For me, the most disturbing story in a long time is North Carolina Governor Bev Perdue's call for suspending congressional elections until our economic problems are solved (note to Governor Perdue: elections are our only hope of changing our desperate economic situation).
Perdue is now saying this was a joke, but a video available on the Daily Caller contradicts this. This is just unprecedented in American history. As my sister pointed out, when we were talking about how alarming this is, FDR had to run during World War II, and Abe Lincoln was campaigning for a second term at the tail end of an unpopular war. I know you are as horrified by Governor Perdue's "joke" as I am.
Meanwhile, over at the New Republic former Obama OMB director Peter Orszag explains, "Why we need less democracy." Are you seeing a theme here? In the part of the article available to the public, Orszag writes:
To solve the serious problems facing our country, we need to minimize the harm from legislative inertia by relying more on automatic policies and depoliticized commissions for certain policy decisions. In other words, radical as it sounds, we need to counter the gridlock of our political institutions by making them a bit less democratic.
You've got to love that "a bit."
What Orszag doesn't like is that the policies he advocates aren't always being enacted because not everybody agrees with him. Something must be done! He cited the debt ceiling debate as an example of government not working, though one could make an argument that House Republicans were fighting for something important: cutting government spending.
You can bet the bureaucrats to whom Orszag wants to give "a bit" more authority would have no compunction about spending taxpayer money in ways that taxpayers rejected implicitly in 2010.
John Samples of Cato writes:
You need not equate the voice of the people with the voice of God to find Orszag's analysis unconvincing. Is it really so surprising that the people are so polarized? For decades, we have lived under a redistributive government. Your gain is my loss and vice-versa. The politics of redistribution also foster a rhetoric of blame and contempt. You are the cause of my problems and vice-versa. In the zero sum struggles around the redistributive state, people begin to see each other as friend and enemy. Big Government leads to Big Polarization.
Orszag offers three general ways around the people and their representatives: automatic policies, backstop rules (like the sequester governing the supercommittee), and institutions more independent of the dysfunctional people.
Here is my prediction: If Republicans try to talk about this burgeoning anti-democracy trend–and they should–the press will say how ridiculous they are being. Oh, those incendiary Republicans!
But then, if the Democrats retain power, we'll learn from various initiatives that this is not such a ridiculous issue after all.