What is the Future for America’s Experiment with Democracy?

In his novel The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemingway’s character Mike Campbell is asked how he went bankrupt. “Two ways,” he says. “Gradually and then suddenly.” That seems to be true, mutatis mutandis, of revolutions too: some are measured, peaceful; some are not.

In thirteenth-century England, King John was, roughly speaking, a tyrant. In a move that is considered a significant step toward the development of modern constitutional law and democracy in the Western world, the English barons met John at Runnymede in 1215 and forced him to sign the “Runnymede Agreement,” which established the principle that everyone, including the king, was subject to the law. That was a peaceful, and sort of gradual, step toward modern government.

The Dutch Revolt, also known as the Eighty Years’ War, was a series of uprisings in the Low Countries that began in 1568 and led to the formation of the independent Dutch Republic. The revolt was largely peaceful, although there were some violent clashes between the Dutch rebels and Spanish forces.

The Glorious Revolution, which took place in England in 1688, was another relatively peaceful operation that managed the overthrow of King James II and the establishment of a constitutional monarchy. The event was significant because it established the principle of parliamentary sovereignty and limited the power of the monarchy.

The Belgian Revolution of 1830, which led to the separation of Belgium from the Netherlands, was largely peaceful, although there were some isolated incidents of violence.

Au contraire, however, was the French Revolution: it was one of the most violent, bloody, and far-reaching revolutions in European history, characterized by mass popular uprisings, executions, and political turmoil that lasted from 1789 to 1799.

The United States is now on what many believe to be an unsustainable course. There’s a lot that’s wrong, and lot of it began with the 2020 election.

Whether or not the election was stolen, in the sense of Republican ballots not being counted or Democrat ballots being manufactured and stuffed into ballot boxes late at night, is really no longer the issue—except to fanatics (of whom the 2020 loser in the presidential election is the most fanatical).

The real election issues are the changes that were made in voting procedures and the manipulation and suppression of information relevant to the voters. Now-Secretary of State Antony Blinken organized a lying fest in which he got 50 national security types to state in writing that the Hunter Biden laptop (which had been in the FBI’s possession for more than a year) was a Russian disinformation operation. We know it was not. What it was was an Antony Blinken disinformation (дезинформация) operation. Then, as we learned from Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, the FBI piled on, warning media outlets that the impending dump of anti-Biden information gleaned from the laptop was probably a Russian plot. That’s why you heard almost nothing about it from the mainstream press during the election.

And even up til press time today—but surely this does not surprise a sophisticated reader—the New York Times has made not a single critical mention of Antony Blinken’s (Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s!) role as the mastermind behind the Soviet-style дезинформация operation. And they called Nixon “Tricky!”

We digress to ask why any foreign government should believe anything Blinken says? He has no credibility—which, one could say (and should) makes him the perfect secretary of state for the Biden administration.

But dishonest Blinken is not the only wart on the Biden administration’s face. There is also, inter alia, the stunningly dishonest secretary of Homeland Security, Alejandro Mayorkas, who has repeatedly said, despite extensive television coverage showing the contrary, that the southern U.S. border is secure. Who you gonna believe, him or your own eyes?

And as a result of Biden’s perfidy—allowing millions of illegals to cross the border—we have a fentanyl epidemic: more than 110,000 people died of fentanyl in 2022.

And of course, there’s a lot more that’s wrong, that’s deliberately wrong, deliberately because what is happening is what the Biden administration, Biden, and his cronies and their allies in Congress, intend to have happen.

They are destroying the currency by passing massive spending bills; they demand equality of outcome, not of opportunity; they seek to destroy our energy supply, replacing it with the absurdity of the “green new deal;” they are enfeebling the military by demanding woke behavior from service men and women; they bang the racial drum from morning til night; they want to eliminate the filibuster and the Electoral College, pack the Supreme Court, command all states to follow a federal election law, weaponize the law enforcement agencies and the FBI; require everyone to ignore the obviousness of there being only two sexes; eliminate parental control over children so they can be chemically or surgically disfigured according to the dictates of sex-deniers; they are spending more on climate nonsense, welfare, and student loans than on defense.

But wait: there’s more. They tried to subvert the justice system to give the president’s son a sweetheart plea bargain deal and they have subverted it by not investigating the increasingly obvious crooked business dealings of the president himself.

The current situation is untenable. But how does it end? The Runnymede way—as it did in England, Holland, and Belgium? Or the way it ended in eighteenth-century France? The tumultuous, guillotine ending?

  1. S. Eliot concluded his poem The Hollow Men with the famous line:

“This is the way the world ends: Not with a bang but a whimper.”

That may not be a good prediction for how America’s experiment with democracy ends.

Daniel Oliver is Chairman of the Board of the Education and Research Institute and a Director of Pacific Research Institute for Public Policy in San Francisco. In addition to serving as Chairman of the Federal Trade Commission under President Reagan, he was Executive Editor and subsequently Chairman of the Board of William F. Buckley Jr.’s National Review.

Email Daniel Oliver at Daniel.Oliver@TheCandidAmerican.com.


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About Daniel Oliver

Daniel Oliver is chairman of the board of the Education and Research Institute and a director of the Pacific Research Institute for Public Policy in San Francisco. In addition to serving as chairman of the Federal Trade Commission under President Reagan, he was executive editor and subsequently chairman of the board of William F. Buckley Jr.’s National Review. Email him at Daniel.Oliver@TheCandidAmerican.com.

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Notable Replies

  1. Mr. Oliver discusses some options and possibilities for the “untenable situation” of America’s experiment with democracy. Although the outcomes he analyzes are certainly within the realm of possibility, I think neither is likely.

    In order for a “Runnymede Agreement” to occur, We the People would need champions–elites, if you will–powerful enough (and brave enough) to rise up and challenge the power and might of the tyrants in DC. Although such champions may be hiding in plain sight, I am not so sanguine they exist.

    The other alternative Mr. Oliver discusses is a French-style Revolution. While perhaps more likely than the aforementioned English settlement of terms in 1215, it remains to be seen if the American public (that is, the Constitutionally faithful) are up to the barbarism necessary to take on the demonic left.

    What is more likely I think, is a quickening of our already begun partitioning (citizens leaving blue states to the relative sanity of red state governance) into a half dozen or so autonomous or semi-autonomous regional super-states or regions.

    Barring that “relatively peaceful option”, all I can see this morning is grudging submission into a suffocating twilight of despotism and tyranny.

  2. Mr. Oliver calls Trump a fanatic, but then goes on to list everything currently wrong with American politics, including instances of election rigging. Mr. Oliver, it is always painful to sit on a picket fence.

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