Sunday, September 25, 2011

Small 'd' democracy as being healthily conservative, in reference to the below post

About Andrew Jackson and the Imperial Presidency. One of the good points that Southern Democrats made, when they weren't defending slavery and segregation, was that having intermediate institutions between the Presidency and the people, meaning State and local government as well as Congress, could have a moderating effect on tendencies towards authoritarianism. Jackson appears to have used the fact that the Presidency was now directly elected as an excuse to organize a top down party machine, one that undermined local democracy and the intermediary levels of government themselves. But because the machine was lead by a man of the people, it was legit, right? Keeping multiple levels of democratic checks in place and revering them can be a healthy way to keep the top level of government from running away with power, as happened in the Bush Administration. It's extraordinarily ironic that top heavy power like that is what Obama's currently being accused of by the Tea Party, since his Presidency ended many (but certainly not all) of the outright authoritarian practices and rhetoric initiated under Bush.

If this type of small 'c' conservatism is done in a non-partisan manner, it can be a force for improving public life, and can put a lie to the idea that a conservative check on power can only mean something either undemocratic or reactionary.

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