"If it be admitted that a man possessing absolute power may misuse that power by wronging his adversaries, why should not a majority be liable to the same reproach? Men do not change their characters by uniting with one another; nor does their patience in the presence of obstacles increase with their strength." --Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America
WHY ARE ancient Greece and ancient Rome so emphasized as part of a classical civics education? Because their attempts at democracy stood in contrast to how most peoples have been ruled, thereby setting the template for the democratic experiments in the civilizations that followed. A key lesson from those studies is the fragility of the experiments, which can be understood in part because they had a life cycle that can be studied. If the democratic experiments of ancient Rome and Greece had continued uninterrupted from the time of their inception, it would be harder to discern what were the keys to their functioning.
The American democratic experiment has been active for so long that it is now quite difficult to keep track of its successes and failures. When the integrity and impact of people’s votes are compromised in pursuit of more safety, convenience, depravity, or favoritism for certain ethnic groups or individuals, while neglecting the support for common defense, the experiment will inevitably fail at some point.
ON THE OTHER HAND, the potential for a society more focused on justice and other righteous principles may yet be attained, if we learn the right lessons from previous societies. It is conceivable that limited democratic experiments could persist almost indefinitely. Even a multiethnic nation such as Switzerland has had functional democratic institutions for centuries. It learned from the failures of previous democratic experiments not to use government for cronyism, for transferring too much decision-making power to a cabal of experts. or for needlessly interventionist foreign relations. Power is dispersed to the many cantons, which allow more homogenous communities to thrive within the larger multiethnic nation, and neutrality is the first principle in foreign policy. In other nations, a deep respect for constitutions and the rule of law can keep a democratic experiment from devolving into a tyranny of the majority.
THE CHAIRMAN, whose ruling style in this Society would never be characterized as democratic, has called a debate to settle the topic:
RESOLVED: Democracies have expiration dates.
The Debate will be Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2021 at Burger Moe’s, 242 7th St. W., St. Paul MN 55102. It will be preceded by this Society Lecture at 7PM from John Adams Society Co-Founder and Senior Sometime Chairman Erick Kaardal: The Ethical Populist: Post-2020 Election Reflections, Sober Political Analysis. Mr. Kaardal has co-authored multiple books and has received 12 Bar Admissions, including the U.S. Supreme Court, where he represented both Republican Party of Minnesota v. White and Minnesota Voters Alliance v. Mansky. He graduated magna cum laude from Harvard College and achieved the rank of Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army Reserves.
The Chancellor and Chairman encourage people to arrive prior to 7PM and to thank our host venue by spending money while partaking of food and drink. The debate will begin at 7:30. Please be responsible and follow current government edicts, as we need to project law-abiding conduct, lest the regulators get too interested in our social gathering. There is no dress code; however, gentlemen who wish to speak must wear a tie; ladies are encouraged to adhere to a similar sartorial standard. For those gentlemen arriving sans tie yet wishing to discourse on the resolution, the Purveyor of Ties will keep on hand several remarkable selections.
Questions regarding debate caucus procedures or about the John Adams Society itself may be directed to the Chairman at (651) 494-9008 or the Secretary at (651) 398-9316.