Junior Ganymede
We endeavor to give satisfaction

Winter is Coming

June 19th, 2014 by Patrick Henry

Democracy requires citizenship. The concept of citizenship, and the concepts of virtue and liberal education that underpin it, rest upon a vast and unfathomably complex cultural structure. Liberal education, for example, cannot take root in a culture which is intolerant of dissent or suspicious of originality. Virtue will never be widespread in a culture that encourages license. There are tensions in the cultural structure, too—the same suspicion of originality that hinders liberal education might backstop virtue by resisting moral “innovation.”

The delicate balances needed here are why democracies are so rare in human history.

from the National Interest

One of the most deeply subversive lines of thought I had the folly of following when young was considering what kind of conditions were needed to sustain a democracy, and then considering what kind of conditions a democracy tended to be produce. I’ve been gloomy in politics since.

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June 19th, 2014 07:35:30

The Last Days of the Republic, Filibuster Edition

November 21st, 2013 by Patrick Henry

Roman Senate

 

So Senator Reid and the Democratic majority in the Senate has decided to use a sketchy political maneuver to end the 60-vote tradition for confirming judges.  The purpose is to pack the DC Circuit, which reviews and constrains executive branch action, and to distract from Obamacare.  Taken in itself, it isn’t that weighty.  The filibuster is just a political custom, after all, and not the most fundamental one.

The last days of the Roman Republic were also marked by an escalating series of  abuses of political traditions.  The censor used his old-timey power to perform sacrifices and suspend public business while he determined if the omens were right as a tool to block votes that were going to go against his faction.  Tribunes used their tribunate veto, which had before only been used to block the Senate, to veto other tribunes activities in the assembly of the people.  Men started to seek office for the criminal immunity it allowed.  Politically-motivated prosecutions became common.  Offices were extended beyond their normal term of years.  Constitutional reforms were proposed and even enacted because they helped the agenda of some party boss, only to be overturned when his power faded.

All this was bad enough.  Eventually other Roman customs went by the wayside too.  Faction leaders had wars declared to replenish their purse and burnish their popularity.  Sulla and Marius marched on Rome.  Caesar crossed the Rubicon.

 

The Roman Republic fell.  It took about a century. (more…)

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November 21st, 2013 12:07:15