[A]m I right to conclude that libertarians simply don’t have the same central democratic value that most of us have? And, if they don’t, how can we even begin to have a conversation about what we ought to do as a society?
This is an odd observation to make at a time when a Democratic Governor jokes about skipping the next election, when Peter Orzag calls for less democracy, when the President imagines the joy of bypassing Congress, when non-libertarian columnists praise China and write things like: ” There is only one thing worse than one-party autocracy, and that is one-party democracy, which is what we have in America today. One-party autocracy certainly has its drawbacks. But when it is led by a reasonably enlightened group of people, as China is today, it can also have great advantages.”
People generally like democracy a lot when it gives them the policies they like, and they tend to deride democracy when it gives them policies they don’t.
At their core, everyone realizes that democracy is imperfect, and that the masses are just as capable of tyranny as the king. Democracy gave us slavery, and segregation, and war, and internment, and torture, and the Alien and Sedition Acts. And if you said, in response to all of those, Well, I don’t like it, but it’s democracy so it’s okay with me; I’ll just try to convince people to vote differently the next time—if that’s your attitude, then you’re part of the problem.
But Ari, since you think libertarians don’t value democracy, show me examples of the armed insurrections that are taking place all over the country. Show me where they are overthrowing democracy and deposing elected officials. Or can you only show me political demonstrations, and rallies, and petitioning, and speech … namely, the democratic political dissent protected by our Constitution. Show me what libertarians are doing that is qualitatively different than, let’s say, what the progressives in Wisconsin have done in registering their objection to the policies of Scott Walker. (Apart from the fact that libertarians have generally been more respectful of democracy than these progressives have been).
Anyway, for those interested, I wrote response to Ari about many of the rest of the things he says in his column here.