 51st percentile.

    so what is it that you think you would preserve that advocating that method of deciding issues and even as a means to amend a constitution? Shouldnt a referendum at least be a super majority and maybe require two votes , one or two year apart, to pass. something that would more likely ensure the perspective of time, deliberation and avoid alot of evil?

    that is why Mass is more conservative. This is sort of what their system looks like. Then yes, the majority can prevail, but it will not be a majority that has been frenzied by the press or mass mailings or the passions of the moment.

    I ask you to reconsider your position dear brother.

  • fws

    don @ 11

    You seem to be saying that the Majority of the Voters=the will of “the people”.

    I think your reasoning is disturbingly and deeply flawed. There is nothing at all fair or magical or right about the 51st percentile.

    so what is it that you think you would preserve that advocating that method of deciding issues and even as a means to amend a constitution? Shouldnt a referendum at least be a super majority and maybe require two votes , one or two year apart, to pass. something that would more likely ensure the perspective of time, deliberation and avoid alot of evil?

    that is why Mass is more conservative. This is sort of what their system looks like. Then yes, the majority can prevail, but it will not be a majority that has been frenzied by the press or mass mailings or the passions of the moment.

    I ask you to reconsider your position dear brother.

  • fws

    don s

    so you are saying that it doesnt matter if the states have a flawed and awful system to protect the rights of the minority, because the feds can always step in and make things right if the state overstep its bound….

    eeeewwwww! that is soooo not conservative.

  • fws

    don s

    so you are saying that it doesnt matter if the states have a flawed and awful system to protect the rights of the minority, because the feds can always step in and make things right if the state overstep its bound….

    eeeewwwww! that is soooo not conservative.

  • DonS

    Frank @ 12-15: You don’t live here anymore, I do. Our legislature represents the radical environmentalists, the public employee unions, and other tax-eaters. It has no regard for small business, middle class jobs, or taxpayers. It is entirely dysfunctional and corrupt.

    I will not relinquish the one meager tool we the people have to thwart the worst excesses of our government “representatives” because you think that otherwise I am “soooo not conservative”.

    We disagree and I’m OK with that. We disagree on a lot of things. It is not the 51% who oppress the minority, it is our legislature, unfortunately. And the remedy for such oppression, whether it is perceived to be because of citizen vote or legislative action, is through enforcement of our U.S. Constitution. As it has always been, and as it always will be until the big government statists who comprise our establishment today finally succeed in vitiating individual rights and liberties permanently.

  • DonS

    Frank @ 12-15: You don’t live here anymore, I do. Our legislature represents the radical environmentalists, the public employee unions, and other tax-eaters. It has no regard for small business, middle class jobs, or taxpayers. It is entirely dysfunctional and corrupt.

    I will not relinquish the one meager tool we the people have to thwart the worst excesses of our government “representatives” because you think that otherwise I am “soooo not conservative”.

    We disagree and I’m OK with that. We disagree on a lot of things. It is not the 51% who oppress the minority, it is our legislature, unfortunately. And the remedy for such oppression, whether it is perceived to be because of citizen vote or legislative action, is through enforcement of our U.S. Constitution. As it has always been, and as it always will be until the big government statists who comprise our establishment today finally succeed in vitiating individual rights and liberties permanently.

  • fws

    don s

    yes. we disagree. our point of disagreement is that you feel that democracy and majority rule are a good thing.

    i believe, and our founding fathers agreed, that democracy was and is always evil.

  • fws

    don s

    yes. we disagree. our point of disagreement is that you feel that democracy and majority rule are a good thing.

    i believe, and our founding fathers agreed, that democracy was and is always evil.

  • DonS

    FWS: I’ll stand by my own statement of my beliefs — I’m not sure why you felt the need to re-state and misrepresent them. I will refrain from doing you the same injustice.

  • DonS

    FWS: I’ll stand by my own statement of my beliefs — I’m not sure why you felt the need to re-state and misrepresent them. I will refrain from doing you the same injustice.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    I am frequently told — especially by “conservatives” holding to federalism — that the states are “laboratories of democracy”. Perhaps you should try a different laboratory, Don?

