It has been some time since I have last written here at the Geek’s Guide to Christianity. Much has happened in my life, most of which has been been positive, and now I am back just in time to weigh in on the current excitement in Great Britain and Europe. Of course, I am speaking about Brexit.
First, I would like to start with a little critique of an article from the magazine Foreign Policy entitled “The Collapse of the Liberal World Order” by Stephen M. Walt. As one can imagine, the collapse of any Liberal Order and the subsequent article covering that disintegration will definitely pique my interest. However, I find that while I agree with some of the conclusions, the author has not identified the correct reason for this downfall. For too often, the article identifies that the liberal democracy of Europe and the United States is under attack by tyrannical forces and fundamentalists fighting the the liberal agenda (i.e. tolerance, acceptance, and equality).
This is a gross trivialization and outright disingenuous view of the current anti-establishment, anti-globalist climate sweeping the West. To really dig deep into the current issues one must have a fair and objective look into the real issues of the day and not be swayed by the labels placed on certain people and groups. The first thing that has to be done is to define what we are talking about when speaking of “democracy.”
Dictionary.com (2016) defines democracy as, “government by the people; a form of government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised directly by them or by their elected agents under a free electoral system.” Today, individuals like to think of the United States as a “democracy” which according to the definition, it pretty much is. However, this was not always the case. The Founding Fathers were very keen to delineate the differences between their newly minted Republic and the traditional view of democracy.
It might come as a surprise that initially, the general public had a limited ability to elect their federal officials. Of course, the members of the House of Representatives were elected by popular vote, but the president was elected via the electoral college which has defied the direct popular vote on a number of occasions (Hanke, 2011). Additionally, senators were appointed by each state which was changed to election by popular vote by the Seventeenth Amendment (United States Senate, n.d.).
It is no surprise as time continued and crises manifested themselves that the federal government granted itself greater and greater power with a push toward a more democratic system being the result. However, just because the United States is more democratic, does not mean the people are more free, it is actually quite the opposite. In 2012, it was estimated by the Census Bureau that at least 52.2 million Americans are participants in a government assistance program. Add a staggering 43.3 million Americans with student loan debt (much of which is federal) (Student Loan Hero, 2016), 6.8 million on long-term unemployment (Long, 2016), and a myriad of government subsidies for a wide-range of individuals and companies and the freedoms brought about by a democracy really becomes a tyranny of dependency.
In addition to be ruled by our subsidy dependency, the modern day Westerner is subject to a regulation on acceptable rhetoric. The days of “I don’t agree with what you say, but I’ll defend to death the right for you to say it” are gone and replaced with public shaming, career destroying, and opening individuals and groups up to being targeted by terrorists and psychopaths. The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), which has its own questionable ties to terrorist organizations, released a list of individuals and organizations who they deem as Islamophobic. What is interesting to note is that just about every prominent conservative, Republican, and Christian organization is found within this list. Regardless of your thoughts on the matter, a list like this only exists to shut these groups up by publically shaming them and by placing a big target on the back of everyone associated with these groups. The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) which, all things considered, is a hate group identifying “hate groups,” has created a list of “Islamophobic” individuals called “The Anti-Muslim Inner Circle.”
Organizations such as CAIR and the SPLC either recklessly or intentionally endanger lives and use scare tactics to quiet those who don’t agree with them. What the so called “tolerant” liberal thinkers (so touted by Mr. Walt) behind these and similar organizations could care less about who they hurt and if their rhetoric leads to death and dismemberment. In August 2012, the Washington D.C. headquarters of the Family Research Council was attacked by a volunteer at a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) community center because it was placed on a list of hate groups by the SPLC. On June 2, 2015, police in Boston killed a suspected terrorist who had originally plotted to behead Pamela Geller, who is listed by CAIR and SPLC in their lists about Islamophobia.
It is no wonder after looking at these examples, that a trend away form the so called “liberal democracy” as outlined by Walt has little to due with individuals having too much freedom within a democratic society, but are sick of having every aspect of their lives regulated and their opinions deemed “hateful” and “intolerant.” This brings us back to Brexit which demonstrates that, “yes,” we are definitely seeing the downfall of the “liberal world order” in a political climate we have not seen in at least 200 years. But, it has little to do with too much freedom or an appeal to fundamentalism, but a thirst for independence from regulation and government dependency. Fortunately, this time it seems that politics and votes are winning the day instead of the multiple cases of revolutionary and civil wars that reared their ugly heads in the 18th and 19th centuries. The Brexit vote is just the beginning for a Western populace who cares more about the issues of sovereignty, vast government overreach, immigration, economics, and public safety rather than who’s feelings they are going to hurt.
Dictionary,com. (2016). Democracy. Retrieved from http://www.dictionary.com/browse/democracy?s=t.
Hanke, S.H. (2011). On democracy versus liberty. Cato Institute. Retrieved from http://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/democracy-versus-liberty.
Student Loan Hero. (2016). A Look at the Shocking Loan Debt Statistics for 2016. Retrieved from https://studentloanhero.com/student-loan-debt-statistics-2016/.
United States Senate. (n.d.). Direct Election of Senators. Retrieved from http://www.senate.gov/artandhistory/history/common/briefing/Direct_Election_Senators.htm.