Written by Frank Li
America is a very young country (as compared with China, for example) and Americans often take many old things as new, innocently and ignorantly. Two examples:
Fiat money: It was invented by the Chinese more than 1,000 years ago!
Money printing: It has been used, misused, and abused, by many governments around the world ever since fiat money was invented.
However, no old-as-new has been more damaging to America than democracy, which was invented by the Romans and Greeks more than 2,000 years ago. Both of them ultimately failed for the same reason: debts!
In short, democracy is a proven failure throughout human history, as opposed to “built to last” (Built to Last: Structure and Conscience)!
This article highlights the top 10 American misconceptions about democracy.
But first, what is democracy, anyway? According to Wikipedia,
Democracy is a form of government in which all citizens have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives. Democracy allows citizens to participate equally—either directly or through elected representatives—in the proposal, development, and creation of laws. It encompasses social, economic and cultural conditions that enable the free and equal practice of political self-determination.
Several variants of democracy exist, but there are two basic forms, both of which concern how the whole body of all citizens executes its will. One form of democracy is direct democracy, in which all citizens have direct and active participation in the decision making of the government. In most modern democracies, the whole body of all citizens remain the sovereign power but political power is exercised indirectly through elected representatives; this is called representative democracy. The concept of representative democracy arose largely from ideas and institutions that developed during the European Middle Ages, the Age of Enlightenment, and the American and French Revolutions.
Here is a simple but succinct definition of “pure” democracy: one person, one vote.
Misconception 1: The U.S. has been a democracy since her first day
The U.S. has been loosely called a democracy since her inception on July 4, 1776. However, by the simple but succinct definition of one person, one vote, democracy did not exist in the U.S. until 1964.
Misconception 2: The U.S. was built as a democracy
The U.S. was not built as a “pure” democracy (i.e. one person, one vote)! Instead, the U.S. was built as a republic with “limited” democracy, specifically without one person, one vote! For more, read: America: Republic vs. Democracy.
Misconception 3: What did the founding fathers want, really?
The founding fathers never intended America to be a “pure” democracy (i.e. one person, one vote)! For proof, just look at these two sources:
- The U.S. Constitution.
- The thoughts and words of the founding fathers.
“We, the People”, so begins the U.S. Constitution. But who are “the People” referenced? To the founding fathers, “the People” included only certain rich white men; others were excluded as follows:
- Women were not allowed to vote, nor were the minorities. The founding fathers were simply wrong on this – Apparently, they did not understand true equality!
- Only the rich were able to serve, since all the top political offices (e.g. Congress and the American Presidency) were unpaid! Yes, first you had to make it (i.e. becoming financially independent), then you served with honor for a few years, and finally you returned home after doing your duty to your country. No, serving was never meant to be a way of life – not even to make a living, let alone a career! The founding fathers were right on this, almost completely!
Now, what did the founding fathers think of democracy, really? They did not believe in “pure” democracy and they did not like it! Two examples:
“Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.”
— John Adams
“A democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where fifty-one-percent of the people may take away the rights of the other forty-nine.”
— Thomas Jefferson
Misconception 4: The U.S. leads mankind in democracy
Democracy was invented and practiced by the Romans and Greeks more than 2,000 years ago. Both ultimately failed for the same reason: debts!
Misconception 5: Democracy has succeeded in America
Although American democracy is less than 50 years old (from 1964 to present), it is already failing badly, destroying America faster and harsher than any other forces! In the words of Abraham Lincoln: “America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.”
Worse yet, democracy is failing in America today in the same way as it failed in Rome and Greece more than 2,000 years ago: debts!
Misconception 6: America’s government is of/by/for the people
Think again! Two perspectives:
- Are our children and their children people too? If yes, do you still think it right that we spend their financial futures like there is no tomorrow?
- If Congress is of/by/for the people, why is its disapproval rate at 87% among Americans?
Misconception 7: Democracy is not perfect but it’s still the best system available
Most Americans [blindly] believe in democracy, thanks, in a large part, to brainwashing, despite the fact that more and more Americans are now saying “our democracy is broken”, here and there (e.g. on guns or debts). Here is a pertinent fact: democracy is not broken; today, democracy in the U.S. works exactly according to its script of more than 2,000 years old. Unfortunately, the script is a proven failure. Therefore, American democracy, as we practice it today, is hopelessly doomed!
On the other hand, the Chinese system (capitalism + autocracy), albeit with many endemic problems of its own, appears to be slightly better than democracy. Nothing is more straightforward than by comparing the top three leaders between the U.S. and China (Top Three Leaders: the U.S vs. China). For more, read: Saving America, Chinese Style.
Misconception 8: Democracy is a cornerstone for America
Democracy is not a cornerstone of America! Capitalism is! Democracy is merely a nice-to-have luxury. America can no longer afford this luxury!
Bottom line: the political system does not matter, as long as it embraces capitalism, which is the key difference between China and the U.S. today!
Misconception 9: America has been rightfully spreading democracy
America has been spreading democracy all over the world, even by force as in the case of Iraq. But it has always been dead wrong! For more, read: What’s The Real Cost of The Iraq War?
Misconception 10: American democracy is finished
Not yet! American democracy, as we know it today, must be substantially and specifically reformed, as I suggested (Saving America, Chinese Style), in order to have a chance to survive!
Now, if you have come to this point, here is your reward: You can download the book Saving America, Chinese Style, free of charge, on this coming Memorial Day: May 27, 2013!