    One might also note that the Constitution (if that still matters) guarantees “to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government” — as distinguished from the democracy that Don here upholds. As James Madison wrote in the Federalist Papers:

    Democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths.

    It would be the odd conservative who sniffed at such a statement.

    Democracy is not, as Don claims, “the one meager tool we the people have to thwart the worst excesses of our government”. It is, in fact, the one tool we the people have to enact the worst excesses of our government.

    Give it time, though. As Christians become less influential, we’ll check in on your belief that the 51% do not oppress minorities.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    I am frequently told — especially by “conservatives” holding to federalism — that the states are “laboratories of democracy”. Perhaps you should try a different laboratory, Don?

    One might also note that the Constitution (if that still matters) guarantees “to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government” — as distinguished from the democracy that Don here upholds. As James Madison wrote in the Federalist Papers:

    Democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths.

    It would be the odd conservative who sniffed at such a statement.

    Democracy is not, as Don claims, “the one meager tool we the people have to thwart the worst excesses of our government”. It is, in fact, the one tool we the people have to enact the worst excesses of our government.

    Give it time, though. As Christians become less influential, we’ll check in on your belief that the 51% do not oppress minorities.

  • Joe

    tODD – thanks for posting that quote. I typed up a great defense of republican form over the democratic form this morning complete with quotes from Federalist No. 10 and then I accidentally closed the browser. I don’t have the will to do it again …

  • Joe

    tODD – thanks for posting that quote. I typed up a great defense of republican form over the democratic form this morning complete with quotes from Federalist No. 10 and then I accidentally closed the browser. I don’t have the will to do it again …

  • DonS

    No one is advocating a democratic form of government OVER a republican form of government. The arguments being posited are directed to an absurd straw man. California has a republican form of government, as guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.

  • DonS

    No one is advocating a democratic form of government OVER a republican form of government. The arguments being posited are directed to an absurd straw man. California has a republican form of government, as guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.

  • Joe

    Don – I actually disagree. Ballot initiative and referendum are inherently anti-republican. I think a case can be made that their presence in the California system renders the system so far to the democracy side of the spectrum that it is anti-republican.

    The Court gutted the Guaranty Clause in 1912 in Pacific States Telephone and Telegraph Company v. Oregon, 223 U.S. 118, holding that it was a non-justiciable political questions, and that the decision of whether a state is republican in conformance with the guarantee clause may be decided only by Congress.

    Congress of course does not and will never vote on such matters. The only working theory that attempts to claim that Congress speaks on this issue is the theory that the Congress expresses its determination of whether a state’s gov’t is republican when it seats the state’s congressmen and senators. Of course, this process does not yield an opportunity for the two houses to speak with one voice and could lead to the house saying yes and the senate saying no.

  • Joe

    Don – I actually disagree. Ballot initiative and referendum are inherently anti-republican. I think a case can be made that their presence in the California system renders the system so far to the democracy side of the spectrum that it is anti-republican.

    The Court gutted the Guaranty Clause in 1912 in Pacific States Telephone and Telegraph Company v. Oregon, 223 U.S. 118, holding that it was a non-justiciable political questions, and that the decision of whether a state is republican in conformance with the guarantee clause may be decided only by Congress.

    Congress of course does not and will never vote on such matters. The only working theory that attempts to claim that Congress speaks on this issue is the theory that the Congress expresses its determination of whether a state’s gov’t is republican when it seats the state’s congressmen and senators. Of course, this process does not yield an opportunity for the two houses to speak with one voice and could lead to the house saying yes and the senate saying no.

  • DonS

    Joe: We’ll have to agree to disagree. The established government of CA is republican in form, with a governor (executive branch) and a bicameral legislature. The referendum process, as is true in many states, is an adjunct to that republican form of government, an additional check. Yes, it is easier to qualify an initiative in this state than in others, but it’s very hard to argue that the state is governed democratically.

    Now, personally, I would prefer a curtailment in the initiative power in California, to the extent that additional programs should not be established by initiative. It should be solely a check on otherwise runaway legislative or judicial power, i.e. Proposition 13′s restrictions on increasing property taxes, Proposition 8, Proposition 26 (defining fee increases as tax increases, requiring a 2/3 vote of the legislature for passage), and things like that.

    If you lived here, you’d understand.

  • DonS

    Joe: We’ll have to agree to disagree. The established government of CA is republican in form, with a governor (executive branch) and a bicameral legislature. The referendum process, as is true in many states, is an adjunct to that republican form of government, an additional check. Yes, it is easier to qualify an initiative in this state than in others, but it’s very hard to argue that the state is governed democratically.

    Now, personally, I would prefer a curtailment in the initiative power in California, to the extent that additional programs should not be established by initiative. It should be solely a check on otherwise runaway legislative or judicial power, i.e. Proposition 13′s restrictions on increasing property taxes, Proposition 8, Proposition 26 (defining fee increases as tax increases, requiring a 2/3 vote of the legislature for passage), and things like that.

    If you lived here, you’d understand.

  • fws

    don s @ 23

    I lived in cali from 82-96 and I daily read the cal papers. all of them. even the republican ones. online.

    There is nothing that Joe cannot understand without the need to live in california. That is silly.

    get online and study the history of the proposition system that was put in place at the turn of the last century to see whos company you are keeping philosophically Don.

    That system is part and parcel of an entire system put in place. it all was anti republican to the core.

    Will you still think this way when the majority turns against you?

    so in a church voters meeting or in a classroom or on a playground or wherever…do you feel it is fair or right to take a vote and have the 51% dictate to the 49%? that is just wrong Don.

    That is precisely where we disagree isnt it? The entire concept of a constitution is that it is to rein in the majority and their will. that is why most states and countries (minus california!) require super majorities, and at least a couple of consecutive votes spaced years apart to change a constitution.

    California? meh. a simple majority can change the constitution at whim. Explain to me how that is republican Don?

  • fws

    don s @ 23

    I lived in cali from 82-96 and I daily read the cal papers. all of them. even the republican ones. online.

    There is nothing that Joe cannot understand without the need to live in california. That is silly.

    get online and study the history of the proposition system that was put in place at the turn of the last century to see whos company you are keeping philosophically Don.

    That system is part and parcel of an entire system put in place. it all was anti republican to the core.

    Will you still think this way when the majority turns against you?

    so in a church voters meeting or in a classroom or on a playground or wherever…do you feel it is fair or right to take a vote and have the 51% dictate to the 49%? that is just wrong Don.

    That is precisely where we disagree isnt it? The entire concept of a constitution is that it is to rein in the majority and their will. that is why most states and countries (minus california!) require super majorities, and at least a couple of consecutive votes spaced years apart to change a constitution.

    California? meh. a simple majority can change the constitution at whim. Explain to me how that is republican Don?

  • fws

    Don , you need to get more conservative on this issue. really. consider the consequences when christians are an even less favored minority than they are now. as Todd said….

  • fws

    Don , you need to get more conservative on this issue. really. consider the consequences when christians are an even less favored minority than they are now. as Todd said….

  • fws

    many support democracy today because they reason that the means justify a righteous end. (eg Don).
    I observe that in a republic, the ends are justified by the means themselves.

    I mean by that, that we may not like the results of the republican process in some particular cases, but if that process is followed with attention to due process, the results will cement in place more protections for the individual in the form of case precedents.

    so when bad men get into power, they are less able to do damage. And that is really the entire point! that is the ball we want to keep our eyes upon. how would things look if bad men came to power. also bad men in the form of a majority whipped up by demagogues into a frenzy.

  • fws

    many support democracy today because they reason that the means justify a righteous end. (eg Don).
    I observe that in a republic, the ends are justified by the means themselves.

    I mean by that, that we may not like the results of the republican process in some particular cases, but if that process is followed with attention to due process, the results will cement in place more protections for the individual in the form of case precedents.

    so when bad men get into power, they are less able to do damage. And that is really the entire point! that is the ball we want to keep our eyes upon. how would things look if bad men came to power. also bad men in the form of a majority whipped up by demagogues into a frenzy.

  • DonS

    Oh, please, Frank. Stop it, already.

    I know the history of the Progressive movement in California — there is actually much to commend it. The goals of Hiram Johnson and his allies 100 years ago were similar to those of the Tea Party today — to root out corruption and unresponsiveness in a government full of fat cats that had forgotten it was supposed to represent the people, particularly the taxpayer. You keep applying this “conservative” label, apparently in some lame attempt to shame me into falling into an ideological box more to your liking. Well, hear this. The modern liberal has a lot more in common with the “conservative” of 100 years ago than we conservatives do today, and vice-versa. We who are conservative today value individual liberty and freedom, and limited government in the way that liberals did back in the day, before they began instead to turn , grow, and embrace government for the power it gave them, and forgot to care any more about protecting the little guy from the powerful — typically big business in league with big government. The sad fact of the matter is that the taxpayer has no representation in government today, because it is beset with tax eaters and those who enable them, for the sheer power in it. Hence, we need to wield whatever tools we can to keep our so-called “representatives” in check.

    Will you still think this way when the majority turns against you?

    so in a church voters meeting or in a classroom or on a playground or wherever…do you feel it is fair or right to take a vote and have the 51% dictate to the 49%? that is just wrong Don.

    What are you talking about? Our government operates on the principle of majority rule — the 51% dictate to the 49% all of the time. That’s the way both a democracy and a democratic republic work. The protection the minority has from majority tyranny are the guarantees provided by the Bill of Rights. These are the same for all Americans, in whichever state they are situated.

    By the way, as for churches, they shouldn’t operate in the same way as civil government. At least on the boards on which I have served, we have operated only in unanimity or near-unanimity — and you are not “dictating” to the minority in any event. You are submitting humbly to God, and trusting in His leadership.

  • DonS

    Oh, please, Frank. Stop it, already.

    I know the history of the Progressive movement in California — there is actually much to commend it. The goals of Hiram Johnson and his allies 100 years ago were similar to those of the Tea Party today — to root out corruption and unresponsiveness in a government full of fat cats that had forgotten it was supposed to represent the people, particularly the taxpayer. You keep applying this “conservative” label, apparently in some lame attempt to shame me into falling into an ideological box more to your liking. Well, hear this. The modern liberal has a lot more in common with the “conservative” of 100 years ago than we conservatives do today, and vice-versa. We who are conservative today value individual liberty and freedom, and limited government in the way that liberals did back in the day, before they began instead to turn , grow, and embrace government for the power it gave them, and forgot to care any more about protecting the little guy from the powerful — typically big business in league with big government. The sad fact of the matter is that the taxpayer has no representation in government today, because it is beset with tax eaters and those who enable them, for the sheer power in it. Hence, we need to wield whatever tools we can to keep our so-called “representatives” in check.

    Will you still think this way when the majority turns against you?

    so in a church voters meeting or in a classroom or on a playground or wherever…do you feel it is fair or right to take a vote and have the 51% dictate to the 49%? that is just wrong Don.

    What are you talking about? Our government operates on the principle of majority rule — the 51% dictate to the 49% all of the time. That’s the way both a democracy and a democratic republic work. The protection the minority has from majority tyranny are the guarantees provided by the Bill of Rights. These are the same for all Americans, in whichever state they are situated.

    By the way, as for churches, they shouldn’t operate in the same way as civil government. At least on the boards on which I have served, we have operated only in unanimity or near-unanimity — and you are not “dictating” to the minority in any event. You are submitting humbly to God, and trusting in His leadership.

  • fws

    Don S @27

    “What are you talking about? Our government operates on the principle of majority rule — the 51% dictate to the 49% all of the time. That’s the way both a democracy and a democratic republic work.”

    Is that really true? In the senate there are lots of byzantine rules that prevent the majority there from simply passing whatever they want. Then there is the bicameral legislature that also seems designed to thwart a simple majority as well. Then there are the other two branches of governmentment, then… well… I hope you see what I am aiming at and it is this:

    Our government seems designed, at almost every step of it’ process to precisely oppose the rule of the 51% and if it doesn’t do that, then it forces the wheels of change to grind so very slowly that the more radical elements proposing change run outta steam before they get what they want. Finally, we are talking about representative government and not even a direct vote. So what is up with that? Electoral college. Senators used to be voted in by the state legislatures (wish it were still that way). Judges are …um…..for … um… life.

    What that would have looked like, in all the propositions you mentioned, would have looked alot like , would have been like Mass. That is the reason there was NO Prop 8 in Mass. The hurdles to overcoming the court ruling were just too defiant of a mass mailing campaign.

    I would suggest that Massachussets, not California, is what the founding fathers envisioned by that word “republic” in how hard it is for that 51% to exercise their will over the 49% .

    And Don, yes, you are right in a way: eventually the 51% WILL find a way to exercise its way over that 49% . And I hope I pointed out that the very essence of our american system was in every way designed to thwart that for as long as possible.

    I am so glad that in your church you try to achieve unanimity in voting. I was president of a Lutheran congretation earlier and I had not yet learned that lesson and it did not turn out well for anyone.

    Finally about the progressives: I think that liberals, progressives and conservatives and communists, socialists and many christians share something of evil in common, being all Old Adam. And that thing is this:

    It is “us” vs “them”. We get stirred up by painting the other side as immoral or otherwise radically different from “us”. I would suggest that the genius of the founding fathers is that they avoided exactly that error of party spirit and acknowledged that the seeds of the real problem was in all of them as well.

    Don, you and I have become friends and are having a debate about some profound principles. When prop 8 was being passed, was the “they” always painted to look like someone like me? Or were the painted as the barbarian hordes at the gate waiting to destroy order as we know it? This kind of debate we are having that avoids character evaluations is missing in our society isnt it? Cf the other thread where the 8th commandment is being debated….

  • fws

    Don S @27

    “What are you talking about? Our government operates on the principle of majority rule — the 51% dictate to the 49% all of the time. That’s the way both a democracy and a democratic republic work.”

    Is that really true? In the senate there are lots of byzantine rules that prevent the majority there from simply passing whatever they want. Then there is the bicameral legislature that also seems designed to thwart a simple majority as well. Then there are the other two branches of governmentment, then… well… I hope you see what I am aiming at and it is this:

    Our government seems designed, at almost every step of it’ process to precisely oppose the rule of the 51% and if it doesn’t do that, then it forces the wheels of change to grind so very slowly that the more radical elements proposing change run outta steam before they get what they want. Finally, we are talking about representative government and not even a direct vote. So what is up with that? Electoral college. Senators used to be voted in by the state legislatures (wish it were still that way). Judges are …um…..for … um… life.

    What that would have looked like, in all the propositions you mentioned, would have looked alot like , would have been like Mass. That is the reason there was NO Prop 8 in Mass. The hurdles to overcoming the court ruling were just too defiant of a mass mailing campaign.

    I would suggest that Massachussets, not California, is what the founding fathers envisioned by that word “republic” in how hard it is for that 51% to exercise their will over the 49% .

    And Don, yes, you are right in a way: eventually the 51% WILL find a way to exercise its way over that 49% . And I hope I pointed out that the very essence of our american system was in every way designed to thwart that for as long as possible.

    I am so glad that in your church you try to achieve unanimity in voting. I was president of a Lutheran congretation earlier and I had not yet learned that lesson and it did not turn out well for anyone.

    Finally about the progressives: I think that liberals, progressives and conservatives and communists, socialists and many christians share something of evil in common, being all Old Adam. And that thing is this:

    It is “us” vs “them”. We get stirred up by painting the other side as immoral or otherwise radically different from “us”. I would suggest that the genius of the founding fathers is that they avoided exactly that error of party spirit and acknowledged that the seeds of the real problem was in all of them as well.

    Don, you and I have become friends and are having a debate about some profound principles. When prop 8 was being passed, was the “they” always painted to look like someone like me? Or were the painted as the barbarian hordes at the gate waiting to destroy order as we know it? This kind of debate we are having that avoids character evaluations is missing in our society isnt it? Cf the other thread where the 8th commandment is being debated….


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